I grew up in and still live in California. After a very long stint mixing drinks and waiting tables, I got a masters degree in Creative Writing, Fiction from University of California Irvine and ended up, logically enough, working for a publishing company specializing in how-to books about computers. But who wants to be known as a computer writer? So I became a ski writer. Because it seemed fun at the time.
When I realized I no longer had anything new to say about Aspen or Vail, I went to work for Sunset, landing a job in the marketing department writing a newsletter for grocery store executives. My job was to call busy brand executives at General Foods and get them to explain to me the difference between Light and Low-Fat mayonnaise (I’m still confused). Eventually I was promoted to travel writer and instead of writing about mayonnaise, waxed eloquently about roller-blading, pinepeds, lighthouses, and other exciting topics.
Now I write for a dozen or so different magazines, some you’d know and some neither one of us has ever heard of. The first story I ever wrote for National Geographic Traveler was picked by Bill Bryson for Best American Travel Writing 2000. That got me to Berlin, Paris, Vancouver, and a few other places until they sent me on a 10-day trip down the Colorado River to recreate John Wesley Powell’s epic 1869 expedition. I turned in that story a year late. Because I had nothing to say. One day on the river was like the next. You get up, you float, you make camp, eat, drink and go to sleep. Day after day. Suffice it to say that “nature” is not my thing.
I need people. Characters (my background, remember, is as a fiction writer). I’ve won lots of awards. Some more impressive than others (my favorite is one I got from Scotland; they wanted me to wear a kilt in Edinburgh when they gave it to me). But every writer I know has won “some” award or another, so don’t be too impressed by that.