Dedicated to my dad

4 May
My mom and dad

My mom and dad in New York in 1946, after their return from India

If not for my Dad, I may not be a writer today, and I doubt I ever would have written a novel.

My dad wanted to be a writer, but he grew up in the Great Depression. The Great Depression was followed by World War II. And when World War II ended, he had the beginnings of a family.

My dad had ended up in construction, and worked from early in the morning until early evening. Then he’d come home, eat, go to bed, and repeat. Six, sometimes seven days a week that was his routine.

But when I was in elementary school, he’d fit in a walk after dinner and before bed. And on those walks, he and I would tell stories to each other. I don’t remember a single one of them. I only remember that his seemed pretty good, and mine seemed rather lame. But swapping stories made me want to tell stories.

That was why I was involved with the student newspaper in high school (Gahr High School in Cerritos, California), and took creative writing, and even dabbled with (I shudder to admit this today) poetry. I even had a poem published by a literary journal while I was in high school. The journal soon went out of business. I’ve always wondered if perhaps they should have done a better job choosing what they published.

Anyway, all of that writing was why, when I was considering college, I was thinking about writing. One evening in the backyard of our home in Cerritos, I told my dad I was considering going to a technology college for technical writing, or going to Northwestern University and double-majoring in engineering and journalism.

“That way I’d have a career where I could make money, so I could write,” I told him. (Never mind the fact that double-majoring at Northwestern would have been sort of like walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope while juggling hippos.)

I remember him looking down for a bit, then looking back up at me. He said simply, “You never will.”

After a pause, he continued: “You’ll be so busy that you never will find time to write. If you want to write, write.”
I dropped my thoughts about dual-majoring and focused on journalism.

I think the reasons he encouraged me to be a writer were that he knew hardship, and he knew the price that had been paid for our prosperity, and he knew what it was like to want to do something, and never get to do it. He wanted me to have the opportunity to do what I wanted to do.

And as a result of that, since 1981 I’ve gotten paid to play with words as an editor and writer, and finally have written a book.

Update (June 11, 2014): Actually, I’ve written four books and a novella now:

The Day Magic Died series:

The House in the Old Wood
Karia’s Path
The Hall of the Prophetess
The Dwarf’s Legacy

Nascent Payne mysteries:

The sort-of Murder of Fiona Galloway

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