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I was born and raised in my grandparents' home, five miles north of the setting I chose for Abiding Darkness. That little cotton country town is within a rifle shot of two rivers, a bayou, a double handful of lakes, and endless acres of woods. Add that backdrop to a culture that offered an umbrella of protection for children while allowing boys to roam the countryside with firearms and fishing poles, and you come up with an environment that would provoke the envy of Tom Sawyer. In those surroundings, millions of day-by-day adventures linked themselves to become my boyhood.

When I was eight years old, I saw Flying Tigers with John Wayne and knew I wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from Mississippi State, I flew six years in the Air Force then twenty-nine years for a major airline. My career in the cockpit was nothing less than a thirty-five-year answer to a young boy’s unspoken prayer. And now I get to write . . .

Writing has transformed my life—mostly for the better, but my schedule has been a little crunched for the last four years. In one sense, I look forward to the day when I will be able to squeeze in time for banjo lessons and golf. On the other hand, I've never had a hobby that came within a long mile of generating the kind of pleasure I derive from crafting a good scene in one of my books.

My wife and I started to Mrs. Smith's kindergarten together and graduated from high school with nineteen other kids. With college, careers, and forty some-odd years of marriage behind us, we find ourselves in Texas—about twenty miles south of the Red River. Most people would describe our lives as boring and colorless—I spend the biggest part of my time writing; she's immersed in leading a comprehensive, women's Bible study. We like greasy hamburgers and Dr. Peppers, most species of warm-blooded creatures (the kind that don't normally bite), and spending July in the mountains.