Thomas Fenske considers himself a hybrid Texas/North Carolina writer, but like most native Texans he knows that his soul ultimately belongs to Texas.
He has searched country roads in search of the best Chicken-Fried Steak, Chili, Texas BBQ, and real, honest-to-goodness Tex-Mex food and braved the long stretches of endless highways in the remote areas of the state just trying to get from here to there.
He's hiked the Guadalupe Mountains, canoed the Guadalupe River, and rafted the Rio Grande. He’s suffered through waves of mosquitoes in The Big Thicket, endured hurricanes, shivered through ice storms, battled hail, wind, floods, and blistered in the heat of the long Texas summers. Once he even rode across a fair-sized piece of ranch land looking for a lost longhorn cow and calf.
That’s not to say many of these things don’t exist in North Carolina too, especially the hail, ice storms, and hurricanes. Chicken Fried Steak? … he’s learned to translate that to Country Fried Steak. He’s decoded the nuances of NC BBQ too, but still knows one or two local places that serve good brisket. Tex-Mex … well, it’s gotten popular all over but he knows if he treads lightly on the menu he’ll find something passable and familiar. For good chili, he has to fend for himself.
Why did he leave the Lone Star State? He often asks himself that question and longs to return. Actually, it was for a job to better provide for his family and sadly, once he got stuck doing that -- well, shucks.
He'd like to say he was a product of the famed writing program at the University of Houston, but in fact, that program came into being shortly after he graduated. That’s not to say he didn’t have good creative writing teachers, but this is but one of many similar ironies that have been part of a recurring story of his life. Oh, examples? Here are a couple: When he was fourteen the driver’s license age was raised to sixteen. When he turned twenty-one the drinking age dropped to eighteen a week before. These are some of the tidbits he likes to refer to as a “slice of life” and he is always looking for ways to inject them into his stories.
He and his lovely wife of thirty-plus years currently share their home with nine cats. Somehow, he still manages to write amidst the chaos.