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I grew up in a very small, rural town called Boston, about thirty minutes south of Buffalo, NY. Boston wasn’t quite a Rockwell painting but it was close – until recently we had a 24-hour bait machine at the local grocery store. Put in 1.50, get a bag of live nightcrawlers. That same local grocery store didn’t sell bagels until sometime around 1996. As a kid I remember seeing cream cheese on the store shelves but no bagels. I couldn’t understand what else cream cheese was used for, so I asked the kind man behind the deli counter if the store had run out of bagels.

What’s a bagel? he said.

I explained what a bagel was. He pointed to the doughnuts. I bought a cruller.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, starting with war stories and moving onto horror, inspired by my favorite childhood author, H.P. Lovecraft. I wrote an anthology in 9th grade called A Murder of Crows, which consisted of six gory tales. The only one I can remember is a short piece about a medieval execution, ending with a hooded executioner stomping on the headless neck of his victim. Chunks of meat flew into the crowd, stray dogs began to feast, etc. Nasty, juvenile, fun stuff. My English teacher gave me an A. She was the best English teacher I ever had.

College was at SUNY Buffalo. I majored in anthropology. I would have chosen history but I liked anthro’s hippie professors, who stood in stark contrast to the old historians who smelled of scotch and still bemoaned the fall of Constantinople. I kept writing horror stories on my old Commodore 128, but I’d since moved beyond those sophomoric tales of executioners stomping on necks. I started a story about a freshman at a small New England college who gets involved with rich kids – shades of Aberdeen? – and begins to suspect the rich kids are vampires. I know, I know, and eye rolls and moans are certainly in order, but writing is just as much running the faucet until the dirty water turns clear, as it is coming up with brilliant ideas on the spot. I ran my faucet for a very long time, and let me tell you, the water was very dirty.

At 21, and in the midst of post-breakup depression, I tried a brief career as the country’s youngest motivational speaker. I gave seminars at Barnes and Nobles on “Mental Self-Defense”, how to communicate effectively and determine what makes people act the way they act. My first seminar drew an audience of sixteen, thirteen of whom were family and friends. My dad fell asleep in the back row. I paid a guy twenty bucks to be a shill for an experiment I did with predicting a person’s mood based upon the motion of their eyes. The experiment, as you might imagine, was a success.

Junior year I started Aberdeen while working as a writer/host of my own radio political satire show. For money I taught kickboxing out of my apartment and held several jobs in retail. I met my wife at a gym, of all places, and after graduating we moved to a different Boston, in Massachusetts. She supported me – emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually – while I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. I finished my first novel... And that brings us to where we are now.



Photography by Greg Halpern


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