The short story
I was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on August 30th, 1959. My parents moved to Canada in 1969 when I was 9-years-old, and I moved with them. I’ve lived in Winnipeg since that time. I’m married and have three children. I’ve been writing since I was 13-years-old, but I did not start to write professionally until 1988, when I was 28. I currently work as a Web developer and teacher, but am getting back into writing. For more detail, you can move onto the account below.
The long story
I lived in Scotland for almost 10 years, before moving to Canada with my family. Yes, I used to wear a kilt. There are even pictures of me wearing one. I looked quite cute in a kilt. I haven’t worn one since I moved to Canada. Since moving to Canada, I have lived in Winnipeg – the geographical center of the North American continent.
Although my original career goal was to be a teacher (I was enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Winnipeg), I got sidetracked after three years by the offer of a career in journalism. I reported on prairie commodity and agricultural prices for Farm Market News, a Canadian stringer for Knight Ridder Financial services of Kansas City.
My worklife has been varied. Some might call it spotty. I’ve worked in fast food restaurants, as a fishing guide in a northern camp, as a casual laborer, as gas jockey, as a lotboy in a car dealership, as a service rep in a car dealership, even as an assistant business manager in a car dealership. I’ve worked in bookstores, in an advertising agency, and as a teacher.
I always wanted to be a professional writer, but I never really attempted it until the end of 1987 when I quit my job as Assistant Business Manager of Birchwood Motors in Winnipeg. My plan was to take a year off, try selling a novel, then to return to work when I failed. I wanted to take a serious stab at it so I could at least say I’d tried, and could then get on with my life. As luck would have it, I sold a novel within three months, and writing fiction became my primary source of income for the next 10 years.
Writing full time for a living is not always the best career for a wage earner with a young family. Income can be spotty and unreliable. After 14 novels, I began seeking other sources of income. As luck would have it, this still involved writing. I started up a copywriting business to service advertising and design studios and after two years I joined one of my clients (my brother’s firm) as a full time copywriter. It quickly became clear that I had a leaning toward “digital”, and so I ended up leading the agency’s interactive division for the next 12 years, working on hundreds of websites for clients large and small.
I was married in 1985 to Valerie, the woman I’d been seeing since 1982. Okay, so she was a girl back then (she was 19, I was 22) , not a woman. But she’s a woman now! We had our first child in 1989 (the same year my first book was published), making that a VERY good year. We had our second child in 1993, and our third in 1997. All are adults now. I had a vasectomy in 1999, so we won’t be having any more. I should point out that it was Val who encouraged me to take a year off to write, and supported us through a number of lean years. She figured that was my mid-life crisis. I don’t know what she figures this year is. (I say that every year!)
My last novel for Zebra Books, NIGHTLIFE, was published in 1996, under the pseudonym Jack Ellis. Since then, I’ve written a handful of short stories, and continue to dabble at writing, although it has taken a back seat to other areas of my life. I’ve recently started to work at fiction again. I guess it’s one of those things that sticks with you. Whether or not another novel comes out of these efforts remains to be seen.
Other interest continue to provide pleasure. As always, I watch bad horror, SF and action movies whenever I can. I continue to read SF and Horror along with a variety of other types of fiction and non-fiction. As a point of interest, the majority of books I read these days are in eBook format for Kindle or iBooks. Even when I buy a printed book, or receive one as a gift, I’ll sometimes still pick up the eBook version for convenience.
These days I make my living as a Web developer. I also instruct in Web programming at the University of Winnipeg. Now that I don’t need to earn money from writing, I’m starting to get back into it. Funny how that works.