Born October 3, 1958, in Springfield, Missouri, and raised down the road in Buffalo, Missouri, population about 1,200. At that time there were just two television channels available via rooftop antenna in my home town, and to call someone locally you needed to dial only 4 digits on your black rotary phone. My number was 7789.
As a boy I spent a lot of time in the basement. I was almost pathologically shy, and my cellar laboratory and the public library were the two places I was most comfortable. I read a great deal, but very little fiction, mostly books of facts, histories, paranormal accounts and fringe sciences, biographies of inventors and inventions. When I was 8, a favorite uncle gave me a huge, antique 4-volume set of books called The Boy Mechanic, and these provided years of evening projects in engineering, parlor magic, electronics, astronomy, photography, radio, aviation, carpentry and chemistry.
My first jobs were in radio broadcasting. I was a disc jockey, newscaster, copywriter and actor in radio dramas on local stations in Missouri from age 16 to 20. Shyness was never overcome, but became well managed. I was voted Man of Our Times in my senior year of high school, a title that was both more coveted and less practically specific than Most Likely to Succeed.
Education and Some History
Not very much education, by traditional gauges, only two years of performing arts conservatory as I trained to be a stage actor. Left college after sophomore year to start a regional theatre. Moved to New York City three years later, where my real education began.
In 1981 I built and learned to program my first computer, a Sinclair ZX-81 with 1K of RAM, and soon after began to haunt the early online communities. The hacker culture has always been a fascination; true hackers, that is, the explorers and innovators, not the vandals and pranksters that the press has allowed to co-opt the term.
To pay the bills while my wife-to-be and I pursued our theatrical ambitions, I began working as a technical writer, soon almost exclusively for the medical field. I learned to be a rigorous researcher, since my audience generally had at least a solid 10 years more formal education than I did. My last corporate position was as Creative Director of McCann-Erickson's Chicago agency, where I helped found their interactive division in the very early 90s. At McCann we developed some of the first online e-commerce sites, two years before there was an Amazon.com.
Early and Current Interests
On my shelf I still have a set of Brains Benton mysteries from boyhood. These stories revolved around the titular shy, geeky youth who spent a lot of time tinkering in his home laboratory. Tom Swift, boy inventor of the future, was another early hero. My favorite magician is Ricky Jay, and my favorite author is Margaret Atwood.
I've always made a hobby of learning new things. I build and fly radio-controlled model airplanes (the big aerobatic ones, that can take off a finger), dabble in amateur radio, build and tweak computers, do studio photography, practice sleight of hand, fly power kites, whittle boomerangs, brew gourmet beer, and to relax, I make bread.
These days I live and write in sunny Orange County, CA. News flash: My family and I have moved to Illinois, west of Chicago. I've been married for 22 24 years to the same wonderful woman, and we have two fine daughters in their teens, both as well adjusted and self-assured as I was withdrawn and bashful at their age.
About Circumference of Darkness
After the initial idea for the book presented itself, I put in nearly a year of research and fact-finding before the first chapter was written. I have a wall full of reference books, three walls actually, but I don't believe I could have written this story at all without the unbelievably deep resources of the Internet and its community. Everything is out there somewhere, nearly everyone can be found and reached with a question, and it only takes some ingenuity and diligence to follow the trail and find it all. The facts in the book are facts, the conjecture is based on facts, and I did my best to ensure, even if an event was pure fiction, that it could have happened just as the story says it did.