I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t captivated by stories. While growing up, my family moved often as my electrician father transitioned from job to job. In each new place I met people with compelling stories to tell. The first home I remember was a twelve-acre farm outside of Bellingham, Washington, surrounded by towering mountains and lush forests, and nestled on the undeveloped southern end of Lake Samish. In the summer it stays light there until 10 p.m. and the scents of pine and evergreen mix with the salty air of Puget Sound. Introduced as a boy to the mystical aura of the ocean, I have always lived near either the Pacific or the Atlantic (except for a brief exile inland) and find in their enchantment a refuge for the soul.
In 1963 my parents bought a motel in the city and we moved to northern Bellingham so that my mother could earn an income as well as raise four children. At the motel I met a variety of guests with intriguing stories to tell – truckers, nightclub singers, traveling salesmen, families in transition, and many others. After short stays in Everett and Renton, Washington, we moved to Kent, where I gained a hard-won appreciation for Shakespeare at Meridian Junior High and got scolded in Math class for reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird instead of paying attention.
I spent my high school years on the island Guam in the western Pacific, where my father had taken a civil service job with the Navy. Along with running cross country, playing basketball, and working at McDonald’s and as a lifeguard, I had memorable reading experiences with All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane; The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne; and Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. In four years on the island, I had the good fortune of visiting Japan, Taiwan, and Hawaii, and of meeting people from all over the Pacific Rim. In reflective moments, Guam’s golden beaches, majestic palm trees, and rugged coral formations still come to mind, and I continue to receive inspiration from the formative years I spent there.
After high school, I returned to the mainland U.S. and attended Everett Community College and the University of Washington, where I majored in English and History. My professors assigned stacks of books by master storytellers such as Chaucer, Milton, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Faulkner, Conrad, Melville, Steinbeck and many others. I also discovered that history itself is an unfolding story of high drama and unforgettable characters. In college I loved these subjects but sometimes found it hard to see the practical value of them. I could never have imagined that I would eventually discover this value by writing a novel set in both Roman times and today.
In January 1977 my personal story reached a major turning point as I drove across the country to study at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. This was the beginning of an eleven-year journey through biblical and theological training that challenged my mind and engaged my heart. At Gordon I met my wife, Carol, and we married in 1978. After graduating in 1980, I became the pastor of an urban church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and enrolled in the Th.D. program at Boston University School of Theology. Although I have fond memories of riding my bike across the Charles River to BU, I’m still recovering from living in the heart of Red Sox Nation when the ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series.
It wasn’t until 1997, as the father of two young boys, that I became smitten by the urge to write fiction. I had published several nonfiction books while serving as pastor of the Community Church of Providence (my current position), but I felt the need for a more creative way to engage the world and to wrestle with my life and faith. I found storytelling unexpectedly, or perhaps it found me, and I have been engaged in this enormously demanding but endlessly rewarding work ever since.
I agree with the French novelist André Maurois that the need to write arises from an unresolved inner conflict. Writing is not a method for ending the conflict, but rather a way to deepen and broaden one’s awareness of it. In this expanded awareness lies the possibility of enlightened understanding. I am honored and grateful that you have chosen to seek this understanding by exploring my novel and my Web site. May light, love, and peace be with you always.
“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t captivated by stories.”
“Writing is not a method for ending the conflict, but rather a way to deepen and broaden one’s awareness of it. In this expanded awareness lies the possibility of enlightened understanding.”
Read Chapter One:
Read Chapter One of The Galilean Secret here: theGalileanSecret.com
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