I am struck again by how much of my writing deals with fathers and sons. Three of my novels, The Trion Syndrome, Last of the Annamese, and Secretocracy, tell of the relationship between a man and his son. So many of my short stories are about filial ties. Readers might well ask: why the preoccupation?
I’m not very good at self-psychoanalysis, but one fact about my life stands out: I had a terrible father. Through most of my childhood, he was in prison. When I was in college, he forged checks against my bank account. He later died in a bar brawl. Because my mother was an alcoholic, I became self-reliant at age six. The ability to depend on myself has seen me through many trials in my life.
I have a son, now long since a grown man with a son of his own. My love for him knows no bounds. I promised myself as a young man that if I ever had children, I’d learn by my father’s example and nurture them with love and attention. My four children are all now thriving adults. I believe I served them well.
“Wolf Rock” is the story of a camping trip for a father, Charlie, and his two adult sons, Steve, the strong one, and Boyd, the beautiful one. Steve needs no help or guidance. Boyd insists on being an artist at the cost of his marriage and his credit rating. He asks his father once again to bail him out.
An aspect of the story is Charlie’s sensitivity to music. Blessed with perfect pitch, sounds come to him in musical form. Charlie’s musicality is based on my own. I lack perfect pitch, but like Charlie, I hear music in the sounds around me. I tried to become a musician, even took a BA in music, but finally gave in to my vocation, writing.
So Charlie is, in many respects, me in disguise.