Following my seminary education, I was a minister in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for ten years, serving parishes in rural North Carolina and in Pensacola, Florida. Realizing that the parish ministry was not for me, I changed careers and earned the Ph.D. in English from Louisiana State University in 1988. My special field of study was African American literature, with a dissertation on African American men’s autobiographies. I have written about the works of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X, as well as the novels of Toni Morrison and the poetry of Phillis Wheatley.
Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, hired me in 1989. I have worked there ever since, and am currently Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Literature and Philosophy. Besides teaching in my special field of African American literature, I have taught courses the Bible as Literature, world literature, and American literature. I have also taught a course titled “American Literature and Opera,” based upon research I did at Princeton University in 2004, while there participating in a National Endowment for the Arts summer seminar.
Although reading and writing have always been important to me, I never set out to be a novelist. Many years ago, however, as I was driving home from work, the ideas for three novels came to my mind. With the encouragement of my wife, I began writing, although I had never had a course in creative writing. My first three novels, very much apprentice work, gave me the opportunity to learn my craft. They remain unpublished, and if I were to reread them, I could probably see why! Despite numerous rejections, I kept writing, and wrote The Bicycle Man in 1998 as a Christmas gift for my wife, Eileen. In October, 2005, Clarion Books published The Bicycle Man. It won the 2006 New Author’s Award from the International Reading Association for a middle grades book. Clarion published my second novel, Caleb’s Wars, in the fall of 2011. My third novel, Cy in Chains, based upon the use of pre-adolescent and adolescent black boys for chain gang labor in the post-Civil War South has been release December 2013.
In February, 2006, I was St. John Flynn’s guest on Cover to Cover, Georgia Public Radio’s monthly program featuring Georgia authors.
I have been married to Eileen, an artist, for thirty-nine years. We have four children, two grandsons, and two granddaughters.
I am passionately fond of playing the piano, classical music, and opera. I love to read, garden, and cook. Recently, I have been learning to shoot and have discovered I have a pretty good eye!