Celtic cats

Who am I? Who wants to know? Why do you care? Well, since you're here, I may as well give you the tour.

I'm a writer. What's even more unusual is that I've been able to earn my living as a writer and sometimes it's a very good living. Of course, other times it's a famine, but that's typical of the scriptwriting trade. Feast and famine.

Did I set out to be a writer? Yes and no. I was born with the innate desire and talent to tell stories, but I was about 26 before the little light bulb went off in my head, the one that said, "You're a writer, stupid! Do something about it."

I grew up in the midwest, in Danville, Illinois, a small city or big town, depending on how you look at these things. From as early as I can remember, I've loved books. I love to read. I was especially attracted to visual sequential storytelling in the form of newspaper comic strips and comic books.

I recall a four-panel story I drew as a young child, when I could do nothing more than stick figures. In the four panels, I established the heroine, heroine is kidnapped by villain and tied up in cave, heroine escapes and runs into arms of man.

Note two important things: a) I've just described the plot of many a major motion picture or best-selling novel; and b) even then I was writing strong women as heroic characters...even if she was a stick figure.

I've had a lifelong love for comic books. I would ride my bicycle for miles and knew the location of every single spinner rack in town in order to track down the latest BATMAN or X-MEN. My parents forbade me to buy more comics at one point, but it didn't stop me. I'd smuggle them inside under my clothes, or shove them under the screen of my bedroom window. They finally gave up.

I still collect comics, but these days I tend to read the alternatives. LOVE & ROCKETS (Jaime and Berto Hernandez) was brilliant. I love the wonderful STRANGERS IN PARADISE (Terry Moore). Other favorites (new and old): NEXUS (Mike Baron, Dave Rude), USAGI YOJIMBO (Stan Sakai), CONCRETE (Paul Chadwick), A DISTANT SOIL (Colleen Doran), ELFQUEST (Wendy Pini), ASTRO CITY (Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson), MERIDIAN (Barbara Kesel)

I spent a lot of my childhood living in my private fantasy worlds, rambling through the fields and forests, running along the rivers and lakes, collecting rocks, and generally being a tomboy. I wanted to be Batman when I grew up. I read books on criminology, but never could work up an interest in gymnastics. I love ancient ruins and lost civilizations and read about archaeology. I love fairy tales and mythology and devoured those. Naturally, I loved horses and learned to ride.

As an adult, I learned to ride motorcycles, scuba dive and took a few flying lessons. I have a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do, a brown belt in Shotokan, and most recently have been studying Taijiquan and Shaolin Praying Mantis. I'm definitely not a girly-girl. The nice thing about being a writer is - you can put all this to work in the writing. Nothing goes to waste.

I discovered science fiction and fantasy with the works of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Clark, Harlan Ellison, L. Sprague de Camp, J.R.R. Tolkien. I was hooked. I was heavily influenced by the first-person, female protagonist novels of Mary Stewart (her three excellent Merlin novels are big favorites). By the time I was in high school, I'd created over a 100 female comic book characters. I also wrote and drew my own crude comics. By crude, I mean my art skills, ahem.

My mother was a frustrated artist. I had the barest modicum of artistic talent, enough for her to encourage. Unfortunately, this sent me down the wrong path for many years when I went into arts at the University of Illinois.

Around that time, I met Robert Kanes and moved to California with him. He came to L.A. to pursue Scientology. We got married and did Scientology together, though I have to admit I was unable to turn off my skepticism meter. I got divorced and quit Scientology at the same time. Rob is a dear, sweet man and we remain friends.

I had no idea what to do with myself when we first arrived in L.A. I had no skills or training. I quickly discovered that my artistic skills were utterly inadequate. Rather by accident, I found myself working in the insurance business, eventually becoming a Special Risk life insurance underwriter. What's that? It means people too sick or screwed up to get insurance anywhere else came to our company. I got to read medical reports all day. I became familiar with every variation of every medical condition in existence.

