I was born in Saginaw, Michigan. I enjoy saying this because it’s a true fact and it’s the opening line from a great country song by Lefty Frizzell called “Saginaw, Michigan.” I went on to live in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Osaka (Japan), Cincinnati, Louisville, and Manhattan (Kansas) – finally ending up back in my home state in the beautiful town of Mount Pleasant.
When I was a boy I wanted to be a Hollywood stuntman. I thought it would be super cool to jump off buildings and have chairs smashed on my back and get tossed through fake glass windows. I took any available opportunity to perform stunts (leaping over TV trays from the sofa, hurdling campfires barefoot, throwing darts straight into the air and stepping aside at the last moment to dodge them before they impaled me). I injured myself once in a while and was taken to the hospital a few too many times: the nurses took me aside one day and questioned me intensely about how I’d gotten the injuries, suspecting abuse. My poor parents.
At age 7, I saw a movie on TV called Who is Killing the Stuntmen? in which a bunch of stuntmen have their stunts sabotaged by a madman. One guy ends up in a vegetative state because his air cushion is improperly inflated when he leaps from a tall building. I was so spooked that I changed career plans.
I was an avid reader my whole life, but it was the Jack London story “To Build a Fire” that made me understand (in 7th grade) how entertaining, moving, exciting, and profound a piece of fiction could be. In high school I fell in love with Dostoevsky, Camus, Kafka, Poe, Shirley Jackson, and more. My friend and I used to write ridiculous, funny stories in notebooks and exchange them when we passed each other in the hallway between classes.
I didn’t write “seriously” until age 25 when I returned to college (Western Michigan University). I’d taken a few years off, spending nearly a decade playing in bands in Kalamazoo. At WMU, I took two creative writing classes to complete my BA and was encouraged by professors William Olsen and Jaimy Gordon to apply to their MFA program. It changed my life. I found a new purpose and direction. After graduation, my wife and I lived in Japan for a year, teaching English, and later I attended the University of Cincinnati and earned my PhD in English.
Some random trivia about me: I can juggle four objects. I’m mostly ambidextrous. I play guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, drums, and piano. I’m currently in a band with two other creative writing professors called Daryl and the Beans (feel free to look us up; all proceeds go to fund a Creative Writing Award at CMU). I enjoy spicy foods, horror movies, and blurry videos of Sasquatches and UFOs. People used to swear that I look just like actor Gary Sinise. Maybe it’s true? I don’t really see it, but I never argue about it.
To date I’ve been fortunate to publish three story collections and three novels and work as a Professor of English-Creative Writing at Central Michigan University. Let Gravity Seize the Dead is my seventh book. I’m married to a lovely Children’s Librarian and have two sons who try to be funnier than me but always fail. We have a tuxedo cat named Ham. Find me at www.darrindoyle.com