A friend of mine years ago asked me why I don’t write pleasant stories about happy people enjoying life. I don’t know how to answer that question. I write what moves me, all of it drawn from memories. As readers of this blog have long since discovered, my life has been anything but wine and roses. It started with childhood poverty, working my way through college and grad school, and bouts with exhaustion that landed me in the hospital. My thirteen years in and out of Vietnam and living through the fall of Saigon cursed me with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). My later adventures, still classified, were equally brutal. Then, to help me cope with my unbearable memories, I volunteered to work with AIDS patients, the homeless, and the dying in a hospice. Death was a fact of life.
Everything I write is based on remembered events. My novel The Trion Syndrome is about a man coping with PTSI. No-Accounts tells the story of a straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS. Last of the Annamese relates what happened during the fall of Saigon. And the last story in Coming to Terms (my short story collection due for publication this month), “Snow and Ashes,” describes caring for a dying man.
Sage advice given to writers always begins with “write what you know.” My writing reflects the life I have lived. That is what I know.