I was born in Massena, New York, upstate. Dropped out of high school in Maryville, Tennessee. Graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in creative writing in 1982. Enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1986. Completed my master's degree in creative writing from Purdue University in 1989 and took an Air Force commission the same year.
I spent most of my military career as a photojournalist and public affairs officer under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” directive that kept gay servicemembers in the closet. I am a veteran of four wars, including tours of duty for Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom. I retired after twenty-four years of active-duty and Reserve service, having attained the rank of lieutenant colonel and picked up a number of accolades in the process.
In between, I earned a Ph.D. in fine arts from Ohio University (just because I wanted you to call me "doctor"). In addition to my military service, I have at various times been a college professor, classical-music radio host, bookkeeper, bartender, and window-shade salesman.
I've been writing fiction since my teens -- short stories, mostly. I took a long time to find my author's voice ... early on, I liked William Faulkner and James Joyce a little too much, which made for some cryptic (and obviously derivative) copy, but eventually I arrived at a more plainspoken and direct manner of expression.
I used to think I could never sustain a narrative long enough to complete a novel. During preparation for deployment to Afghanistan in 2003, I started working on a short story about a young Air Force lieutenant who falls inconveniently in love with his boss, a brigadier general. That story grew to 400-plus pages. A dozen years later, under the title of RANK, it has become my first novel, recently published by Bold Strokes Books, a small press out of New York.
I've moved around quite a bit but have settled happily in Seattle with my handsome spouse and our dog Mark Twain.
My middle name, incidentally, is from Faulkner -- Compson is the doomed, damned family narrating THE SOUND AND THE FURY.