That's me on the left. My brother had just graduated from high school and that same day I made a construction paper bird. I couldn't understand why my mom would want to take a picture of him without me and my bird - I mean, it was a really nice bird. So here I am inventing the photo bomb years before there even was a term for it.
We're in our backyard in Atlantic Beach, Florida. It was a great place to grow up, just two blocks from the ocean and two blocks from Atlantic Beach Elementary, which is where I began my writing career. The very next year I wrote my first story. It was about Mickey Mouse and his friends throwing him a surprise birthday party. Donald, Minnie and Goofy all chipped in to buy him a lamp.
The funny thing is, years later I actually ended up writing for the Disney Channel show Mickey Mouse Club and one of the sketches I wrote was a special about Mickey that aired on his 65th birthday.
Here I am in the front of the boat wearing a coonskin cap. (Don't worry, it was fake fur. No animals were hurt in the construction of this website.) During college I spent my summers working on the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes at Walt Disney World. (There's a lot of Disney in your life when you grow up in Florida.) My job was to tell silly jokes like when we approached the burning cabin and I'd say: "That's where my girlfriend lives. We broke up so now she's my old flame. It really burns me up too because she's really hot."
Not only was the job incredibly fun, but it also helped me develop as a writer. I circled the Rivers of America countless times, so it let me try all different versions of the jokes. I'd write new ones and I'd change the way I told them. It gave me a chance to learn how jokes work and what makes people laugh. Because, believe me, if you can make people laugh while they're paddling a 1,600 pound concrete and fiberglass canoe in the Florida summer, that's something. I also got to keep the coonskin cap - but don't tell anyone, I think I was supposed to turn it in on my last day.
My mother was an artist and I loved to watch her paint.
Me in college leaning against the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles.
This is my family on a trip to Chicago, where we got to experience snow and wear every layer of clothing we own. My wife and kids make for the ultimate Omega Team. (If you've read Dead City then you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, just know that it means they're awesome.)
I met my wife, Denise, on a blind date in college and we've been married for over 30 years. She teaches high school American history and a course called Theory of Knowledge. (Yeah, she's really smart.) She's also the person who reads and edits everything first and keeps me from pulling out what little hair I have left.
My sons are named Alex and Grayson. (The characters in the Dead City books are named after them.) Alex passed away in March of 2015. He was severely autistic and epileptic and we miss him every day and cherish all of our memories with him. Grayson now works at the Dallas Zoo. They are my inspirations and my heroes.
Grayson and I in a sunflower field near Ottawa, Canada.