When I was 11 years old, one of my father’s co-workers gave me a copy of Lord of the Rings. When I was twelve years old, my mother got a Valentine’s Day poster that had the words ‘I love you’ in twelve different languages. Both events changed my life. The first gave me a lifelong love of fantasy. The second led to my getting a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago — which may not exactly constitute following in Tolkien’s footsteps, but certainly qualifies as trespassing on his turf.
When I am not writing scholarly articles and books for my day job (with titles like Grammar in Mind and Brain and Vocabulary Assessment to Support Instruction), I am reading fantasy and science fiction — both YA and adult. Call me a sucker for sophisticated reworkings of classic tales, like Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty, for traditional fantasy with a flair, like most of Rachel Neumeier’s books, or for practically anything that takes a good trope and gives it an original workout.
My favorite novels include Tanith Lee’s The Birthgrave, Meredith Ann Pierce’s The Darkangel, and C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, though I also cherish a love for quirky Victoriana and Edwardiana, such as William Morris’ The Story of the Glittering Plain and G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. If your tastes go to poetry, you might enjoy my hobby poetry site, Forgotten Ground Regained, dedicated to alliterative verse. If you want to read my scholarly articles, on cognitive linguistics, lexical semantics, automated essay evaluation, writing and English language arts assessment, and vocabulary development, check out my Researchgate page.
I am currently working on a YA fantasy with my friend and collaborator Kimbra Wilder Gish. Kimbra and I met online in a Tolkien text roleplaying game, and discovered we write well together. The rest (as they say) is history.