Looking back on my career as a writer, I realize that I’ve actually had three careers. As a young man, I wrote juvenile and young adult novels that were light, entertaining, and fun. I wrote seven of them—comedies, mysteries, sports stories, science fiction—and enjoyed every one. I especially liked dreaming up unusual, eccentric characters, such as Splat, a wisecracking tuba player who loves Mahler and solves mysteries in a youth orchestra; and Sammy Carducci, an eleven-year-old kid who wears a suit, tie, and sneakers and thinks he’s an authority on women.
After writing books for a while, I found myself growing restless. I wanted to try something different, and I found it in the theater. For years I wrote plays, most of them for adults. In the process I learned that humor could be serious and that I had important things I wanted to say. I wrote about major league umpires and integrity; about a child actor, childlike parents, and home; about Shakers, artists, and trumpet players. I collaborated on a cantata, an oratorio, and two children’s operas.
More recently, I rediscovered books and a love of history, resulting in Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial, followed by On Beale Street, about music, race, and Elvis Presley in 1954 Memphis; The Year of the Bomb, about horror movies, spies, and paranoia in a little California town in 1955; Night on Fire, about the Freedom Riders in 1960s Alabama; Dreambender, a novel about fear and freedom in a world nearly destroyed in an ecological disaster; Room of Shadows, about a boy whose anger summons the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe to modern-day Baltimore; and, most recently, Lord of the Mountain, a coming-of-age story set in 1927 at the birth of country music. I like to think that in my third career, I’ve combined the best elements of my previous two careers, writing about serious themes such as love, trust, and honesty in stories that are both compelling and enjoyable—stories that I would like to read.
In addition to writing, I edit books and produce audio and video programs. I started out in educational publishing, joined Walt Disney Records as director of product development, and later served as senior editor at the United Methodist Publishing House.
After spending my early life in Los Angeles, I moved to Nashville, where I live happily with my wife Yvonne Martin Kidd and my daughter Maggie.