I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. When I was five years old my parents gave me an old manual typewriter that weighed more than I did! It was my favorite possession. I spent hours in my room clacking away on that old typewriter. Of course, when I was five I didn't know how to spell and I barely knew how to read, but I loved the sound and the look of the letters on the crisp white paper.
Things haven't changed much since then. I still spend several hours a day in my room clacking away and I still love the sound of the keyboard and the look of the letters and words that eventually turn into stories. The only difference is that I can read now and I spell a lot better.
Wanting to write led me to working with animals. I was going to Portland State University majoring in English so I could become a writer. One day I was looking at the job placement board hoping to find part-time work and I saw an opening at the children's zoo in town. I got the job. Soon after I started at the zoo, two agoutis escaped from their cage and disappeared into the park surrounding the zoo. (Agoutis are very large rodents from South America). My boss told me to go out into the park and catch them. I didn't know at the time, but she was playing a joke on me. Everyone thought the agoutis would never be seen again. I not only found the agoutis, but I managed to catch them and bring them back to the zoo. My boss was shocked!
Another time I was walking through the zoo with the Animal Keeper Foreman. We came around a corner just as someone accidentally let a Myna bird out of a cage. Without thinking, I jumped up and caught it with my bare hands and put it back in the cage. Catching these animals was pure luck, but the Zoo Foreman was so impressed he offered me a full-time Animal Keeper position in the BIG zoo. I accepted thinking that I'd work there for a year or two and perhaps my experiences would make good material for a book. Little did I know that I would be working with animals for over twenty years and that the work would take me all over the world. I continued to practice my writing while I worked in the zoo, but it was hard because my animal work took a lot of time. Eventually, I published a few books and I left the zoo so I could write full-time.
My wife, Marie, and I live on a small farm south of Portland. I spend my days in my basement office writing stories that usually include animals. If I'm not writing I'm traveling -- doing research and taking photos for upcoming books. Or, I'm out visiting schools -- something I love to do! My writing led me to animals and my work with animals led me back to writing. It's funny how things work out. I spent over twenty years working with animals. Now I'm going to spend the next twenty years writing about animals...as well as a few other things.