I was a smart kid growing up. Tested well, got the highest grades, stayed at the top of my class, enrolled in whatever extra nerd programs were on offer. Nobody ever suggested to me that I might enjoy a trade.
Eventually, I picked up a series of trades. Cooking professionally, farming, sailing, walling, blacksmithing, fork-lift operating... A few have stuck. (Most recently, writing!) But before that, I was on track to be some sort of curator-professor hybrid in the world of Folklore and American Studies. Eventually, I met some people who in short order would change my life forever. A blacksmith and a dry-stone waller, to be exact, and then a few others who taught me not only how to make, but how to be. I can't say I never looked back after I first ran off to Wales. I did, sometimes with lots of tears and confusion, but I kept going. I knew pretty quickly that in addition to thinking critically, as I had been honing myself to do, I also needed to work with my hands to feel like a whole person, by which I mean "not to lose my mind."
Some nine years after first meeting my blacksmith and my dry-stone waller, I published a book about the years that followed and all the changes that came with them. That's how we got Between Stone and Sky.
I'm a compulsive writer, you see. Never could stop myself. Blogs, letters, journals, emails, texts. I write to process... And I write not to forget. I've had some pretty extraordinary moments in my time. My luck is something I can't even begin to explain to you. I have extensive notes about just how lucky I am.
My path has also been graced by a lot of brilliant, amazing, generous people... They and the scenery and the luck are the main things I haven't wanted to forget.
There's one book out there already. Between Stone and Sky was released by Constable in the UK in May 2018. I hope there are more titles to come. Keep up with me here as I continue to bump my way along in life... walls, books, speaking engagements... who knows?
The nuts and bolts: I was born into a very nice lower-middle-class family in the suburbs of Greenville, South Carolina in the early 1980s. (Call me Millennial if you must, as one reviewer did--in addition to "scatty"--but I actually feel I was born about 50 years old.) I went to public schools of the American variety, from kindergarten all the way to grad school. (If you're reading this because you need to name some schools, that last one is the University of North Carolina.)
Some fun facts: I played a sousaphone in the high school marching band before becoming the drum major my senior year. I was the valedictorian of my high school class, and I was voted Most Likely to Succeed, though I don't think this is quite what they had in mind. I was so shy as a child that when adults I didn't know very well tried to talk to me, I hopped like a bunny rabbit and then hid behind my mother's legs. (I still feel that way, but somehow I manage to seem both articulate and charismatic when on stage.) I can't decide if I would rather sing like Stevie Nicks, Aretha Franklin, or Sam Cooke. My secret fantasy job? Florist. Or wine importer.