Me in hat.jpg

Background

I grew up in southwestern Virginia and graduated with my BA from Davidson College, MA in literature from Bread Loaf School of English, and a MFA in fiction from GMU, where I served as Executive Editor of the literary magazine Phoebe.

Currently, I chair 7-12 English Department at Flint Hill, a college preparatory school, outside of Washington, DC, where I live with my partner Jeff and two ridiculously photogenic dogs, Winky and Roxy. (Really, the camera just loves them!)

Image by Afshan Bhatia, a Flint Hill alumna

Image by Afshan Bhatia, a Flint Hill alumna

What Scooby-Doo Taught Me About My Ghosts

Writing for me is about chasing ghosts and peeling off masks. I have Hanna-Barbera to thank for that.

As a kid, I would dash home from school, grab a packet of Pop-Tarts and a bottle of Mountain Dew, and hurry to the living room as that all-too-familiar jingle announced my favorite show on TV—Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? I loved this show with such furor, such unadulterated pleasure. I loved it because Scooby and Shaggy were believers. They believed in the Creeper and the Snow Ghost, the Miner 49er and the Witchdoctor even though time and time again, the mask would be ripped off, and the gloriously paranormal would be reduced to some schmuck in a suit.

I wanted to believe in ghosts too.

My father died when I was eight, and I was left with only an outline of a man, a phantom. Out of that void burgeoned my desire to write. My early compulsion to tell stories sprung from a need to fill in his outline, to uncover who he was. Throughout adolescence and my twenties, I continued chasing his ghost. During this time I married a woman, began teaching high school English, and established a conventional straight existence. But the more I pursued him, the more I realized it wasn't my father I was hoping to booby-trap and unveil, but myself. Then, much like hapless Scooby and Shaggy, I ensnared my own ghost and ripped the mask off—I came out of the closet and started living and writing truer to myself.

Now, instead of ripping off goofy latex masks, I pursue my phantoms as psychological metaphors, removing layers of deception and misdirection to unveil the truth about my characters.

Oh, and I like mean, cold-hearted craft cocktail. Image by KeyHan

Oh, and I like mean, cold-hearted craft cocktail.

Image by KeyHan