Many authors knew they wanted to write from a very young age. That was not the case with me, though I always loved books. I also wrote and illustrated stories, but only for my own pleasure. Looking back, I see that much of what I did prepared me to become a writer. However, at the time, I would have been surprised if someone told me that I would be an author.
I went to Oberlin College to study biology and ended up majoring in art. I graduated during the Vietnam War and ended up in the army for the next four and a half years. Afterward, I enrolled at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I received Masters of Fine Arts in Photography. My thesis project was an audiovisual show that combined photography with illustration, music, and the spoken word. The incorporation of language into my thesis reflected my growing interest in the interplay of words and images.
While I was working on my thesis, I got a job in public television as an artist and photographer. It was the first time my work was disseminated through the mass media. The opportunity to communicate with a large audience appealed to me and drew me to commercial art. After working in television, I took a job as a photographer and graphic designer for a Nazareth College. Later, I worked in advertising. My experiences allowed me to work in many areas of written and visual communication and gave me experience with typography, illustration, photography, art direction, and printing technology.
When my wife and I discovered we were to become parents, the first things we purchased were children's books. Our son had a library before he was born, and I rediscovered children's literature. I felt then, and still feel, that the best picture books are artistic marvels. They represent a rare opportunity for a single person to combine both verbal and visual communication. To create children's books seemed a truly worthy goal. Eventually, Carol and I decided that I should become the stay-at-home parent and write and illustrate books. We had only a vague idea of the difficulties ahead.
It took sixteen rejections and many years before Pumpkin Jack was published. By then, I was working on the manuscript for Cretaceous Sea. Getting published is often a painfully slow process, and a writer must keep writing both to grow and to fight discouragement. Writing children's books increased my love for language, and my adult novels are the result.
My writing for children and adults share some of my interests, particularity in the natural history, but they also allow me to explore different ones. My children's books focus primarily on the world around us. When I work on them, I find myself intensely focused on my subject matter. My science fiction stories are more concerned with characterization, a fast moving plot, and imaginative settings. I also enjoy examining life and society from the unique prespectives that science fiction affords.
Writing can be a difficult and frustrating career but a wonderful way of life. I relish the total involvement it requires and find that creating books is a constant education and a great source of satisfaction.