Inspiration

I celebrated my tenth birthday ten years after the first lunar landing, a decade and change removed from the Summer of Love. By 1979, hippies had lost ground to gold chains and disco balls, and, though three in five boys still aspired to be astronauts when they grew up, the profession had suffered a credibility crisis when it appeared as though lunar missions were a thing of the past in favor of orbital surveys. I courted the idea of committing to astronaut training like my three best friends (one third grader had already chosen dentistry and another was destined for the family hardware store), but the summer before my fourth grade year, in between doodles of my inexplicable fascination with factories billowing smoke from giant chimney stacks, I settled on “writer” for my when-I-grow-up profession.

After I purchased (my mom purchased) my first typewriter at a garage sale, I hunt-and-pecked my way through a muddy mess of a “novel,” a disjointed wreck that only a ten-year-old can produce. With this accomplishment behind me, I determined that success as a writer would depend on whether I’d have my first novel published by my twenty-first birthday (insert moment for laughter to subside), an arbitrary line drawn as a subconscious method of forcing me to chose a more attainable goal like astronaut training.

I turned twenty-one at a bar in Southern Spain without a single thought of the great novel that never materialized. After a failed first attempt at college, a stint in the Construction Battalion, a hitch as a short order cook, construction of a zero-emission vehicle, a degree in physics, a career in software, over a hundred short stories, two books, three agents, countless rides on the publication roller coaster, and three plus decades later, my first novel has scratched itself to the surface, inspired by the doodles of my fourth grade year. And the smoke that filled the page in those drawings still lingers over Jonesbridge like a closed door to the sky. In the unlikely event that I had qualified for and endured the arduous program of astronaut training, I think Jonesbridge would still have bubbled to the surface, but perhaps with a little less rust.
I am often asked where my inspiration comes from. How do I choose what to write about. I wish I had a good answer for that question, but the smokestacks I drew as a ten-year-old have never let me rest. So began my circuitous path to Jonesbridge and its two companion novels, stories that I hope are seasoned with the same determination and survival instincts as the process they endured in coming to be. So, If you’ve run out of gas on a stretch of road where the telephone poles have turned to pillars of salt and you reach at last the intersection where history meets the future, take off your shoes, wade into the ditch, pull aside the carrion and you’ll find the way to Jonesbridge.

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