I started in a degree in nuclear engineering at age 17, dropped out expecting to be drafted for service in Vietnam (but was spared by a medical disability). I went back to college several years later after emulating Jack Kerouac for a few years. Back in school, he began another technical degree, this time in physics, but found the English and philosophy departments would allow me to write my way through college. I eventually wound up taking a degree in English Literature.
In 1983, just after finishing a second degree — this one in journalism — I had to hit the ground working. I had no time to be picky. My Chevy pickup truck had burned a head valve, and my bank balance was less than zero. Though my journalistic training was in investigative reporting and science writing, I accepted a job at a five-state agriculture weekly because the starting salary was considerably more than it would be at a mainstream entry-level newspaper job. This was not a problem at the time, as I expected to do the journalism gig for only three or four years.
Because my real passion was writing science fiction and fantasy, and I hoped journalism would serve as a sort of apprenticeship for fiction writing the way it had for Hemingway. But, as the saying goes, life is what happens when your plans don't work out. I met and married Gloria Jean Valdez in Dodge City, Kansas, and three children quickly followed as they are wont to do. Needing steady income to support my family, I spent the next twenty years writing about agricultural research and rural culture. Through it all, I never abandoned writing or reading science fiction. Several of the novels I wrote in the 1980s and 1990s remain unpublished. However, through those early attempts, I came to believe that those hundreds of thousands of words were the true apprenticeship for a novelist. Today, I'm the divorced father of three young adults, but I still pays the bills writing about agricultural research, though now for a large land-grant university. Unselfish Gene is my first published novel.
An earlier novel, Messengers of an Alien God, which I characterize as "occult science fiction," is contracted to Swimming Kangaroo books with a tentative publication date of Fall 2009. I've also finished a sequel, Dreamtime of an Alien God.
And I suspects, but can't promise, that the characters I developed in Dreamtime may force me to write a third novel in the series. Series novels are what happens when one's characters take on a life of their own.