I am from a small town in Australia. I went to a dozen schools and read lots of books at Griffith University. After graduating, I became a full-time vagabond.
I drifted around the world for many years, which - let’s face it - is something everybody ought to do. At various times I was homeless. For half a year I lived in mate’s garage. It was very romantic; I woke up every day covered in ants.
After a few years in Germany and Austria I found myself in Boston, where I was unexpectedly hired by Harvard University to fix computers. They put me in charge of all the computers in the Countway Library of Medicine and Harvard Health Publications. So that was cool.
Nobody saw it coming. On the other hand, being unexpectedly hired by Harvard doesn’t even appear in my top ten list of Weird Things That Have Happened to Me.
Look, you know what? It’s fine that you think I’m exaggerating, but let me give you a random example from my top-ten list, just so you know the sort of weirdness I’ve been dealing with.
#7: Reading War and Peace on a train when suddenly the carriage catches on fire.
I was up to a particularly good bit, too, so not paying much attention to the day-to-day. Naturally it had registered with me that the train had stopped. Everybody had noisily rushed off. Commuters, huh? Always in such a hurry… The end of chapter was just over the page, so on I read.
Man, this train needs a good clean, thought I, brushing away what I would later understand to be ash drifting down from the inferno above me.
A minute or two later I finished the chapter, climbed to my feet and stretched. Damn, Pierre Bezukhov! You need to get your house in order! Pronto! Then I wandered off the train, stepping between two firefighters, who regarded me with bewilderment. The roof of the carriage, I now noticed, looked like a dragon had sneezed on it.
In my defense, War and Peace is a very compelling book.
Meantime, my biography rushes on. By the end of 2007 I was a scientific programmer for a lab at Harvard. That was bit tricky, because I’m an autodidact and not especially talented at science, but I made a go of it anyway.
Friends were often taking me aside and saying things like: “What are you doing? Why aren’t you writing books? Because that’s what you should be doing. *You should be writing books!*”
In 2008 I founded an ecards website called Wrongcards, which offers cards that are unsuitable to send to people. I have now accepted that I am not very good at business ideas.
I had drifted into graphic design, illustration and web-development. I also wrote stories - many, many stories - because I always write stories and it reassured my friends somewhat that I wasn’t wasting my life with practical concerns.
After spending a few years as a really mediocre scientist I took a job as a creative director. Easy work, it turned out. All I had to do was show up late every day and tell everyone to listen to me because they were wrong. I could do that in my sleep.
In 2013, I quit Harvard to write books full-time. For years the consensus among my friends was that I was being a complete fool, staying in a job and worrying about my financial future.
“But what if it doesn’t work?” I’d suggest. “What if I can’t publish my books? Won’t I have thrown away a sensible career for nothing?”
They looked at me with equanimity. “If you don’t find a publisher you can just give your books away, for free. For the enjoyment of everyone!”
It was as if I was a damn fool for not having done all this already. (I have now accepted that my friends are not very good at business ideas either.)
Since 2013, then, I have been working on several novels at once. The first out the gate - The Harvard Skull Fiasco is my way of saying farewell to Harvard. I hope it is well-received, because that novel effectively euthanizes any future employment prospects that I might once have enjoyed.
I am now seeking a literary agent, so if you happen to know one, feel free to put them in touch with me. If it pans out, I’ll buy you dinner somewhere. Some place nice, where they have table cloths and everything.
By the way, you should feel free to do that word-of-mouth thing - you know? Don’t assume everyone else is doing it. Instead, be that cool person who knew all about me well before I became a household name, and before I sold out to corporate interests, bought that yacht, crashed that yacht, married that actress, divorced and was financially ruined by that actress, and was caught up in that llama sex scandal which, by the way, I would like to fervently deny in advance.