More About the Author
I have been a writer all my life. I was nine years old when Mom said it was OK to use the Remington typewriter she got at the rummage sale, as long as I promised to push down only one key at a time and always have a sheet of paper in the roller. Within two days I had pecked out my first adventure tale, "The Babies Underwater," featuring the charming and mischievous Baby Bwudder and Baby Bwat. The plot was heavy on sound effects, and included a trampoline capable of propelling the twin babies all the way to the moon. The story was a hit with my younger sisters, especially when read aloud, and I never stopped writing after that.
Growing up in Buffalo, New York, and later, Detroit, provided me tons of Jean Shepherd-type material to work with, even though I was deprived of his Depression-era advantage. As I was graduating from the University of Detroit, ready to become a cartoonist, the next great American novelist, or perhaps a newspaper editor, AT&T offered to pay me to go to graduate school in California to become an engineer. So I ended up as Dilbert instead of Scott Adams, engineering my life away in a cubicle. Eventually I specialized in the obscure field of cooling electronics (basic secret: if it gets hot, point a fan at it).
Although I had sold out for mere monetary security and technical challenges, I never stopped writing stories. At work I circulated a simple newsletter about cooling electronics. In it, my fictional character Herbie kept making cooling mistakes, and I had to keep fixing them. The newsletter was well received, so I cranked them out regularly to a growing audience. In response to popular demand, I collected the stories into a couple of books that were published by ASME Press: "Hot Air Rises and Heat Sinks," and "More Hot Air." They have been praised as being "the funniest books ever written on keeping electronics from overheating." Honest. Humorous technical books. That should tell you something.
My latest book, a fun novel based on the mostly imagined memory of people I grew up with in Detroit, sprang out of a simple idea. What would happen if you went to a town and everybody you met there was insane? How would you know you weren't the crazy one? Doesn't it seem that way when you visit the town where you grew up? I sat down at the old Remington with just that one idea, and as I started to type, the characters appeared and started to play out the story. All I did was watch them and write it down. OK, maybe that makes it seem like I'm the crazy one. Does it seem crazy to title a book "The Loose Meat Sandwich King of Hamtramck"? I think it's better than the original working title, "A Dead Guy Stole Your Identity." And it has hardly any cooling of electronics.
I am a great admirer of the action books of Elmore Leonard (a fellow Detroiter), but my storytelling tends to lie somewhere between the colorful nostalgia of Leif Enger's "Peace Like a River" and the goofiness of Dave Barry. I'm not in the same league with these writing giants, I'm just giving you some familiar literary signposts for the neighborhood I'm writing in.
I have lived my adult life (when did I become an adult?) in the Chicago area, where I continue cooling electronics and writing amusing stories. And I still struggle to outdo my best opening line ever, which my wife discovered in a pile of papers in the basement. In the eighth grade I scribbled down a short story that starts:
"I was sleeping as peacefully as could be expected ... for a spy."