When I was 16, my buddy’s sister chucked a tattered copy of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas at my head. “Read it,” she suggested. So I did. By the end of page three everything I’d been taught about writing, sentence structure, story telling and, even, punctuation had been carjacked by the book’s psychotropic-fueled author.
Amazing, I thought. A man can really get paid to do this sort of thing? Years later while casting about for a college major after realizing that nothing short of a full brain transplant would enable me to graduate with an electrical engineering degree from Auburn University, I kept thinking about that damn book and soon made my way to Boulder, Colo., to study journalism at the University of Colorado.
My first job after being handed my diploma was as a copy editor at “Soldier of Fortune,” a cheery lifestyle magazine covering the international mercenary set and their obsession with toppling governments, blowing things up, shooting despots, etc. From there, I ended up in Seattle and spent several years sloshing through its rain-drenched streets, working for a chain of community newspapers and freelancing for various publications, including “Outside” and the “Los Angeles Times.”
For the past two decades I’ve worked as a staff writer and reporter at America’s most widely-read magazine – “PEOPLE.” In the course of my job, I’ve been buried by an avalanche, eaten my fill of walrus- and seal-based food products with Eskimo hunters on a sinking island near Siberia, had an occasional firearm pulled on me, and rubbed shoulders with the best and the absolute worst that humanity has to offer. I’ve written about some of pop culture’s biggest, most-tragic and most-talked-about stories and have interviewed a staggering assortment of A-list celebrities, common folk, inspiring do-gooders, thugs and even the occasional heroic family pet. Along the way, I’ve also written three non-fiction books that have been translated into German, Dutch, Japanese, Swedish, Chinese and Hungarian. My writing and reporting has earned me a Hearst Fellowship and over a dozen national and regional journalism awards.