Call me slow, but I decided this was not what I wanted to do with my life. I finally realized I was a writer and needed to do something about it. I had a lifetime's filing cabinet full of folders, packed with things I meant to write "someday". "Someday" never comes. If you mean to do something, you need to do it now.

I managed to get a job as a production secretary for a TV production company, then became a script reader for several movie companies. During this time, I worked on writing scripts and making friends amongst writers.

The networking paid off. First, I sold a CONAN story to Roy Thomas for SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN. I got a job writing an animation script for THE FANTASTIC FOUR animation series. I made more sales, got an agent, and I was on my way. That's the shorthand version. I discuss it in a little more detail in the Writing FAQ. The rest you can glean from my Credits.

One night, at a gathering of comic book professionals, I met an Australian artist named Peter Ledger. We were wildly attracted from the minute we met, but he was on his way back to Oz via L.A. A year and half later, he returned. We met again. A month later, we were living together and a year after that we were married.

Peter was an amazing man. A gentleman barbarian, a man of vast talent, a man of "gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirths" (as Robert E. Howard described Conan). We had many adventurous and sometimes turbulent years together before he was killed in a car accident. I've written a biography and included many examples of his artwork in a special website. Please visit the Peter Ledger Memorial pages to learn more about him.

During those years, my career progressed. Peter and I did a number of comic book projects together. I wrote lots of animation and did development work on series. I did live-action shows, and development in that area. I particularly enjoy development work because I love creating whole new worlds.

By a total fluke, Peter and I ended up in Oakhurst, California to create a computer game for Sierra On-Line. He hated it and quit after the first game, but I've remained active in the field. I enjoy the challenge of the interactive media, the non-linear vs. linear demands of interactive writing. I've worked on PC adventures games, console games, and MMOGs (massively multi-player on-line games) and enjoyed all of them. I see great potential for MMOGs and hope to work on more of those.

I had two major deaths to cope with in a year's time. 25 Nov. 2993, my mother died after a long battle with cancer. 18 Nov. 1994 was Peter's death by car accident. I have my father and brother surviving. As a writer, I've always possessed that heightened sense of mortality, but these losses have made me keenly aware of how important it is to appreciate each day, to value friends and loved ones, to let people know I care about them.

As Peter loved to say, "Life is too short to drink bad wine."

To which I can only add the words of Oscar Wilde, "Life is too important to be taken seriously."

Oakhurst is the last major town on the way into Yosemite Park. Peter is buried in its small, historic cemetery.

After five years alone, about the time I had just about given up on the notion of having another relationship, I went to work at Yosemite Entertainment in Oakhurst to help write a Babylon 5 space combat simulator. I found myself in a small office working shoulder to shoulder with a tall hunk named Randy Littlejohn.

One thing led to another and we've been happily in love ever since. Living together was a major challenge, considering that Randy is highly allergic to cats. But we've managed to work it out with two cats in the house and the rest of the Horde living in my office in a separate building.

Having grown up in the corn field flatlands of the Midwest, I far prefer living in the mountains, but also need to be relatively close to L.A. for meetings. Randy and I have moved from one small mountain town to another and currently live about an hour's drive north of L.A. in the mountains.

So far, we've written a batch of animation scripts together, with other projects in the works. To learn more about the talented tall guy, visit Randy's webpages.

I am also known as a servant of Bast. This means I am owned by cats...lots of them, the Moggy Horde. I'm a willing body slave to the insane, furry little buggers. If you're a genuine moggophile, you will especially enjoy the Moggyblog, a blog of cat follies and foibles.

One of my other great pleasures in life is photography. Mainly, I'm concentrating on selling to the stock photo market. I have a great many samples of my work on my Photography pages.

If you would like to own some of my shows, scripts, games or books, please visit The Marx Mall.

I have written a book entitled WRITING FOR ANIMATION, COMICS AND GAMES encompassing my twenty-plus years of experience. It's a practical guide to the craft and business of these three visual forms of media.

Questions about writing will be answered in my Writing FAQ. Anything else is on a need-to-know basis. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

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Last update: May 2007