Sometimes, though, I get some inspiration that makes me stop in the midst of whatever I'm doing to write down the idea. I'll be in the middle of a long bike ride and suddenly something occurs to me and I have to pull off the path and frantically scribble my thoughts on a notepad. Or, sometimes, I'll awaken from a dream and know the answer to some plot point or theme or character or whatever. Then too, I'm immediately up and writing.
As for how long I've been writing, I guess it's been since about the age of 13 or so; that's probably the first time I ever wrote out some scene I'd been kicking around. I was 15 when I first showed anyone what I'd written (a girl I liked), and it wasn't until I was eighteen that I ever submitted anything for publication. The work I submitted was a comedic short story titled “Beauty, eh?” which was extraordinarily silly, and was published in a local magazine. After my battle with cancer, though, is when I decided to take writing seriously and to dedicate myself to the long hard hours it takes to write anything, really, but most especially novels.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
It's an adventure story about a reclusive, cynical computer geek who finds that one of his own servers has been cracked late one night and gets far more than he bargained for when he decides to track down the perpetrator. What his search uncovers thrusts him, unaware, into a mad shifting between worlds, time, and alien minds. From the start the story was inspired by a real hacker who managed to crack into one of my servers, and from there the story evolved into something that is an unusual cross between a Heinlein/McCaffrey sort of adventure coupled with a flavor of Melville and Dante. As a former creative writing teacher and a current computer/networking professional, my tastes in literature spans this spectrum and more. What The Canker Death became is the novel I always wanted to read but couldn't find.
What inspired you to write it?
There were a number of inspirations for my debut novel, The Canker Death. On the factual plane, the inspiration came from the fact that an FTP server I was running on one of the old Unix systems in my basement got hacked. I have a collection of unusual computers that run esoteric operating systems. Where most people's computer knowledge ends is where mine begins. This fact alone gave me the idea for a main character who was based quite a bit on various facets of people I know – computer geeks, that is. But, I didn't want to write a novel that was only tailored for sci-fi lovers. I wanted to write something that was accessible to everyone, so I worked hard to make sure that the technical stuff was accurate and true, but that understanding it in any detail was not at all required for enjoying the novel.