Writing, Music, and the Outdoors
I took to books at an early age and can still remember my father reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to me at bedtime. When I could read on my own, my mother brought home books from the library for my siblings and me. She tells me, that I would look at the covers and say “not interested”, but if she left them on my night stand I couldn’t help, but devour them—the genres and titles didn’t seem to matter. Growing up the oldest of five children outside the city of Chicago, our house was always teeming with activity—so it may be no wonder that I enjoyed staying up late to read when things were quiet. There was always something transcendent about disappearing into another world while the rest of the house slept. Books taught me so much about myself and the world around.
I also loved to draw and write. I can remember creating little stories and illustrations with my cousin on rolls of newspaper run-off my Grandmother obtained for us when we stayed with her. As I got older, I tried my hand at poetry and short works of prose. I was able to get some poetry published in my high school literary magazine and later I had a work published online on a website dedicated to original Chicago artwork: Site of Big Shoulders (http://sobs.org/poetry/oreilly/index.html).
In school, I pursued a degree in English literature and learned how to critique, and more importantly, how to be critiqued. During college I spent a semester living in Italy and found great inspiration walking among the statutes and paintings of the masters I learned about in school. The opportunity to physically touch and feel the palpable genius of the old craftsman from the ancient and medieval worlds was an unparalleled experience.
Sometime in the early 2000’s I got involved with managing a local hard rock band called: I Decline (www.ideclineband.com) which took up most of my free time for the next few years. The experience collaborating with old friends and being on the local music scene with fellow artists served as a sort of creative outlet and taught me how to share an artistic vision. To this day, music remains a large part of my life and I find that most of my writing is done with headphones on!
When the band went on hiatus, I found myself with a glut of free time and boatload of left over energy without any direction. At this time, I decided to pursue my other passion the natural word. Having backpacked through some of America’s great national and state parks, I wanted to try my hand at the art of hunting wild game. With the guidance of an experienced family member, a few books, and hours of practice on the archery range, I was able to harvest my first whitetail deer by bow and arrow in the dark north woods of the Midwest. The experience of directly connecting with the earth and the cycles of life and death gave me a new perspective and inspired me to get back into writing.
Rediscovering my voice, I resurrected my muse and joined a local writing group of published authors called the Southland Scribes. Here, I began to take my craft seriously and learned to focus on the mechanics of writing and the discipline of the process. After a couple more hiatuses I came full circle to my original passion, the written word, I now spend my free time outlining, editing, researching, and writing stories. Trying to find characters, situations, and plots that intrigue me, and hopefully strike a chord with others. My three passions: writing, music, and the outdoors drive my creative works. Music inspires the rhythm and language of my narrative and the natural world always seems to intrude in from the background to interact in interesting ways with my characters.
I’ve crossed through a few different genres trying to find my voice but mostly dwell in fantasy, science fiction, and literary fiction. A few authors who have inspired me are: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Frank Herbert, Richard Adams, J.K. Rowling, Douglas Adams and William Shakespeare.