orn in Chicago, I moved during my early teen years with my family to the Illinois River Valley. As my father often said, "we moved from Chicago to Illinois." Although raised as a Jehovah's Witness by my mother, my atheist folk-singer of a father and my friendship with a Buddhist grade-school teacher subtly started deeper ponderings that eventually led to my walk out the door of that institution. After graduating high school, I traveled through Morocco and Western Europe. I returned to Illinois to continue my education both academically and vitally. There I found that the common sod had born strange fruit. I found spirituality in the mundane and visa versa while working on one of the last steam-driven paddlewheel boats on the Mississippi River. I was tutored by shamans and vampires, psychics and cynics, and stumbled into abnormal and paranormal adventures all within the confines of the borders of the state. I watched as friends forced to the periphery of society by their lifestyles and beliefs found themselves in dire straights. I became aware that deviance from the norm came with a high price. Decimated and demoralized, in some cases, dead, my family of friends came apart. The indifference of nature and man became an adversary with no face to blame. I survived. Others did not. Some like myself scattered away from the Illinois Valley to more hospitable climes. The people and places not commonly associated with the farm communities that dot the seas of corn became the inspiration and source material for my stories. I had spent two-thirds of my life in Chicago. I now live in Illinois.