My first contact with the Fire Department came in 1974, when I accidently set fire to my parents’ house, while trying to make french fries. I was seventeen that summer and it was the first time they went on vacation and left me alone. In the end my Mom was pretty happy with the new kitchen, and I was pretty happy that the fire hid the damage from the party I wasn’t supposed to have had. I was in my thirties before I finally came clean about that one.

That fall I headed to the University of Toronto, eventually graduating with a B.Sc. specialist in Biochemistry and a major in Astronomy on the side. U of T was also where I cut my teeth as a writer. I joined the infamous Toike Oike, an immoral, indecent and politically incorrect humor newspaper put out by the U of T Engineering Society. Yes, it was trash, but it was pretty damned funny trash, if you didn’t take yourself too seriously.

I spent the year after graduating trying to launch an acting career. In the end, despite the whisperings of the Muse, I decided that there was a lot to be said for eating on a regular basis.

In 1979 I landed a job on the production team at the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto. It was perfect. I was able to combine my love of science, writing and theatre. I was lucky enough to work with some very talented people, including composer Mychael Danna, who recently won an Oscar. In fact I gave Mychael his start in show business. Remember that Mychael? Huh? Just in case you’re looking for a great book for your next movie…

So how did I end up becoming a firefighter? It’s a long story but it boils down to the fact that I wanted to make some changes in my life. Among them was a desire to focus more on my writing. I saw an ad for the Fire Department in the paper and applied more or less on a whim. It meant a salary cut, but I would still be able to pay my bills, and though the fire department shifts were long, getting away from the 9 to 5 would leave me more spare time to write.

I joined the Fire Department on January 9th, 1989. Little did I know that firefighting itself would become something I love.  Writing gradually faded into the background, while life continued on. (See ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’).

There have been highs and lows over the years, triumphs, tragedies and adventures. The highlight was meeting my wife Liz while training as a HazMat specialist. She was one of the civilian instructors and I figured, there’s more than one way to pass a course.

Liz and I moved to an old family cottage in 2008. My grandfather built the original log cabin almost a hundred years ago. It’s is still part of the house Liz and I live in, about an hour outside of Ottawa, Canada. We share our little slice of heaven with Charlie, a lab/border collie cross, and the feline duo, Kasey and Pawvel.

Maybe it was the peace and tranquility. Maybe it was simply the accumulation of age and experience. There had been false starts before, but in 2009, I determined to once again face the terror of the blank page. The result is The Spark. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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