Before I was a writer I was working with at-risk families as a Youth Worker. It was there that I found so many enriching and fascinating people and I often draw from that experience to find characters and plots for my novels. I then began traveling, and have had the good fortune to find many interesting places. Again these experiences have often found a way into my writing. In my spare time I hike and am fortunate enough to live with my wife in one of the most beautiful places on the planet aptly named Garden Bay, on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada.
I’m not a fisherman, but I do have very generous neighbors who take my wife and I boating. They call and just say, “Sunset cruise, tonight,” and we drop everything. Some day I hope to have the talent to describe what a sunset looks like while we float outside the harbor. It’s purple, but more colorful than that. It’s vast, but bigger than that, It’s grand, but more than that. You can probably sense my frustration; I just don’t have the words to describe what my eyes take in on those cruises. What I would give to have Hemingway with us while he described what we were all appreciating. Funny you ask about swimming, I don’t swim, but my wife does and about thirty meters from our house is one of the warmest lakes any swimmer has ever enjoyed. A few years back we helped our friends build a secret dock, far from the tourists and known only by the locals. There’s a trail that winds through the forest down to it and while everyone else swims, I enjoy a libation and watch loons carrying their little ones on their backs and then dive when a call warns of an eagle swooping past. The best way for me to relax, other than a “sunset cruise’, is simply to sit on my deck. We usually have four or five deer sleeping around our house. A couple of four point bucks, fawns, everyone, comes into our yard. Sometimes, I have to go out the back door and down a trail because so many deer are sleeping near the front door. I have had to carry a dead deer from my property and been honored to witness the birth of twin fawns. I watched for three hours and forgot to take even one picture, which oddly, I was praised for. Also, nothing like looking out the kitchen window and seeing a 400-pound bear saunter by.
My favourite authors are Aldous Huxley, John Steinbeck, Yukio Mishima, Conan Doyle, no one can touch Dorothy Parker for wit, Agatha Christie, James Joyce might be the most courageous writer I have read, and I always enjoy a good Nelson DeMille. But one writer that blew me away with her courage, talent, and openness, in fact, I can honestly say that she is the most honest writer I have ever come across is Elizabeth Smart and it is sheer coincidence that she spent part of her life here in Garden Bay.
My first novel is called The Singing Bowl. It’s an epic story about a monk living in a monastery in Tibet who escapes the Communists and is given a quest by his master. He must find a book lost to the world. Like a Japanese koan, the solution leads him on adventures beyond his wildest imaginations, and ultimately to insight. Incidentally, the cover picture for the Singing Bowl is of my own bowl and was taken on Pender Hill just behind my house. I have never told anyone that before. I actually came up with the idea about The Singing Bowl while walking around the three lakes near my log home. I was fascinated with the idea of someone looking for something that would be impossible to find. But the journey would take him around the world and he would learn about himself. There’s a neat little trick in my novel about where the book was the entire time, but I won’t share it here, I think even some readers might miss it. I meditate every day, have since I was eight years old and being considerably older than that now, means that I have spent many hours quietly contemplating. I always have the bowl near. For anyone who has ever heard a singing bowl, they can imagine the experience. For those of you who haven’t, try it you won’t be disappointed. To ask me what it “feels” like to listen to it is like asking me to describe a sunset. I openly admit that I lack the talent to do it justice. How can one describe a sound that in your mind looks like color, or a vibration that runs through your body that makes your mind ripple out to the greater universe? If you can describe silence you are only part of the way to describing what a singing bowl can make you feel.
My second book is called The Rubicon Effect. A story about mankind being tested by Global Climate Change. The ultimate trial to see what humanity is driven by… hope or fear. Sam Albright, my main character, doesn’t suffer fools and seldom has doubts. He’s an environmentalist who knows what’s coming, Armageddon, and worse, he knows that it is already too late to affect Global Climate Change. However, at a deeper level, I think the main character is really the psyche of mankind. Behind the scenes, it is really all humanity that drives my characters. From the newly elected Pope, to the second term lame duck President, from the new President of Venezuela, to the Republican right-wing they really only represent the needs, desires, and dreams of humanity. None of my characters got to where they are on their own; humanity raised them to the positions they have. That’s why I say my story is really about what drives mankind… hope or fear.
My third novel, which I wrote with my good friend Jeff Leitch, is called Saving Our Pennys. It should be coming out this winter. It’s a very different story, about a teacher who is lost and looking for a mentor — not to just help with his profession, but with his life, which he feels is slipping away. Little does he know that mentors can come from the most unexpected places. I guess you can tell I am a writer who does not like to fall into one niche or style. I enjoy writing different genres with unique voices, and exotic settings.
I am working on a new project. I have 2 children’s books under contract with one of my publishers, Grey Gate Media. Once Saving Our Penny launches, we will be working with a children’s illustrator. My agent Malaga Baldi is representing two books, Silence and Circumstance: The Story Agatha Christie Never Told and Rendezvous at Calchemish. I also have another agent who is considering my manuscript called, The Philosopher’s Path. And as all writers, I am currently working on two other unnamed manuscripts.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share some advice based on what I learned from my past profession.
First, the young generation has it much, much harder than I did. It’s too easy for the older generation to say, “When I was your age…” but today’s kids have pressures that we never had. The advertising industry focuses on them so they have to be, “cool.” They have media pounding on them 24 /7 with what, “cool” is. They’re forced to grow up much faster than we were.
Second, a real concern of mine is cyber bullying. It’s anonymous and gutless and so easy to do, and it isn’t one on one, it comes from the protection of the e-world and can easily be 10 or even 20 on 1. For young people… my advice would be to be kind, do a random act of kindness every day; it will make you feel good. It’s easy to be mean, but it takes courage to step forward and show you care.
Third, for parents… I say, be the adult. Don’t be your child’s best friend. They already have a best friend and it isn’t you. What they don’t have is another mom or dad. They need our maturity, our experience. We must be their parent, even when they get upset with us. When a young person doesn’t see a solution, or at least thinks there isn’t one, he needs his parents, not a friend to commiserate with, but an adult to listen to him.
Finally, what I learned from them is very simple. People act the way we treat them. Treat a struggling kid poorly and he will get worse. Treat him with compassion, kindness, and patience and they will grow into the people we know they can. Simple.
Below are some of the sites where I can be located, but the best way to discover more about me, and any writer, really is to read our works. For everything that I am, is in my writings.