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 I started writing articles for Focus on the Family and the Traditional Values Coalition (unpublished), and Concerned Women for America (yes, they published some of them).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.