One of my early childhood memories is the pre-dawn roar of lions in Chile's Santiago Zoo. It marked me for a life of adventure. My first fear had been of the moon. It terrified me when it rose out of the darkness. My second fear was growing up and having to get a job. At least this last fear showed hints of intelligent life inside my head.
I grew up speaking Russian and Spanish. I listened to everything and stored it for future use. My parents called me the Sponge. When they didn't want me to know what they were saying, they spoke in French. It took them some time to conclude I had learned French from them.
My first chance at writing came with a homework assignment at age eight. Write a one page free composition. I presented a four page unfinished novelette complete with ink spots, in German. It got me an F.
When I reached 18, I was no longer listening to anyone. My mother considered my epistles sent from various Far Eastern ports as masterpieces. She copied them and embarrassed me to all her relatives.
By my late twenties, I had been fairly successful in avoiding my childhood fear, work. After a hitch in the USMC, I packed a gun for a security outfit at night, went to flight school during the day. Aviation led me to Vietnam and Laos. Secretly, I wrote some explosive stuff for our pilot's labor union. It is reported the American ambassador went livid after reading an inflammatory tract, and wanted to know who wrote this shit. Many years later, this little incident became part of the concept for a thriller.
After the Vietnam War, I wrote my first novel. It was so awful that I limited myself to writing brochures. Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, I flew, sailed, got married, survived a shipwreck. In Kenya started my own safari outfit, and learned my seventh language, Swahili. Since I was one of the few outfitters operating in poacher's country and had excellent contacts, I got roped to work undercover for Kenya's Anti-poaching Unit This resulted in the poachers, and their protectors (my employers) going after me. At the dinner table, my revolver sat neatly next to the fish knife.
In Kenya I wrote a series of novels, all left unfinished, and a few articles that got published. Back in Chile, I ran horseback trips into the Andes, and trained horses off-season. Trying to recoup my fortune, in the States, I sold boats and taught navigation. Sands of Maraviti, was my first attempt at thrillers and the beginning of serious writing. By the time I finished, I had lost my friends and my job that was too much like work. Free of encumbrances, I wrote Temple Drums. This novel brought patronage that allowed me to extend writing full time. Part of my writing life is coordinating online workshops, chat and critique groups for the writers' community on AOL.
I have conquered my fear of the moon, but still prefer the nights when the moon is hiding and friendly stars show me the way.