I was a Navy brat, the oldest of four kids. My dad served as a captain in the US Navy, so our family moved around a lot—North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia. When my dad finally took a post at the Pentagon for the remainder of his career, we finally landed for good in Falls Church, Virginia. After a high-school education under the no-nonsense tutelage of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, I set off for college one step ahead of a serious run-in with the Falls Church police—eventually completing my undergraduate education at Duke University and USC with a degree in physics. Following a stint as a systems engineer in the Southern California aerospace industry, I headed back to UCLA for graduate work, earning a DDS degree four years later. I passed the California Dental Board exam that summer and prepared to begin a new career.
At that point I think I had my first identity crisis. I liked school. It beat work, plus it allowed me to delay deciding what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. I had never really thought about the future much; I had just gone from day to day, surmounting one hurdle at a time. Now that I was finished with school, was this going to be it? Work for the rest of my life?
Not that I don’t like work. I held down part-time jobs during most of my college years— retail sales in a bookstore, swing shift on a loading dock, nights as a bartender. Like that.
In retrospect, I think those jobs were as influential as my formal education in shaping who I am. I recall little of my advanced math and physics courses (and by “little,” I mean zero), and I haven’t practiced dentistry in years, but I do remember things I picked up working various jobs, things I have been able to use in my writing.
Anyway, I opened a dental office on the Westside of town and began my life as an adult, but not without some side trips along the way. During the years I practiced dentistry in Brentwood (right down the street from where O.J. Simpson didn’t murder Ron and Nicole), I got my Screen Actors Guild card and “acted” in TV commercials, shamelessly promoting everything from luggage to beer. I also modeled in a worldwide print campaign for Camel cigarettes before “Joe Camel,” the famous R.J. Reynolds cartoon that more effectively targeted kids, took over RJR cigarette advertising. That job was fun (except for the smoking).
And I wrote fiction. Lots of fiction. All kinds of fiction. Mostly short stories, but some longer pieces, too. Some even got published.
Upon retiring from dentistry in my mid-thirties, I spent a decade as a real-estate developer specializing in beachfront construction in Malibu. Homes for the stars. More recently I’ve served as executive director for an Idaho nonprofit that promotes classical music concerts and presents various educational programs to our community. And I continue to write.
Okay, seems like a lot of careers for one guy, right? I agree. Bottom line, I was always ready to take a chance on something new, which led me down a lot of unexpected paths. But one constant remained throughout, something that gave me a way to use all my experiences, both good and bad. Writing.
And in the end, writing is what I finally decided I wanted to do. I think it’s what I do best.
My first novel, titled A Song for the Asking, was published to critical and reader acclaim by Bantam Books. The book was inspired by the question: “Can a homicide detective who deals with the worst of human nature go home to a normal family life?” In researching my fictional lead character, LAPD Detective Daniel Kane, I met some fascinating people, learned some unexpected things, and made some lifelong friends.
Since then I have continued the “Kane Novel” series, following up with Kane, a serial-killer thriller, and Allison, a kidnap-suspense tale told from the perspective of Kane’s daughter, Allison. A fourth in the series, L.A. Sniper, was published by Kindle Press. Infidel, the fifth of the Kane Novels, followed. Sixth in the series, Kane: Blood Moon, came out next, followed by the seventh in the series, Kane: Armageddon. Glow, a standalone sci-fi novel that chronicles the story of LA Times reporter Mike Callahan, is included in my backlist, as is a collection of my short fiction titled Stepping Stones.
I currently live in two of the most beautiful places on earth—Sun Valley, Idaho, and Umbria, Italy—with my lovely (and patient) wife Susan Spelius Gannon, who is a concert pianist and also an excellent editor, and our dog, Gordo. My days are spent skiing, whitewater kayaking, learning Italian, and writing. Not bad . . .