The Right Stuff, poem, Issue 38, March 15, 2017
Birthday? December 1, 1961
When did you start writing? Dr. Seuss was a major childhood influence. At age nine, inspired by such television show theme songs as "Branded," I attempted to write my first poem,"The Ballad of Van Keith." My eldest brother came along however, and because he kept laughing at a funny alternative rhyme he had thought of, ultimately persuaded me to shift my literary goals to humor.
When and what and where did you first get published? The summer after graduating from high school in Hereford, TX, I wrote a ten-minute, comic sketch to be used in interscholastic duet-acting competitions, and handed it off to the juniors in my drama class. The competition rules required that any works used be published, so they had someone do that for them in the local newspaper. No pay, of course. My talented schoolmates (one of whom rewrote the script) won their very first tournament using the piece, and by the end of that same year, teams from several schools had used it to qualify for State finals.
My first paid writing gig was as a U.S. Army Journalist.
What themes do you like to write about? Hope and hopelessness have come up a few times. Wizards and space farers seem to crop up the most often as subjects. But I love to tell stories of all kinds, and humor and adventure are my favorite treatments.
What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? Following Dr. Seuss, I graduated to Edgar Rice Burroughs (my parents owned his "Pellucidar" series), and then, later, to Rod Serling and Ray Bradbury. Skipping ahead a few decades, my tastes gradually broadened. Today, I automatically look for Jack Vance when I'm browsing used-bookstores, and I've read Patrick O'Brian's "Aubrey-Maturin" series three times. My fantasy novel-in progress is noticeably influenced by Rex Stout, Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse.
Following four years as a U.S. Army journalist, Shawn Klimek attended San Francisco State University to earn his BA in Creative Arts: Interdisciplinary. Despite these excellent credentials for bagging groceries, he somehow ended up as a Marketing Data Specialist. His wife, Sara, is a nurse in the U.S. Air Force, and they are stationed at Misawa AB, Japan. Fortunately, this assignment has blessed him with more time to focus on his writing. Visit him on Facebook at Shawn M Klimek Author.