I think I’m good at making things up. I have vivid imagination and always have. I remember when I was a little kid, I loved playing make believe – only it was very real to me – like when I’d pretended I was a TV chef – The Galloping Gourmet was at the forefront then – and I’d fill a wine glass with grape juice and ‘cook’ up a storm for the [imaginary] camera. Or after watching the Olympics, I’d go outside and make up my own sports, compete and then interview myself after winning the event in spectacular fashion [again all while that imaginary camera was rolling].
This ability has served me well as writer – a mantle I didn’t own for a really long time – since I didn’t major in English in college or go to graduate school to be a writer. I’m a late bloomer and when I started to write my first screenplay in the spring of 1992, I was 34 years old, unemployed, living unhappily and depressed in Cleveland, Ohio (no offense to that fine city). I had quit my job as a claims adjuster (it was actually my 4th claims adjusting job – and sadly not the last), but one day I couldn’t take it anymore and just walked out of the office never to return – probably not my finest – or most responsible – hour. I had always wanted to write and I loved movies often thinking I could write something like that (or more likely – I could do it better). Finally it was put up or shut up, so I bought a screenwriting book and with blind beginner’s luck wrote my first screenplay in thirty days. Not surprising that it was a thriller based on a protagonist who was an unhappy claims adjuster and found herself caught up in a murderous conspiracy and intrigue. It was probably terrible, but I entered a screenwriting competition and made a decent showing, just enough to spur my efforts on.
Fast forward to the late 1990’s when the nascent idea for my first novel began to form, based on a protagonist who is unhappily enrolled in a prestigious university and flounders due to his personal life unraveling, not in small part to a burgeoning alcohol problem. I wonder how I got that idea. Ok, so like probably a lot of writers, I riffed off my own life, but the actual book turned into more of an adventure story with a whole cast of crazy characters and even crazier plot twists than the usual angst ridden coming of age novel, but then, I think I’m good at making things up.