I remember back in Germany, I must have been around twelve years old when I began to read, or better devour, all the weekly 66-page novellas about ghost hunters, paranormal phenomenons, demons and vampires. I’d buy one on a Friday from my allowance (the other part of it went to seeing Kung Fu movies) and then would read it on Saturday morning before getting up. Later on, during my mid to late teens, came Alistair MacLean and Robert Ludlum who made me dream about becoming an international spy or a double agent. “Where Eagles Dare” or “The Matarese Circle” captured my imagination and I traveled with my heroes to all the exotic locations around the world, with danger lurking at every turn. It was then, at the age of seventeen, when I first realized that I wanted to write. It took me twenty years to actually start doing it and another ten before I wrote my first novel. Never give up.
Next came Stephen King. Boy, what a ride that was. I remember reading “IT” in four days during a vacation, sometimes while walking to and from the beach, stumbling over rocks and bumping into people. To be caught in his worlds was just so amazing – and terrifying at the same time. I read “Misery” when I was in the German Army during an exercise. It was 3AM and I was holding watch in a communications truck when my sergeant opened the door. I screamed like a baby and threw the book at him. Yeah, okay, not one of my most heroic moments. He read it after me.
In my late twenties I began reading fantasy. There was this tiny bookstore in the city I grew up in. It was called “Hermke’s Roman Boutique”. It was dark and dusty and packed to the ceiling with books old and new. I loved just being there and taking it all in. The smell, the crooked shelves and the semi darkness have stayed in my memory until this day. The owner, a very nice older man, had read probably all of the books he was selling. He was a wealth of information. We talked for a long time and eventually he stirred me toward a fantasy series that, up to this day, is still my favorite of all times: “The Farseer Trilogy” by Robin Hobb. “Assassin’s Apprentice”, “Royal Assassin”, and “Assassin’s Quest” contain, in my humble opinion, the best and most realized character in all of fantasy – a boy named Fitz Chivalry. From there I went on to others in the likes of Terry Goodkind and, of course, Orson Scott Card’s “Ender” books which are just phenomenal. The book store is still there. Not much has changed inside.
Besides Aaron Sorkin, who is my absolute writing idol, another major influence came from “A Course In Miracles” – a 1200 page book that is both an incredible literary work and a complete spiritual path of Self discovery. Mostly written in Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter it’s language just sings at times – besides the deep spiritual message it contains. In writing this I realize that its teachings as well as how it is written inform a large amount of my writing in general.
In 1996 I went to a three-month retreat in the Catskills at the Foundation for “A Course In Miracles”. There I met my now ex-wife and, after a short visit back to Germany, I decided to stay and settle in the beautiful Hudson Valley, NY. I live here now with my long-time girlfriend, her two kids, a black lab named Sophie, a bunny named Lucy and an ever changing number of backyard chickens. Writing happens at the kitchen table with the beloved chaos all around, Bose headphones plugged into my laptop, and Howard Shore on Pandora.
Very best wishes and good luck with everything!