“My Name is Priscilla” appeared in Spinetingler in April, 2010. A second story, “Plastic Soldiers” was featured in the anthology Speedloader (Snubnose Press, 2011). Dave is a member of the Horror Writers Association. He’s currently working on a new techno-thriller novel The Oasis at the Bottom of the Sea. When not writing, Dave loves speeding along country roads in his Miata, or hiking the trails at Unity Village, Missouri.
Prior to becoming a writer, Dave worked as a software developer and project manager for the Federal Aviation Administration. Before that, he worked for General Public Utilities at the Three Mile Island nuclear station (NO, he did NOT cause the accident… but he knows who did.)
Before that, he served in the United States Navy as a nuclear reactor operator, and was stationed aboard the ballistic missile submarine Sam Houston.
Dave resides in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
Why I Write
Second grade students fell into three groups: a few smart kids, a lot of average kids, and my group—the three slowest learners. I struggled to understand numbers, writing, and especially reading. I recall the burn of embarrassment at having to read out loud, those long awkward pauses between each syllable as I tried desperately to remember what sound went with each squiggle on the page.
One day midway through the year, Mrs. Carpenter called on me to read. But this time as I stared at the page, magic happened. The squiggles became words and they spoke silently inside my head. Dumbstruck, enthralled, I watched the book morph into something more. The teacher called my name again, patiently prompting me to speak.
I read the first sentence. Smoothly, without hesitation, because it now made sense. It had meaning. I read the next sentence. And the next. The whole paragraph. The whole page.
I looked up and saw wonder on her face. I wanted to laugh, but started to cry.
I went from the slowest group to the fastest. Words unlocked everything. I got a library card and read as much as fast as possible. Books let me escape into worlds fun and fair. Books were never too tired for adventure, they never criticized when I was slow to grasp a new idea. Mythic heroes taught me honor and morality. The World Book Encyclopedia tutored me in facts. My grades went from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’s, and stayed there throughout high school and college.
Eventually, I tried writing. Essays. Articles. Short Stories. Poetry. The magic worked in reverse, transferring ideas into words. Writing was exhilarating, even addictive, but also frustrating. I wanted to create works so pure that words disappear, leaving only story. My idols Frank Herbert, Michael Crichton, and Dean Koontz have done it. But my every effort failed to reach their level of subtlety, realism, and power. Instead of crisp Rembrandts, my stories were fuzzy Monets. I needed help.
I began attending workshops and learned that writing is a craft that can be mastered. Study and practice sharpened words into scalpels. Loose plot threads wove into vivid tapestries. I now attend workshops every year, critique groups every month, and write something every day. Each piece calls forth the same magic that unlocked the mind of a seven-year-old boy more than half a century ago.
Magic. Wonder. It’s why I write. Mostly. But I also write in defiance of fear.
The most terrifying story I’ve ever read is Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes. Its message is that nothing very good lasts for long. One day by stroke, Alzheimer’s, or accident, the magic might go away. Then I’ll look at the squiggles on a page and remember once upon a time they were something more. Until that happens, I will never stop writing.