1. Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Hampton, VA, a city located right in the center of much of the big tourist areas in Southeastern Virginia. I have a BFA in Communication Arts and Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MA in Communications from Regent University. Besides writing and art, I am into collecting and trading Disney pins. I also enjoy playing soccer. Fantasy books are my weakness, but my biggest vice is animation, especially the work on Walt Disney as well as a bunch of other animation companies from that golden age of animation in the 1930's and 1940's. I am married to a lovely woman named Kelly. I have one child, a daughter. Her name is Madison. My wife is the Executive VP of Troopmaster Software. My daughter is a Sailor Recruit in the U. S. Navy. She serves on the U. S. S. Truman. I too make my daily living as a sales rep for Troopmaster Software. That's my mild-mannered identity. By night, my "superhero" identity is of a newspaper writer for The Rural Virginian, an illustrator, and a fiction writer. I live near the City of Charlottesville, VA.
You can visit my site here.
2. Who are some authors and artists that influenced you?
So many to name, and not just authors, but filmmakers as well.
- C. S. Lewis is my biggest influence. He not only was skilled in writing fantasy and sci-fi with a Christian skew without using what I like to call stained glass. He created beautiful worlds of imagination populated by some really incredible and very approachable characters.
Also, I like to give accolades to these heroes of mine.
- Edgar Allen Poe- The innovator. He was just way ahead of his time, and he could weave a yarn that drew you right in, leaving you begging, "what happened next?"
- J. R. R. Tolkien- He was a master of creating characters that despite being strange and not all the time, human, were so emotionally real.
- Stephen King- He not only can create horror that will curl your hair, but he is a master of incorporating Rock Music into the storytelling.
- George Lucas- He may be much maligned by fanboys, but he gave us back the hero in a time when we needed heroes.
- Walt Disney- He was a master storyteller and innovator in the craft of animation, and he knew how to give a mere drawing, life.
- Chuck Jones- He not only was animation's master humorist. He knew how to get into the heads of his characters and make them real.
3. Tell us about this book, The Last of the Pack, your first fictional story you are putting out as an indie author. How was it brought forth?
The Last of the Pack was the start. It came into being 1997 when I first became obsessed with creating wolves as heroic characters. It started out as a screenplay, became a chapter book, went back to a screenplay, back to a book, then I partnered up with my daughter to turn it back into a screenplay. She really helped in fleshing out the characters' make-ups but the screenplay as a whole was just too complicated. I completely discarded the whole project and focused the story around Rory Flanagan, a fox boy and Caedmon "C. B." Brennan, a wolf boy, two long-time buddies that magically disguise themselves as humans and live in our real world. Their normal lives are interrupted when these Talking Animals are forced to help tip the balance in a magical battle between good and evil. Making the story basically a buddy tale about this wolf who is being targeted by an evil wizard that has a 1200 year old vendetta against his family helped me say, "I got it!", and it built from there starting in 2010 until now, as I prepare the piece for self-publishing. The story is currently being edited, and I expect to release it November, December at the latest.
4. Why did you chose anthropomorphic animals as the stars of the show?
I've always loved drawing anthropomorphic animals or let's use the more fannish term, Furries. It's a genre where just like in animation, you can pretty much get away with going against all forms and rules of reality. According to Frank Thomas and Oliver Johnston's book, Walt Disney: The Illusion of Life, "an animal in a film is wearing any kind of costume, he can be handled with human attributes and the audience will accept him."
5. What sequels are planned and in the works?
The entire series is called The Wild Children of the Lowcountry. Two more sequels are planned with these two friends and their battle against evil. They are a part of my Wild Children of the Lowcountry series. All three tales take place in Charleston, SC and in a five year period from when the two boys are still in high school until both are adults, the wolf a graduate of the College of Charleston and the fox, in the final year of his contract with the Coast Guard.
6. Why pick a real place such as Charleston, SC as a story setting?
I can't think of a more lovely location for a story. It has temperate weather. It has beaches, which the teenaged characters in my stories must love as hangouts. It has an incredible legacy of history from it's founding to the Civil War (the first shots were fired there at Fort Sumter) to a center of the visual and performing arts. Charleston is also a magical place. It has tales of ghosts and pirates hidden in corners all over the city. That magical side fascinates me as much as the real beauty and past of Charleston. Also, I just love visiting the seaside town. My sister and her kids live there, so I have a connection to it. As for using a real place and not creating some magical universe for my stories, I personally like intruding fantasy into the real world. Imagine, a city where the man, woman, or child you are talking to is not really a human but a Talking Animal in a magical disguise.
7. What was your goal with these tales? What did you set out to do with these stories?
When the story finally came together for me in 2010, my goal was to create a series of tales that would fly with the 13 to 21 readership. I wanted to create furry characters that were sophisticated enough to attract The Hunger Games type of reader. These stories are not for the little kiddies, though. These characters are teenagers and young adults. They have temptations such as teen sex, drinking, peer pressure, bullying, and other high school mine fields, but I tried to make these situations age appropriate yet not gloss over or sugar coat them. I wanted the stories to be relevant to a kid in high school and college, today. Personally, I'm not sure that a furry story has been created for this readership group. If I'm wrong, call me out on it. In a nutshell, my goal was to create a good furry story that a teenager will like and parents will not be uncomfortable allowing their teen to read.
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