Like most writers, I was drawn to storytelling at a young age. My favorite kinds of stories were high adventure, with lots of action and, preferably, monsters. For a long time I developed writing alongside a love of art, even to the point of intending to become a cartoonist as a profession. But sometime after high school I decided I preferred to tell my stories with words instead of lines.
At the age of 22 I had the opportunity to do something that would ultimately change my life: attend college in Hawai`i. Until that point I had been going to a community college in Spokane, Washington, where I grew up, but I had always had the inklings of wanderlust and a yearning for the tropics. In a fit of desire brought on by another Pacific Northwest winter, I applied to the University of Hawai’i and the University of the Virgin Islands. Though I got into both, UH got back to me first, and my future was decided.
Only, a funny thing happened in paradise. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Pretty quickly I found I was carrying around a set of preconceptions that didn’t match the reality of life in Hawai`i. It wasn’t until I returned to the mainland and had time to gain some perspective that I began to realize the fault had been entirely mine. I hadn’t bothered to educate myself and had gone there with my eyes shut, wanting to maintain my pop culture fantasies instead of actually experience the place.
What came of this was a lifelong fascination with Hawai`i. Hoping to make it up to myself, I began to learn everything I could about the islands, even to the point where it began to get into my very soul.
In 1998 I graduated from Western Washington University, and went to the Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica for Peace Corps. Though I didn’t stay very long, I found I had a connection to the people and cultures of the Caribbean. This experience, plus a trip to the Bahamian island of Bimini in 1992, confirmed what I already suspected: I have a passion for the tropics. I love the movement, the sounds, the mood, the temper, the ways of the tropics, whether they be in the Pacific or the Caribbean.
I attended graduate school at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, Florida. There, I had the fortune of studying under Robert Olen Butler, the Pulitzer-prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. During grad school I also began teaching college freshman composition courses, which I continue to do to this day, a job I truly enjoy.
After I graduated with my M.A. in English (Creative Writing), I decided to return to Peace Corps. I served in Guyana, South America, where I worked with a local school doing adult education. Following this, I finally got my chance to move back to Hawai`i in 2007, where I lived for two more years before moving to Portland, Oregon, my current home. It was here that I met my wife, Rae, and decided to start a family. We live in Vancouver, Washington, with our beautiful daughter, Leilani.