I owe it all to Babar the Elephant and Winnie the Pooh. Both were read to me endlessly at bedtime by loving parents who wanted to instill a love of words in their young son. Later, I moved onto Dr. Seuss and the back of cereal boxes. I also benefitted from teachers and school librarians who noticed and encouraged a kid’s interest in books of all kinds. By fourth grade, my vocabulary was on a junior high school level, and by the time I discovered The Hardy Boys, the race was on to see how many in the series I could read.
In high school I was befriended by an English teacher who was a successful young adult author on the side and spotted an ability (I won’t say talent yet) in me to put together creative coherent sentences, and by the time I got to college, writing teachers were actively encouraging me to keep writing.
My first break came when I won a state-wide college playwriting contest while still an undergraduate. The next year, I won it again. That led to a brief career as a playwright, with two plays produced off-off-Broadway several years apart. In the meantime, I was earning a living in public relations, where I was writing practically every single day.
The War Merchants was my first work of fiction, begun as a creative challenge to myself. During this time, I had already started my career as a college professor, teaching public relations and writing at Temple University, where I continue to try and instill a love of words to my students to tell a story.