Yes, you heard it here first, folks! Male Jane Austen authors are kind of a rare breed (I can think of about 4 – 5 others off the top of my head), but we are out there. Adding to the confusion, of course, is my name, which we’ll touch on later. For my first act as a true Austen Authors blogger, I thought it prudent to introduce myself, regaling you all with the steamy details of my past. Here goes . . . (Gulp!)
It all started in a log cabin back in . . .
(Wait. No. They’ll never believe that.)
It was a dark and stormy night . . .
(What am I doing? Trying to write a bad mystery novel?)
In a small shack deep in the Himalayas . . .
Sorry, everyone, but you just can’t make a boring life mysterious. In fact, I was born in the General Hospital in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada almost a month to the day after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. For some of you Americans, that might actually be mysterious enough! Not only is he a guy, but he’s also a Canadian! Don’t they come from Mars or something?
I grew up a typical young kid, interested in hockey, music, and avoiding homework as much as I possibly could. Oh, and one other thing—though I read voraciously as a kid, I had no thought whatsoever about writing. Nope, that came much later in life!
First of all, let’s address that pesky name issue. My parents come from different backgrounds: my dad was an American who served in the Second World War and then came to Canada on a whim, while my mother is a small-town girl from Saskatchewan. They met, got married, and had five children, and then the light of their lives came along. Yes, you guessed it: me! Not only am I the youngest, but I’m also the youngest by seven years. My father, who named the boys, did okay with the first son’s name, Colin. The second wasn’t so bad, though Rob went by his middle name—Kim—for years, until he got tired of having people call him on the phone asking for Ms. Rowland. As for me, my father always told me that if I didn’t like my first name, I could just use my middle. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen myself as a “Mike.” So the girly name stuck.
I grew up, graduated from high school, spent a bit of time in Japan (I speak Japanese fluently, though I’ve never bothered to learn to read and write), met a Japanese woman in Little Tokyo (otherwise known as Banff, Alberta), got married, and had kids. My kids ages are spread out, the oldest being twenty-two, the middle sixteen, and our little girl only six. It wasn’t until after my first child was born that I began to take an interest in actually writing my own stories.
As I mentioned, I read lots as a kid. Though my tastes were somewhat eclectic, my first love was always fantasy fiction, and I probably read ten times the amount of fantasy as every other genre together. As a young father and university student, I had a dream which led to my first efforts at writing. (For any non-Pride and Prejudice fiction, my ideas usually come from the few dreams I can remember.) I learned an important lesson from that experience—no outline = failure. That manuscript was long, rambling, and, as charitably put in the words of one of my sisters, rather sleep-inducing. Now I use the proper process for writing, and I like to think it’s much more successful.
But why romance and Pride and Prejudice variations in general? During my university days, Pride and Prejudice was assigned reading for one of my classes. At the time, of course, I was less than impressed. I had read some classics, though somewhat sparingly, as I found I needed to be in the right mood for them. But reading a Regency romance written two hundred years ago? Boring.
My sister then suggested that rather than read it, maybe I would find it more interesting to watch the miniseries first. And then I was hooked. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are my favorite Darcy and Elizabeth to this day, but I think what really got me amused and engaged was His Oiliness, Mr. Collins. I love that portrayal of Elizabeth’s slimy cousin, and I typically base my Mr. Collins on it. After watching the miniseries, I devoured the novel whole and was able to put in a passable paper to the professor. Since I was already writing by that time, it was not a huge stretch to think that at some point I might think about writing my own variations, especially after I discovered Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. And a star was born. Err . . . I mean, this dude with a girly name started writing Pride and Prejudice variations and confusing the heck out of Amazon patrons.
Now, I do this for a living. I spent fourteen years at a large, multinational IT company which shall remain unnamed, hating virtually every moment of my time there. Self-publishing and Pride and Prejudice allowed me to leave that world behind. But as you will see if you peruse my bio (which will be updated and made more interesting when I get off my butt to do it), I write other things. Fantasy is still a big favorite, and I have a few ideas in the works there, and I’m also interested in historical fiction which is not based on the works of Jane Austen. There might even be a thriller or two in me at some point.
Well, there you have it: the whole sordid story! I can only hope I didn’t bore you to tears!
Now for the good stuff. I’m hard at work on my next Pride and Prejudice variation. It will be entitled My Brother’s Keeper, and it is tentatively scheduled for release on November 14, 2016.(In case you’re wondering, the featured image is a mock up of the cover, and though I reserve the right to make copious changes to it, a mask of some kind will be featured prominently.) I am offering to give away three signed copies of the paperback to people chosen from among those who comment below. The contest will close at midnight, EDT on Saturday, October 22, 2016. Once I get it published, I will order my copies, sign them, and send them out to the winners. Good luck, everyone! And thank you for reading!