In the seventies and eighty’s I was a latchkey kid. My father was part owner of a pest control company- JRs Pest Control. His partner was Jimmy Robinson. This was during the time of the show Dallas. It was an urban cowboy, corrupt rich people drama on TV. In one of the seasons, there was a cliff hanger where JR, one of the main characters was shot, and fans asked the question, “Who Shot JR?”

My dad and JR thought it would be cool to capitalize on the cult following of the show, and branded their bug-killing business to it.  On top of the trucks, they used was a four-foot termite with a cowboy hat and guns in its two front hands. The exterminators had holsters for their spray guns to use in people’s homes. Embarrassment does not begin to describe my life. Everywhere my dad took me there was the giant bug.

When I turned 16, I took my driving test in that truck. It was a stick shift in the steering column. I dare any teenager today to figure out how to drive that. For whatever reason, the truck ran on propane instead of regular gas. This meant there was a giant propane tank in the back of the pickup. So there I was- in my prime teenage years driving this monster truck around. Man did I digress!

My mom worked for Eckerd Drugs in their corporate headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. Eckerd was a big drugstore chain that was eventually bought out around the time my mother retired by JC Penney. (Yes, Penneys they were in the drugstore business for a while).

This meant from an early age, I was a latchkey kid. I took the bus home and locked the door until my parents got home around Five O’clock. At least that’s the theory. It gets really boring, really fast. I rode my bike everywhere, and my favorite place was the local library- the Largo Library. It was about five miles from my house, but I went every day, especially during the summers. I would spend hours and hours reading everything I could. My favorites were Tolkien, Bradberry, King, and many other Scifi and Fantasy authors. When I finished reading all the books I wanted in the kid’s section I went to the adult side. They had carousels full of pulp fiction titles, that I devoured.

I don’t remember how old I was when my mother brought home a collection of used books- they were classic tales that were illustrated.

These two- Arabian Nights and Treasure Island were my favorites, and Max and the Spice Thieves were heavily influenced by these tales.

My son Max was around four when we noticed he was getting hives, although we thought they were what he termed, Crumble Bees. To him, they were microscopic bees that stung you even though they were too tiny to see. As the hives got worse, we had to take many trips to the hospitals. The hives became more dangerous and began to affect his breathing.  During these trips, I wanted to write- both for him and for me. So I made him the hero of his own story, and I wrote a different chapter every night. I remembered those days in which I wanted to escape my world as a boy, and thought about Long John Silver and of Aladdin. And thus began the Secrets of the Twilight Djinn.