Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were your favorite types of stories? If not, what about it didn't you like? What would you choose to do instead?

Does spending 6 hours on a Saturday rummaging through a paper recycling dumpster in the hopes of finding a picture of a naked boob or even a bra advertisement count as reading? If so, YES, I very much enjoyed reading very much as a kid!

No? Darn. Actually, I really did enjoy reading as a child but my reading intensity waxed and waned with the sports seasons. On the off time of the year, I remember that “library day” was a pretty good day of the week for me. Now that I think about it, enjoying library day made me feel a little weird too since there weren’t too many other guys who seemed to be enjoying the library for the books.

James and the Giant Peach hooked me into reading that type of children’s fantasy/fiction. I stuck with those types of stories until high school when they start force feeding you other genres. Thankfully.

What kind of student would you say you were? What was your favorite subject? Your least favorite?

I was not a good student. My grades were probably considered high but with regard to my studies and overall work ethic I was sloppy and undisciplined. This is actually one of those “areas for improvement” that has been staring me in the face all my life. So, to jump ahead to one of the questions below, yes, I consider myself intelligent. Intelligent enough to pass classes easily having done the minimum. Not a good way to go about things at all.

The Sciences have held my interest from grade school through to college resulting in a Biology degree that somehow lead me into a related career.

History was by far my least favorite subject. I tried. I really did. I just could not garner any interest.

Who was the most influential adult in your life growing up? What was it about them that made them so important to you?

The easy answer is my father. He’s the guy I want to be when I grow up. The larger and much more complex answer is that the adults in my extended family were the most influential in my life. My dad is the youngest of 13 children. Many of them life close to where I live. They have kids and their kids have kids and some of their kids of have kids. Translation: I probably have 120 relatives within a 20 mile radius many of whom I respect and admire. I’ve always felt lucky growing. I swear I had 3 fathers. My dad and 2 of his brothers who are particularly close are the people I’d consider most influential. In spite of life, they’ve set the example in simple yet amazing ways.

Do you consider yourself funny?

Um, yea, I consider myself funny but I’m not under any impression that other people find me funny. I post jokes here at AW ad nauseam most to amuse myself. And you might know this already but I’m a wise ass. I enjoy ripping off a few wise cracks in the hopes of amusing people but I really don’t know if I’m funny. Everyday events are funny if you ask me – like rotting pumpkins and kids that punch groundhogs in the head.

Do you enjoy getting together with people? Would you consider yourself 'popular'?

Popular? Absolutely! But that’s only because my kids are too young to be embarrassed by me yet.

I enjoy socializing and am most comfortable in relatively small groups. A few guys going for drinks or a few couples coming over for dinner and drinks are the best times for me. I’ve always hated crowds, loud places, and concerts even when I was doing all that stuff. All in all, I’m a pretty reserved person.

What was the worst job you've ever had?

In 1985-ish, I applied for a job at the tile factory. We all did. The place was huge enough where just about every high school kid who wanted to work could get a job doing something. My application was accepted and the paper they gave me said “plumber” on it.

So, I went to my job as a plumber on the assigned day at the assigned time only to find out that I wasn’t exactly going to be a plumber. My actual job was to carry around the wrenches for the real plumber. Remember, this place was huge. The facility was almost a full mile long. The plumbing was massive which meant the wrenches were big. I was in charge of the 5 foot wrench.

So, here’s how it went, the plumber would look at his work order, hop into his golf cart and head off to the part of the building where the work was needed. I’d have to walk the 5 foot wrench to where ever he was and then hand it to him.

There’s more. Once the guy decided that wasn’t fun anymore he decided to have us paint pipes in the little out buildings. They were small brick rooms with no windows and packed full of pipes. It would take about a week to paint the pipes in a 10x10 room.

Wait, there is more.

The grand finale for the summer was that he made us clean out the inside of the boilers. 2 of them, each about 2 stories high. Crawl in to a 2x2 opening with vacuums and get to work.

The guy who made us do that is probably a legend now for what he did to us. I can hear it now, “Remember when Rusty stuffed those summer kids into the boiler?”

What was the best job you've ever had?

Jobs during school aside, I’ve only had 3 jobs plus my current one in 20 years.

Job number 2 was probably the best to date. I fell ass backwards out of working in lab at a pharmaceutical company into working for a contract research organization running clinical studies. I was employee number 5. Being so small I learned everything, EVERYTHING, about clinical research including medical writing where I found I had some skills. I loved it and still do even though I don’t do it much anymore.

