Where did the doll come from and what other life experience was used in the novel?

In the Author Biography, you indicate OUTBACK was inspired by a brown doll you had during your childhood. Where did the doll come from and what other life experience was used in the novel?

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_Author

In the years since my childhood, I’ve learned to appreciate the value of dolls and toys as companions in my life. As a Caucasian boy, owning a brown baby doll named Driew was open season for teasing. I protected our colorful relationship which made me a better man in many ways.

I have what I’ve come to call an “adopted family,”­ characters who  came into my life when my family is absent. In their own way, they provided me with an imaginative love that became the structure for my artistic talent. I thank Driew and many more like him.

In OUTBACK, I wanted to bring some of my out back magic to the book. I wanted the book to be about the bonds formed between people that become your adopted family. Hopefully readers are engaged by my writing.

Read the full OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, Conversation with the Author

As a Kentucky native and a Florida transplant, how autobiographical is this story in comparison to your own?

As a Kentucky native and a Florida transplant, how autobiographical is this story in comparison to your own?

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_Author

I did pull from my own experiences of visiting my Kentucky family as an adult and how my Floridian children must feel when visiting Dawson Springs for weeks at a time. Growing up in Kentucky, my family was average middle class to most people living there and poor to outsiders when compared to big city living.

My childhood is a far cry from my adult life in a manicured Florida suburb. I wanted to share how caring for even the worst home can change everyone’s perspective. Like Gulia grew to love the Qweepie farm saying she “could live there forever.”

Read the full OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, Conversation with the Author

What is your inspiration for writing about the Bothers & Sinisters sibling dynamic?

What is your inspiration for writing about the Bothers & Sinisters sibling dynamic?

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_AuthorI believe we all come from multifaceted dysfunctional family. The drama within the smallest of families offers rich writing inspiration. “Sissy,” my cousin Gayla, reminded me of bothersome and sinister things we did as children that our parents never knew. Funny thing was my parents, aunts, and uncles had the same experiences.

What inspired me to use a family tree as my inspiration was the falling out of family members and the severed relationships due to traumatic words that wounded the entire tree. Words in a family can change the entire dynamic for future generations.

When I was hurting as a kid, I found comfort out back in trees. I carved my childhood feelings on tree branches that healed over time hiding my words and feelings. I believe family trees heal much like trees in nature—over time.

Read the full OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, Conversation with the Author

 

Student Question: “What Did You Look Like as a Kid?”

As a kid, I looked like any other kid. At least one tooth was missing from first grade through sixth grade. My 1970’s wardrobe was cool. I didn’t like to brush my hair, however I enjoyed dressing for special occasions. By the sixth grade, I wore glasses—thanks to many hours playing my Atari.

Do you ever think about being an adult? I did. My mind was full of questions. What life would be like when I was an adult? Would I leave home? Would I fly on an airplane? Would I drive a car? Would I look the same in twenty years?

The photos show a gradual change each year. Daily I learned new things shaping me into the man I am today. My parents would say, be a kid as long as you can. I now understand what that means.

Growing up is a slow process, however aging is much faster. My favorite thing about being an adult is: being an adult means you can be a kid too!

How to Win Friends & Influence People: MWA, Inc. Must Read List

My childhood dream was to become a Walt Disney animator. In November 1995, during the pursuit of my dream, I booked a flight from Florida to California. I’d never been on an airplane much less to California. Was my dream worth moving across the United States?

Being a country boy at heart—California’s mountains, lakes, and oceans were more appealing than Florida’s flatlands. Runs along massive beaches, visits to major tourist sites, and Yosemite National Park made this a monumental trip. So what event caused me stay in Florida?

A lady with an ora of wealth sat next to me during my return flight to Florida. Okay, maybe it wasn’t her ora as much as her gem-covered hands reflecting wealth. Who was she? Are those costume rings? How did she earn her wealth? I awkwardly asked, “You appear successful. May I ask how it happened?”

She smiled back. I anticipated a fantastic story! Her answer wasn’t fantastic, but an interview of my life. She asked questions about my family, occupation, recreation, and monetary goals. Her questions were genuine, as she listened to each of my answers. Twenty minutes into the conversation, she asked, “Do you still want to know how I became successful?”

“Yes! Of course I do.” I said.

She said, “The secret is three books. Practice everything in each book. Don’t read the next book until you’ve completed last. The first book is How to Win Friends & Influence People.”

“My college friends and I joke about this book.” I chuckled.

“You shouldn’t laugh. We’ve talked for nearly thirty minutes, and you haven’t asked my name. Read this book first!” she said.

In so many ways, she was right. My listening improves each time I read this book. That’s why I’m reading How to Win Friends & Influence People this month. Her second book was even more impactful. I’ll share it next month.