My birthday is April 29, 1982. I grew up in Manchester, Tennessee, a quaint Christian town where nothing cool ever happened until after I left. (Now it’s the home of Bonnaroo). My dream was to become an author, a Major League Baseball Player, a Cracker Barrel manager, a country music singer, or an interpreter for the United Nations.
When I was 18, I escaped to Washington, D.C. Talk about major culture shock: On my first day of college, I showed up at the dorms wearing *cringe* overalls and not knowing much about life or myself. I didn’t really even have a plan – I just knew I wanted to learn more about the world, maybe major in print journalism, and maybe learn to speak Russian.
It was the year 2000, and Al Gore was going up against George W. Bush for the Presidency, and I didn’t even know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. My political science professor made us write a report on the various Presidential debates. Not knowing much about politics, instead I chose to describe the candidates as characters, e.g. “What the hell was up with the makeup caked on Al Gore’s face? He should become the new model for CoverGirl.” Anyway, the professor loved it, gave me an A, and told me to keep writing. Not bad for someone who didn’t even know what a Libertarian was.
So instead of becoming a Cracker Barrel manager, I discovered a love of news (from politics to Hollywood trash) and international relations. While I’m not a good enough linguist to be an interpreter, I did get a job at the U.S. Department of State, dabbling in all sorts of stuff.
Also while in D.C., I’ve re-embraced writing, which I loved so much as a kid. The first thing I ever had published was a short story for a publication at a writing camp I attended when I was eleven. The name of the story was Patsy’s Prancing Poodles, a comedy about a circus performer who decides to do a tightrope act with her poodles. Obviously, the story was absolute crap, but I loved seeing my work in print. And, of course, I was majorly jealous of my friend Rachel’s story. She wrote an awesome mystery about some stolen shoes or something, and I remember thinking, “Damn, why didn’t I write a mystery? This is suspenseful. This is cool. This is much better than some lame poodles doing flips on a high wire.”
Now, I’m still thinking the same thing every time I go into a bookstore. Why didn’t I think of Bel Canto? Or Feed? Where the Red Fern Grows? Ender’s Game? (Well, besides the fact those last two books were written before I was born)
So many wonderful writers are out there, and I love reading their books while trying my best to become as good as them.
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