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Born in Montgomery, Alabama, I have lived all my life since the start of school in California. My parents were both educators, my father a librarian and my mother an English teacher at Santa Monica College. My own academic career followed them both, acting first as a librarian and in the last five years before retirement as Professor of English at a Southern California community college, in my case Rio Hondo College in Whittier. After graduating from USC with a library degree and putting in less than a year in the California State University, Long Beach, library, I was drafted. I was first published in 1966 with a quiz in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, followed the following year by my first short story, a parody of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct. Around a hundred short stories have followed, plus seven novels (with an eighth on the horizon), three story collections, several edited anthologies, three reference books on mystery fiction (two of them Edgar winners), and more book reviews and articles than I can count. In 1977, I became the proprietor of EQMM'S "Jury Box" column, which I have contributed ever since, save for a few years in the mid-'80s. I also contribute the "What About Murder?" column to Mystery Scene and have been an occasional strictly non-political contributor to The Weekly Standard. Retired since the dawn of 2000, I live happily with Rita in Fountain Valley, California.
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