I’ve had a diversified, and somewhat peripatetic life, lived on three continents, spanning over seven decades, four careers, two wives, three children, and four granddaughters.
I was raised in Seattle, Washington, the eldest of three sons of a strict father and a loving mother. I drove an old jalopy and got a tattoo when I was seventeen (I subsequently had it removed). I graduated from the University of Nebraska, have a Masters Degree from the University of Wisconsin and have done doctoral work at the University of Southern California where I reached the ABD level.
I was an army officer for twenty-five years, two of which were spent in combat in Vietnam, but the best three were in Germany. This career took me all over the world and, of course, the US. At about the time I was preparing to retire, I met and married Elaine Head, a Canadian and have made my home in Canada ever since. My second career, which spanned almost twenty years, was management consulting. The money was good, but the demands were intense and living out of a suitcase while criss-crossing the country on a weekly basis was not fun. So I mothballed my suits, bought a sailboat and started teaching sailing. This paid next to nothing, but was fun and provided an opportunity to meet lots of great people. Finally I hatched my current career as a writer. This also pays next to nothing so far but is immensely satisfying. I’m also involved in my community by serving in a volunteer capacity on boards and councils.
My interest in writing stems in part from my lifelong love of books and reading but is also attributable in large measure to several courses I took all those many years ago as an undergraduate. Two courses in American Literature introduced me to Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Michener, Wolf and others and a course on Creative Writing triggered a love of metaphors, similes and lyrical prose.
Although my childhood and army career shaped a set of conservative values and attitudes, over the long arc of my life I have evolved into a much more socially conscious, and I hope sensitive, person. I think this is reflected in the three books I have written, all of which address contemporary social problems.
People have asked why, after collaborating on a non-fiction book with Elaine, I turned to fiction. The main reason is because I wanted to expose the ugliness of child trafficking in Southeast Asia and felt that a compelling story might reach a wider audience than a non-fiction piece. After all, Albert Camus is credited with saying,”fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
I retired from a large Canadian food retailer where I managed first the Human Resources Department, then the Training Department. I developed management training materials and taught team building and communication skills. I have written articles for magazines and newspapers about the work of Journey of the Heart, the humanitarian projects in Vietnam on which Bruce and I have embarked since 2006. I write and edit blog posts, news articles and promotional materials for Vietnamese clients and the CEOs of social change organizations for whom we work in Vietnam.
Bruce and I make presentations to church, business, social and veterans’ groups about our experiences — enlightening audiences about the culture of Vietnam, the history of the Vietnam war, the plight of veterans suffering from PTSD and the effects of Agent Orange on those veterans and the Vietnamese — and our work with the disabled, anti-trafficking and school children in remote villages.
At home on Salt Spring Island, I belong to a small writing group, work in the garden raise funds and maintain the blog for Journeys of the Heart. (http://ebtovietnam.blogspot.com). Bruce and I share four grown children and many “adopted” Vietnamese family members.