I had my first short story published when I was 10, in The Sentinel (a newspaper for horse people), as part of their Christmas competition.
When I was in my early 20s, I wrote a song for a local heavy metal band, that they recorded for an album.
I used to work at Williams Bally/Midway, where I wrote, directed and shot the promotional videos for INDIANA JONES AND THE PINBALL ADVENTURE and STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION PINBALL GAME. I have the originals in storage, but I was delighted and surprised to learn that a fan of the pinball games posted them on YouTube. (Thank you, Captain Pinball!)
If you want to check them out, here are the links:
I’ve also written episodes of GENERAL HOSPITAL and GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT.
If you want to see my NIGHT SHIFT episode (LOVE/HATE), you can see it in 5 parts on YouTube, or you can download it from iTunes. Unfortunately, the second season of the series has never been released on DVD.
(So, if you’re a fan, please converge on ABC and demand Season Two to complete your DVD collection. Unless the fans drive the demand for it, I don’t think it’ll ever be released.)
My GENERAL HOSPITAL episodes aired during the Cesar Faison era, when Cesar kidnapped Felicia and Luke went to rescue her.
While I was a student at Northwestern, I co-founded Chicago Screenwriters Network with Ed Bernero (who went on to create Criminal Minds) and Ken Mader.
After I moved to Los Angeles, I was a WGA Intern on Star Trek: Voyager. I had the opportunity to go on the set and stand on the Starship Enterprise. There's actually an area where you forget you're on a set because all around you, all you see is starship. The next set, that was back-to-back with the deck, was the Borg rejuvenation chamber.
J.G. Hertzler (General Martok, the one-eyed Klingon) and I were writing partners while we were at UCLA together, in their Professional Writing Program. And while we were working on an assignment at Burbank Airport, who should show up but J.G.'s friend and coworker--Patrick Stewart!
Because of my work with Star Trek and daytime TV, I became part of a Writers In Space program. My DNA is currently residing on the International Space Station (until they have a yard sale, at least--or would that be a space sale?), just in case we ever need to clone the human race. Look out, world. Yes, along with Olympic athletes, brilliant scientists and famous pundits and actors, the future will be peopled with writing nerds, like me.
SOMEBODY TELL AUNT TILLIE SHE’S DEAD is my first novel. It’s full of Witchcraft, Santeria, Ifa, Voudoun and it has a sense of humor. If Heather Graham and Janet Evanovich had a bastard love child, it would be SOMEBODY TELL AUNT TILLIE SHE’S DEAD.
I'm the voices of all the female warriors on the games MORTAL KOMBAT II and III. The Mortal Kombat guys used to share a studio with me at Williams Bally/Midway.
When I moved to L.A., I threw a big pool party, and two (real) Klingons showed up (they had been booted out of a local sports bar for being rowdy). They started singing the Klingon National Anthem, (in Klingon), while simultaneously saving a tipsy Rolling Stone reporter (who was in the middle of falling into the pool), plucking her out of the sky, mid-fall. It was a very graceful 1-2 hand-off and not a drop of water was dislodged.
I used to act and direct (mostly in theater) but I was also a featured extra in a Sprint commercial and an extra on a Saban kid's TV show. Both experiences were comedically miserable and convinced me never to do extra work again.
I won two tickets to the premiere of Detroit Rock City (my first and, so far, only premiere!) and afterwards, Kiss held a private concert for all of us. (I was so close to the stage, Gene Simmons was sweating on me!). Afterwards, my friend and I scaled a fence and crashed the uber-private after-party, where Rob Zombie, the kids from That 70's Show, and a Kiss tribute band were hanging out. And somehow, tribute-Ace wound up losing his limo and I chauffeured him home in my tiny VW Bug. (He was so tall with the boots on, he was in the back seat, literally hanging out both sides of my convertible!)
During high school and in my early twenties, I used to play first-chair cello in a couple of orchestras. I named my cello Edwin and took him everywhere with me. No, I'm not strange. Why do you ask?
When I was crewing Sweeny Todd in high school, we co-opted my mom's antique dining room furniture when she wasn't home, but being kids, we didn't have a car. We carried the furniture for a mile (downhill thankfully), stopping to set it down and rest on every corner. It looked like we were throwing an outdoor tea party.
My mom and godmother taught me to read Greek coffee grounds when I was a child. I can also read tarot cards.
I grew up in a haunted duplex. I not only believe in ghosts, I've occasionally seen them!
When I was a little kid, I was playing with the girl upstairs and we prank-called 9-1-1. When they asked what the emergency was, I panicked and reported a fire, in detail--two months before that exact same fire actually happened.
I accidentally brought my Dobe back from the dead once--much to the surprise and shock of the vet techs in the room. But that had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with how incredibly loyal Dobes are. (Look for that to pop up in a future story).
One evening, when I was talking to the owner of the real-life store that The Crooked Pantry is based on, a girl walked up to us, something clearly on her mind. When I stopped to see what she wanted, she vanished. I asked around and it turned out that a number of store employees had been seeing the same ghost.
My most memorable non-writing jobs have been...
Mom. Totally tops the list, hands down. Best job ever. I had no idea I'd enjoy it so much. My only regret is not having more kids.
Working for a merchandising company that created move-related swag. It was crazy fun. Ozzy Osbourne was one of our clients, and while I never saw him, I saw Sharon and I helped with their Christmas card photo of the dogs that year. But most of all, it was because all the employees were quirky as hell and we were all a pretty tight-knit crew.
Williams Bally Midway. I got paid to play pinball, for hours on end. What's not to love?
Saturday assistant to Kup. It was fun, he was a super-nice guy, and I was able to meet some of my favorite celebrities, like John Astin and Garry Marshall.
Acting in murder mysteries, during boat cruises on Lake Michigan. One minute you'd be talking to someone on the port side of the boat, the next minute, a wave would hit and you'd suddenly be sitting on someone's lap on the starboard side of the boat. But it was all fun.
Being hired to be a 1920s flapper for a huge party on Navy Pier, in Chicago. If I find the picture of that night, I'll post it.