My cousin read me my first story when I was five years old, and I was astounded that such things existed. I walked around for days retelling the story in my head, and I still remember the plot, the characters and the storyline. It was a fairy tale called Hansel and Gretel, which hooked me on books for life.
My next literary stage took place when I was about 12 years old. It was then I discovered the work of Robert Louis Stevenson, Daniel Defoe, Mark Twain, and others. At the time I thought I wanted to be just like Tom and Huck, but later in life I discovered it was the writers, and not the characters, whom I truly desired to emulate.
Alas, my life plan led to business rather than literature, but it was always there, lingering in the back of my mind, that burning desire to set pen to paper. I never abandoned the reading. No, I pursued it with vigor and consumed books like a fire does fuel. But the writing was just in my mind.
A few years ago a great blessing was bestowed upon me when I was afforded the time to chase my dream.
The dream turned into a nightmare on many occasions along the way, but I endured, I read and I wrote.
I forgot to mention I also prayed. I prayed that what I wrote would be of the highest purpose and serve the greatest good, and would inspire and not degrade, as I used common words to say uncommon things, which might make my grandchildren proud.
Today, I’m an award-winning young adult fiction writer with four books to my credit and a fifth one due out very soon, all from my publisher, NewSouth Books. I’m well into number five, and the one after that is floating around in the back of my mind.
I’m also a newspaper man, something else I always wanted to do. I write news, sports and feature stories, and a weekly column called “I’m Fixin’ To,” all for The Monticello News.
On top of all this, I traipse all over the South doing author visits at elementary and middle schools, teaching kids what it was like to be a kid long ago, the wonder of reading, and the art of writing.