I started writing monster stories in grade school, mostly because my friends liked them. My teachers didn’t.
By junior high, I was writing science fiction, culminating in my immortal The Apes of Grath. But then I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs and J.R.R. Tolkien, and realized I wanted to write fantasy. I have no idea how many fantasy novels I cranked out, over the next few years. They had titles like The Sword and the Whistle and The Westending Tale. They were horrible. I actually submitted them to publishers, but they didn’t show much interest in 18-year-old Tolkien wannabes. Hopefully all those manuscripts have perished.
After college, I got a job writing term papers (not legal anymore). I should mention that my four years of higher education converted me, unawares, to a shabby secular paganism.
From term papers I graduated to a career as a newspaperman. I was in journalism long enough to forget how to write fiction. When I left in 1980, I started writing short stories again–mostly mysteries, with a little horror. After about 300 or 400 rejections I finally sold my first story, The Bun Man, to Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine. After that, Shayne’s published half a dozen more of my stories.
However, short fiction wasn’t very lucrative, to say the least, so I went back to writing novels. Horror novels–back to where I started from. In 1986 Pinnacle Books published my vampire novel, Lifeblood. They went on to publish three more. Then the horror market imploded. I tried to switch over to mysteries, but my mysteries weren’t good enough. (I’m old enough to admit that now.)
Eventually God found me wandering around in unbelief and brought me back to where I belonged. I woke up to find my country going down the chute. I started writing articles for Focus on the Family and the Traditional Values Coalition (unpublished), and Concerned Women for America (yes, they published some of them). Acting on a suggestion from an editor at Focus on the Family, I sent some articles to the Chalcedon Foundation–and eventually wound up writing for Chalcedon full-time. I’m still there!
A few years ago somebody at Chalcedon suggested that the ministry’s publishing efforts ought to branch out into novels; and my editor, Susan Burns, pointed out that Chalcedon already had a published novelist on staff–me. And not long afterward, by a process that shall be discussed (and has been discussed) elswhere, voila–Bell Mountain. I was finally an official and bona fide fantasy writer, like I always wanted to be–and in God’s service, to boot.
He made me wait till I was ready. And He knew from the beginning when that would be.
9 comments on “My Writing History (in case you wanted to know)”
I’m pault1933 from pogo bowl. Talked to you the other night and we cross-invited each other to our blogs. I’ve read quite of bit of yours and must say you are a very fine writer. I’ve taken two of my grandsons to see Narnia movies and felt they were well done, although not completely to my taste although I’m a very long time fan of science fiction. I never made the Christian connection, I must admit, but it certainly sounds authentic as you describe it.
Although born and raised as a Roman Catholic I suspect I’ve become one of those creatures euphemistically known as ‘lapsed Catholics’. I think that’s just a nice way to call someone a heathen, but that’s all right. I think I’ve basically become disenchanted with the ‘magic’ of Catholocism and Christianity in general. Of course I have no alternative theory when it comes to the creation of the universe and all within it. Someone or something, I guess, had to be involved to start the whole lashup anyway but who or what that might be is far beyond my limited comprehension. Believe it or not, I actually wrote “several light years beyond my comprehension. Good lord, I almost allowed myself to use a measure of distance as a measure of time. As Bugs Bunny would say “What a maroon!”. After finding logical alternatives to, for instance, the virgin birth, the absolute cornerstone of the Catholic religion, I can no longer suspend my disbelief of all the rest. But that, of course, is neither here nor there.
Somehow I doubt that you’ve had the opportunity, or desire, to check out my blog, but if you had you’d find one that leans heavily on science, (if you could, in fact, call my ramblings real science, rather than the mumblings of a man on the good side of Altzheimers). I hasten to state that I’m not making a snide, sneaky or sarcastic comment about your writing or on your reading or not reading my scribblings.
In any event, I’m going to terminate this drivel before I turn a stranger into an enemy. I’m quite sincere when I compliment your writing. Although sharp and concise, it has a pleasant, lyrical flow that I find interesting and enjoyable. It’s to my loss, I guess, that at this late stage in my life (turned 77 in Sept.) I just can’t muster up the energy any more to parse religious concepts in fiction writing. It takes all I have to try to explain, at least to myself, how I think the universe may work on a so-called logical level as well as to keep track of the functioning of my enlarged prostate.
Very nice talking with you in the room. Hope you have a wonderful holiday, irrespective of how or if you celebrate it.
Paul, don’t worry about parsing religious concepts in my writing or anybody else’s. If you listen to some of the audio on this site, you’ll hear that I don’t go about slyly planting Sunday school lessons in my stories. There’s nothing to parse. Just relax and read. If God speaks to you, well and good.
If you’ve read most of what is posted on this site, you’ll know I’m skeptical about “science.” I put the word in quotes because these days, at least, one man’s science is another man’s humbug. “Climate science,” to take just one example (perhaps the most obnoxious), has a nakedly political agenda. Maybe you could say I’m a lapsed humanist.
I’m not Catholic myself, but half my family members and a number of my close friends are, so I think I am justified in making the following observation: that very many Catholics, even highly-educated ones, don’t seem to know the scriptures very well. One of my Catholic friends, a university professor (of the history of science, by the way), would be hard put to name the first five books of the Old Testament.
My point being that, rather than throw a lot of theology at you, I would urge you to forget all that and just read the Bible. All of it, part of it, starting from the beginning, or just skipping around, whatever you like–just relax, read, and see if it will speak to you.
The good news is you won’t have to give up science if you wind up believing God’s word. It would have been difficult to get science started at all if not for the premise–provided by the Bible–that God is a rational being who created the universe in a rational way, functioning according to laws that we as rational beings can discover.
But that’s a topic we can take up when we continue our conversation.
I am a bit behind, just now reading this – but enjoyed hearing of your journey and to see where God has led you now. Pretty Cool.
Well, you ask if there are any questions, so I’ll ask! In a single paragraph you made two tantalizing comments that left more unsaid than said. First, how did God find you and bring you “back to where I belonged”? And second, how was it that someone at Focus suggested Chalcedon? Or am I being too personal for a public blog?
Kevin Swanson once asked me that in a radio interview, so I’ll tell you what I told him. It was like I woke up one day, out of a deep sleep, and Bill Clinton was in the White House getting serviced by an intern, and Organized Sodomy was on the march, and people of my own age or even older, who ought to have known better, were holding a fire sale for core beliefs. All that stuff scared me back to God!
As for going from Focus to Chalcedon: not that anybody actually told me, but looking back on it, I think the folks at Focus thought I was too hard-nosed for them and a better fit with Chalcedon.
Just because some writings weren’t published didn’t mean you weren’t a great writer, as you’ve proven. “Scared back to God.” It’s a question only if you wish to elaborate. Thanks for sharing the progress of your success. Your perseverance is inspiring.
I meant it literally–suddenly I didn’t recognize the country I was living it, and it was glaringly, deafeningly, heart-shakingly obvious that the cause of all this was a wholesale desertion of Christian faith and doctrine. I really was scared!
There’s an interesting comparison in my life. I all but left Christianity due to disappointment with organized religion. I retained a belief in God, but all of the teachings about the coming Kingdom seemed a bit disconnected from my life.
Then, a friend made a casual comment about Israel being the only nation to ever come back into existence, and it did so after nearly 2,000 years. This got be back to studying the Bible to see if there truly was a scriptural significance to this. Lo and behold, I found that not only was this prophecied but that the current struggles over Jerusalem were very directly prophecied in Zechariah 12. I went from arm’s length Christianity to a much more immediate sense of the significance of all this happening before my eyes and during my lifetime.