I’m from a small town in Queensland, Australia. I attended a dozen schools, then went to Griffith University to read lots of books. After I graduated I became a full-time vagabond.
I drifted around the world for many years, which, let’s face it, is something everyone ought to do. At various times I was homeless. For half a year I lived in a 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 machines in the Countway Library of Medicine and Harvard Health Publications. So that was cool.
As a working class bloke from Queensland I was a bit surprised. On the other hand, being 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 here’s a random example from that list so you can see the sorts of silly situations I’ve had to endure.
#7: Reading War and Peace on a train when the carriage caught fire.
I was up to a particularly good bit, too, and thus not paying much attention to the day-to-day. It had registered with me, of course, that the train had stopped. Everybody had rushed off noisily — commuters, huh? Always in such a hurry — but the end of the chapter was just over the page, and you know how it is.
Man, they should really clean these trains better, thought I, brushing away what I would later realise was ash drifting down from the inferno above.
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!
As I stepped down from the carriage, I noticed two firefighters standing on either side of me, gazing back at me with expressions of shock and bewilderment respectively. The roof of the carriage, I now observed, looked like a dragon had sneezed on it.
In my defense, War and Peace is a very compelling book, and I recommend it heartily.
Meanwhile, my biography rushes on.
At the end of 2007 I was invited to join a lab at Harvard as a scientific programmer. That was bit tricky because I’m an autodidact and not especially talented at science, but I made a go of it anyway.
Friends started 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 talk a little bit about why I did that over here. By the way, I have now accepted that I am not very good at business ideas.
I 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 frittering away my life being practical.
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 mates (and many of my colleagues) was that I was being a complete fool, staying in a job and worrying about my financial future and mortgage.
“But what if it doesn’t work?” I’d wonder. “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 away your books for free. For the enjoyment of everyone!”
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 one I’ve completed — 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.
Incidentally, anyone reading this should feel free to do that word-of-mouth thing - you know? Don’t assume everyone else is doing it. Instead, aim to be that cool person who knew all about me back before I was a household name, and before I sold out to corporate interests, bought that yacht, crashed that yacht, married that actress and was divorced and financially ruined by that actress, or was caught up in that llama sex scandal which, by the way, I would like to fervently deny in advance.