For "Then Came Cancer: A Love Story," my first book (I have been a freelance writer/photographer for the past 26 years) my beautiful wife was my inspiration. Terri still is, whether it's writing, playing guitar or just about any other endeavor I undertake, and will always be.
I originally planned it to be a book about her treatments and recovery from lymphoma but it didn't work out that way. It took more than two years for me to get to the point I thought I could write it. I told only a couple people I was writing it, just in case I reached a point I couldn't continue writing her story.
Then, on Sunday, 12 June 2011, I sat down and started writing. I finished it Friday afternoon, 17 June. I pushed my chair back from the keyboard and felt as if a heavy weight was lifting from me.
I have since started my second book, one I had thought about writing for at least the past 10 years. The working title is "Lettuce and Beer: The Fast, Hard Life of my Friend Paul."
It, too, is a story of personal tragedy, though Paul's ills were self-inflicted. We were friends for nearly 40 years when he finally drank himself to death, dying in his sleep in 2007 at the age of 55. Like my Terri, Paul left us much too early.
My first 18 years were spent moving with my family from Army post to Army post while my dad pursued his career as a soldier. My third book will be about that experience. But I have also been asked to write a book about Mississippi bluegrass music, which may postpone "Growing Up Army" a bit.
As for influences, I guess everyone I've ever met has influenced me in some way. Writerwise, I developed an early interest in Steinbeck (we lived in Sacramento and San Francisco during those years).
In the 1990s, after he was awarded the Nobel literature prize, V.S. Naipaul came into view. He remains one of my favorite writers; I admire writers, such as Naipaul, who can take the most mundane events and people and turn them into great reading. His "The Enigma of Arrival" is an excellent example of that.