At some point that company decided to open up a staffing company provided clinical research professionals and somehow I ended up running that business. We provided one off staffing where clients asked us for one person either on a contract basis or as a permanent employee of the client. The other more interesting part of the business was providing project based staff. We’d provided teams of people to our clients and manage the project. Managing teams of medical writers gave me a front seat view of how odd you writers can be. Keep in mind that I’m not talking about any of the freaks reading this – you people are normal.

I was there for almost 9 years and by the time I had decided to move on the company was up to nearly 150 people most of whom I had personally recruited. Great place to work! And it gave me everything I needed to move my career forward in clinical research staffing and functional outsourcing.

What genre of writing do you prefer to read? What are you reading right now?

I prefer fiction. I guess I need the escape or something deep like that. That said, I skew towards novels that deal with simple things that we all deal with in our own lives. In a word, I’m forever intrigued with the author who can take a simple moment in a life and verbalize it in relatable words and phrases.

My dad reads these epic historical biographies (Churchill, Stalin, etc) that he keeps trying to get me to read. I just can’t get interested although I’m keep wondering if at some point I will. Is there an age when looking backwards is more interesting or more important than looking forward? *insert the shrug guy here*

Currently, I’m reading The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama.

What is it about this genre that most appeals to you?

When I read I want out. I like jumping into other peoples lives and letting them deal with it for a while. And again, the author who has the writing skills to offer up intriguing thoughts on any given situation, especially the mundane, are my guys. Analyzing and the verbalizing apparent trivialities by pausing to look at them is the appeal. There’s no doubt I read that somewhere.

Do you write the same type of stories?

I try but I’m under no impression that I have that gift.

I write short, hopefully amusing, stories that are almost always prompted by something that just occurred in my life. If I’m feeling particularly brave the stories wind up in the hands of a few friends and family.

I don’t think I’ve ever written anything over 10K words. I’m blown away by people who put together a technically sound full length book. The big story, the subplots, character development and all that is far too daunting!

Do you have a favorite author? A favorite book?

Favorite book – no. Favorite author – yes. I’ll go with John Updike. He’s the master of tedious minutia. For a lot of folks it’s frustrating but I get hooked in and consume it. Vonnegut andNicholson Baker are two other authors that I enjoy.

How would you characterize your writer's voice?

I’ve never thought about this before. I like writing short stories with dry humor where I’m a hero all delivered in a respectable manner.

So, the style of the guy that writes the things that I write is probably a mash-up of Steven Wright, Stewie from Family Guy, Batman and Ward Cleaver. In short, I don’t know how to answer this question other than to say if you’ve seen any of my posts on AW you know my style.

Is there a particular time of day or night you find most productive?

Unfortunately, I’m most productive in the mornings. I can sometimes steal some time in the mid morning if I have something that I’m really rolling with but the majority of the fun writing I do is done in the evenings.

Are there any rituals or routines you follow when it comes to writing?

No. If I have the time, I sit down and get right to it. After an idea hits I can usually get it down on paper relatively quickly. Remember, I write shorts. The first draft spills out pretty quickly.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what type?

No music. It has to be quiet. I’m easily distracted.

What would you like to achieve with your writing? What goals do you have?

I write for fun so for now, nothing. I’m not looking to get published if that’s what you’re asking. I’m happy jotting down the amusing little things that I do and I’m happy just to keep them in relative comfort of friends and family. For now, that is.

I lurk on the writing threads at AW and try to take away the things that apply.
Maybe in the future I’ll submit somewhere and see where it takes me.

What would you say your writing strengths are?
What are your weaknesses?

Well, the cop out answer here is that my strength is to be able to take a snippet of a day and turn into an amusing little story. Take yesterday for instance, when some nut job asked me if he could interview me. He had no idea that I had just been to the grocery store to pick up two boneless pork shoulders. I’m also sure that he had no clue that when the cashier picked one up, it somehow came out of the packaging and as it fell to the floor I instinctively went to catch it, missed, and sent it slapping into the legs of the lady next in line.

My weakness is that I can not take that story any further. I can’t fathom what happens next and weaving it into a novel. It’s beyond my comprehension right now.

Do you prefer to read dialog or narrative? Which do you prefer to write?

I prefer reading and writing narrative. Bits of dialog are necessary but for my writing but the narrative offers up the meat and potatoes. I tend to feel the same what about the books I read. The dialog serves its purpose but for me the narrative tells the story.