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Q: Where were you born? A: I was born in Chicago in 1966. My family moved out to Round Lake Beach in 1971. I currently reside in Lindenhurst, Illinois with my wife, Katrinka.

Q: When did you discover you had a knack for writing? A: In Mr. Kearby's 5th Grade class in Beach Elementary School . Back then, to get kids interested in reading, the school had a Sustained Silent Reading Hour but I would spend that hour writing funny articles in a fake newspaper on big blue construction paper tied together with pink yarn. I called it the Blue News and all the stories were blue-themed. I remember one of the articles was about Neil Diamond's Song Sung Blue single and how it caused a rash of people to paint themselves blue and run naked through city streets. It was a big hit with the kids in class.

Q: When did you become serious about writing? A: During my Freshman year in High School, 1980, a friend of mine and I built an office in my basement specifically designed for us to get away from it all, listen to music and write. We called it Adventure Stories, Inc. and even wrote up a constitution, one of the silly rules was that only Rock and Roll and Blues could be played in there. We wrote stories based on Marvel Comics superheros and since I was also an artist, I drew the covers and colored them. I still have a bunch of them. They make me laugh now but at the time it was part of the learning process and now seem so important.

Q: What happened after you graduated from high school? A: I got married and had a son. Hard to believe but he's a grown man and a firefighter now, my Firefighter 2070 book is based on his experience in becoming a firefighter. In 1996 I got divorced and married Katrinka Van Wyk in 2005.

Q: Have you continued schooling yourself in writing? A: I have studied poetry and writing under Paulette Roeske at the College of Lake County in Grayslake , Illinois . Her instruction has changed the way I approach my writing and any success I will achieve is partly due to her.

Q: Who are some of the writers that inspire you? A: As far as short stories go, no one did it better than Chekhov. The quantity and the quality of his stories is mind-boggling. As far as novels go, Hemingway does it for me. His crisp, clear sentences and bold themes are easier to understand than most people think. Mark Twain is another favorite of mine. Then there is Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, all supreme masters in their field.

Q: How often do you find time to write? A: Well, I work two jobs but still find some time to write. I try to write at least three to four hours a day, mostly in the afternoon or night, and that translates to 2,000-3,000 words.

Q: Where do you write? A: I have an office in my house. I go down there with a cool drink, lock the door, take the phone off, play loud music and write until my eyes or fingers give out. I have a sign on the wall next to my desk that says "What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell?" It's a constant reminder to me to make the experience I'm writing about as real to the reader as possible.

Q: What do you like to write about? A: Anything that interests me about the human condition. I've written science fiction, horror, fantasy, illustrated children's stories and a lot of what people call character-based literature. It all depends on what motivates me at the time and what I have to say about a certain subject. I don't want to be labeled as a writer of a specific genre. My interests are too varied for me to write eighteen horror stories in a row. I want to explore different subjects and hopefully get better at writing in the process. Resting on your laurels doesn't accomplish that. I've always wondered what a science fiction story from Hemingway would have sounded like, could you imagine that?

Q: Where do you get your ideas? A: In many places at many times. Stories are everywhere. I could be driving along somewhere and I'll see a woman doing her makeup while she drives in the car in front of me and I'll wonder what she may be thinking about and who she is and a story will build from there. Or something I use very effectively are my dreams. Many times a story has come to me in a dream and that's because I prepare myself before I fall asleep every night (a writer's secret). I even keep a dream journal next to my bed so I can get them down before I forget them. A writer has to keep himself open to things, like an empty glass, and then pour it out as he writes.

Q: Do you ever use an outline while you write? A: All the time. Stephen King once said that using an outline is like an artist using a paint by numbers kit. Pure horse twaddle! An outline helps me organize my thoughts, it helps me pace the novel, it helps me decide when and where I want to use a certain word or scene that may be critical to the story, it helps me tighten the story up so well that when I start the actual writing I don't have to worry if my main character did or didn't do a certain thing in Chapter One and in the end neither does the reader. I also get to know my characters intimately through this process, which is one of the most important things in writing. If the writer doesn't know their characters, then neither will the reader. It's an effective tool I'll always use. Maybe if Stephen King used an outline he wouldn't repeat himself like he does.

Q: What among all of your work is your favorite? A: Whatever I'm writing at the moment.

Q: What about designing cover art for your novels? A: Well, for every writer it's different. Being a graphic artist, I usually design something before I start writing the story and that inspires me as I hash it out, then I give it to the publisher when I'm finished. It's really their decision to use it or not. My job is to write something as best as I can, not design book covers.

Q: Have you had many rejections? A: I've got a file two inches thick to prove it! From novel manuscripts to short stories, I've had it all rejected. The thing is to keep going and make noise. You shoot enough cannons at the wall, the wall is sure to come down.

Q: Have you ever had writer's block? A: No. In my opinion, there's no such thing as writer's block. That's just an excuse not to write. Writers write. If you're not writing then you're not really a writer. Real writers love not only what they're writing about but the actual process of writing. What if a garbage man suddenly got garbage block? There'd be garbage piled in our yards up to the treetops. What I'm saying is that writing is hard work and writers love every word, every sentence of it, even if it's bad. They'll never let it pile up inside of them because it'll affect them and everyone around them negatively.

Q: What's in the future for you writing-wise? A: Well, I always have something going on. In the spring and summer I usually write short stories and then in the fall and winter I write my novels. My birthday in the last day of November so I always take my vacation that week to start a novel. I've been doing this for a decade.