In 1977, I began working on a PhD in Nutritional Science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
From the outset, I suspected that I had made a mistake in my choice of a career path. That summer,
I took up the hobby of woodcarving, and the following year, I began keeping a journal with the intention
of writing a novel one day.
I turned my woodcarving sideline into a part-time business in 1980 when I began selling wooden spoons at a
craft cooperative in Madison. As meager as the income was from this enterprise, the fact that people would
pay me for something that I enjoyed doing, changed my perspective on making a living. In 1982,
I abandoned my science profession to pursue a career as a woodcarver and moved back to my native
Pennsylvania that spring.
The time demands that come with such an occupation made it difficult to work at writing, and for decades,
most of my literary effort went toward the journal. A number of attempts at writing a novel ended in frustration,
and nearly pushed me to the conviction that I should give up the idea entirely.
In 2004, I had my own woodcarving gallery, Hardwood Gallery, in a building on Main Street of Waynesville,
North Carolina. The upstairs of the building served as home, and my workshop was in the basement.
The urge to write returned that year and I set up a small writing room within my workshop. This time the story
that I had been mulling over since I lived in Madison, finally came together.
I worked, on the manuscript for the next two years, and by the summer of 2006, I self-published my first novel,
Wooden Spoons. I was so encouraged by the reception of Wooden Spoons that I began work
on another story that same year. Cataloochee Man is a story that was inspired by many solo hikes I took
in the Cataloochie Valley at that time. The manuscript of Cataloochee Man was completed ten months later,
and the book was published in 2009.
My third novel, The Man in the Room was a long time coming. I actually began working on the story a year
before Cataloochee Man was published, but external events disrupted my momentum on the project.
Hardwood Gallery was closed in 2008 and I purchased a house and a building near Marshall, North Carolina.
Over the course of two years I converted the building into a workshop and gallery. Walnut Creek Gallery
(now, Woodcarving Shoppe) opened on May 12, 2011.
In the fall of that year, I got back on track with regards to writing, revived the files that had lain dormant in my
computer, and forged ahead with the manuscript for The Man in the Room. The novel was four years
in the making, during which time I worked through some personal challenges, resulting in an introspective and
somewhat autobiographical story. The Man in the Room was published as an e-book on Christmas Day,
2012. The paperback was published the following March.
I had the story for The Battle of Walnut Hollow in my head before I finished The Man in the Room.
The idea came to me after I read an article detailing two high-profile standoffs from the early 1990's: the shootout
at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the siege in Waco, Texas. I worked on The Battle of Walnut Hollow
in fits and starts for four years, and more than once considered canning the whole idea. But after a layoff of
nearly a year, I got going again, in the summer of 2017.
The Battle of Walnut Hollow is my most political novel and indeed the politics of the day spurred me
on to finish the story. I published it in January of 2018 and I am fairly certain that this will be my last novel.
I intend to keep writing, but on a much smaller scale.
In my four novels, I've made every effort to tell a good story and entertain, but I also wove in my point of view
on life, things that I believe need to be said. Somehow I feel if I can't say it in four novels, then maybe I can't say it.
At any rate, Iíve satisfied my urge to write a novel, and I feel Iíve done the best I can. Now I want to prioritize
woodcarving again as I get older and also do more gardening. I plan to spend less time thinking and more time,
working with my hands.