All my life I’ve told stories. I told them to myself as a kid, whether I was creating complicated lives for my action figures or running around my backyard pretending I played for the Yankees. I fell in love with stories and their power from my parents. From my father and his mantra to never let a fact get in the way of a good story, and my mother, with her love of books and films that has so shaped my life.
Later I would begin to tell stories and bask in the glow that comes with a laugh or a nod of acknowledgment. Eventually, my stories would have costs. I told myself many stories about my alcoholism. I told myself that I didn’t need to write that paper or attend that class. That I didn’t need to plan for the future or look myself in the mirror. I told myself I was fine, even as I knew I wasn’t.
But again, it was stories that helped me to rise out of that ditch and get sober. Stories of a bright future. Stories that at times felt like the same lies I’d told myself about my drinking. Just as impossible and illogical. Just as hard to believe. Still, I told myself those stories, and before long they began to materialize. I finished my degree, moved in with the love of my life, learned to cook, repaired relationships I’d thought broken beyond repair, and began to think seriously about what I wanted to do with my life.
In the end, there was only one thing to do. The thing I’d always dreamed of doing. The thing I used to lie about and pretend I was already working on when I wasn’t. I would write. It started slowly with work that was far from my best but, if I’m being kind to myself, showed promise. I hung on to that promise and told myself that if I could quit drinking, I could figure out writing. I persevered, rejecting the rejection, and moving forward with an unrelenting dedication that had been responsible for all the successes in my life.
Since then, I have had stories published by Sequoia Speaks, Quagmire Literary Magazine, and The Write Launch. More importantly, I have found that I can’t live without my writing. I write because I’m compelled to. I write because I need to tell stories, always have, always will.
I began work on A Campus on Fire in the aftermath of two events. One was the January 6th capital riots, which left me staring, speechless, at my television. The other, a story about my alma mater, Montclair State University, and a situation they were dealing with regarding bigoted, far-right protestors clashing with students. I was struck, not for the first time, by the radicalization that pervades this nation. I wanted to write about post-truth and found that a campus was an ideal place for that discussion. From those events and my desperate need to tell stories, a novel was born.
I live in New Jersey with my partner, the center of my universe, Cassie, and our cat, Toffee. Without Cassie I would never be where I am. She is a constant source of love and support. She was there to save me from my alcoholism, there to push me to return to school, there to encourage me to write, and there to tell me I was a good person even when I wasn’t. All the good things in my life trace back to her.
My website is patrickrodowd.com and my Twitter handle is @Patrick_R_ODowd. I am currently working a second novel. It’s historical fiction about Elvis Presley when, for his military service, he was stationed in Germany. I hope that you’ll be able to read that one soon.