In real life, I'm a professional nerd who's been engaged in computer research for upwards of thirty years. Basically, what that means is that they've been paying me to have fun solving puzzles—not a bad deal.
So, coming from a highly technical background, I tend to approach things as technical problems. Problem: Write a book that's fun to read. Solution: Postulate the existence of some people who readers can like and empathise with, put those people in unusual situations, and watch how they deal with those situations.
I really do get to like the characters in my books. Take Virginia Dare from Virginia for example. She's a nice girl, even if she's a bit hard to understand at times because she speaks a kind of English that hasn't been spoken since Shakespeare's time. But it hasn't been all that long since her family was murdered, her life destroyed, and, on top of all that, this nice seventeenth-century girl suddenly finds herself in the twenty-first century because some guy she doesn't even know was playing with a time machine he shouldn't have been playing with. Can you blame her if she just loses it once in a while and starts smashing the furniture?
Or take Charity Alden from The Ghost of Charity Alden. Another nice girl. Dead since George Washington's time, but still pretty nice. She's been coping okay for centuries with the boredom and loneliness of being dead and hasn't even noticed much how bored and lonely she is until she meets this really cute guy... The only problem is he's still alive. Awkward. And it gets even more awkward when something that's even deader than Charity starts destroying the town where she's lived—or whatever—for all of her two hundred and thirty years.
So I hope you'll get to know Virginia and Charity, and Evan and Eric, and Martha (who died when she was five and likes to tell people about the coffin with the gold handles she was buried in). I think you'll come to like them as much as I do.
When I'm not tinkering computers, I'm generally reading something, a habit I've had since I was a kid. (At the age of ten or so, I read the entirety of Richards Cyclopedia, all dozen volumes or so of it…) Much of my reading is of the history of Western civilisation, and that's a couple thousand years of truly fabulous story plots I may get around to mining someday. (A good computer programming language manual can be a pleasant diversion too, but programming manuals are a little short on decent story material.) On the lighter side, my daughter (the real-life Alison whose identity I stole for Virginia) introduced me to the Harry Potter books—mostly, when she was younger, by never being seen without one of them for months on end—but I have to confess that scenes like the one where Draco Malfoy gets turned into a ferret bother me. Violation of the conservation of mass, and all that.
Other than all that, I live in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina (not far from Hillsborough, where Virginia is set—there's reasonable speculation that some members of the Lost Colony, possibly including Virginia Dare herself, if she survived infancy, wound up in, or at least passed through, the Hillsborough area). As a kid, I lived in Lexington, Virginia, where The Ghost of Charity Alden and Dia are set and, while in my teens, I lived for a while in Hawaii, where Synthia is set. (I may have to move again soon just to get a new locale for another book…)
By the way, the painting you can see a bit of behind me in the photo above is called Cockfight at Waianae by John Chin Young. I bought it many years ago at the Honolulu Zoo fence that makes an appearance in Synthia. Here's the whole thing:
Also mentioned in Synthia is a "colorful, abstracty," painting of "fish in a big public aquarium in Honolulu." It's actually called Carp, and is actually of a water sculpture full of carp at the Ala Moana shopping centre in Honolulu. I bought it at a showing at the Pearl City Tavern, which also shows up a few times in Synthia.
Feel free to email me.