I’ve been climbing to the tops of mountains for about the past 30 years. You might say I’m a bit obsessed with mountains.
I graduated from a small college in Sarasota, Florida, called New College. Picture 400 or so smart, slightly geeky students against a backdrop of large palm trees. I majored in philosophy because I loved the subject, but never went to grad school in it, which is what we philosophy majors are supposed to do.
After some years of intensive meandering and somehow obtaining a master’s degree in creative writing, I suddenly found myself writing about the coal market for a small publishing company in Knoxville, Tennessee. This was caused by a collision of circumstances from which I emerged unscathed—even better off. It led to writing about international coal markets for McGraw Hill in Washington and then for the London Financial Times. I got to travel all sorts of interesting places—anywhere that either buys or sells coal—including Brazil, Colombia, India, Australia, Indonesia, and many countries in Europe.
My editor was a jolly and talented man named Gerard McCloskey who not only hobnobbed with producers from Sydney and traders from Rotterdam, but who also understood my interest in mountains and lent me some old dogeared guidebooks that enabled me to explore the Lake District and Scotland. I will always be grateful to Gerard. What is more important, he got to the top of some frightening peaks in North Wales and the Isle of Skye that I would probably be too chicken to climb.
In 2001, after writing about the coal market for 18 years, I decided I would like to do something different. I moved on to the logical next step of being a landscape designer specializing in environmentally correct plantings: native species, no invasives, compost rather than bagged fertilizers.
In 2004 I came down with pneumonia after a frigid episode of cross-country skiing in northern Vermont. In the months it took to recuperate, I rediscovered an old interest in military history: specifically the Civil War, followed by the Boer War. After I recovered from my pneumonia, I travelled to South Africa and wrote a book about the Boer War.
Since 1980 or so, all of these peculiar activities have been paralleled by many jaunts into the mountains. The Smokies were my formative influence, involving rockhopping (off trail) up rhododendron-choked streams in dark mysterious forests of giant tulip poplars and hemlocks. But there were also the New England 4000 Footers (regular flavor and in winter), Colorado Fourteeners, the Sierras, and the Catskills.
I am now a freelance editor with my own company called Summer Afternoon Editing Co., and the author of a murder mystery set in the Smokies. Murder at the Jumpoff was released March 1, 2012 by Canterbury House Publishers. I am also the proud author of a work of nonfiction about the Boer War, Transvaal Citizen.
I live in Sylva, North Carolina.