When I was a little boy living in Sandusky, Ohio I was scared to death of alligators. I used to imagine that the gators were under and around my bed, waiting for me to make a wrong move. Maybe I watched too many Tarzan or Jungle Larry movies. But that fear must have been a premonition. My parents first moved our family, all twelve of us kids to Bay City, Michigan then to Maitland, Florida. Our stay in Maitland was short-lived and we ended up in rural Zellwood, Florida, a half hour north of Orlando and pretty much in the Deep South. Now my fear of alligators turned to fascination. In junior high and high school, my friends and I used to swim and canoe at Wekiva Springs State Park. The lake beyond the springs had a number of good sized alligators. As we swam in the lake the gators kept a healthy distance. Iím not sure Iíd swim with the gators now that Iím older.
Growing up in Zellwood had its advantages for a budding writer from north of the Mason Dixon line. I met so many different characters in my junior high and high school years. Many of their personality traits have made their way into some of my fictional characters. Itís been a great education having lived in the north and the south, particularly in the rural south where feelings about the War Between the States run strong. The war may be over but the scars remain for some.
I graduated from Apopka Memorial High School and worked in the indoor foliage business. I started my own nursery business while in high school and also worked for others in the nursery business. It was hard work in very hot, humid conditions, working with fungicides, pesticides, and other Ďcides, some of which are now banned. We used to handle Mirex, the fire ant poison (which was banned by the EPA), with our bare hands. Iím still here so it must not have been that bad.
My travels continued after my stint in the south. After selling the nursery business I moved back to Sandusky, Ohio and started working in retail stores. It was at the May Company (now Macyís) that I met my wife, Debbie. After realizing that I had little future in retail, I joined the US Navy in the Nuclear Power Program, stationed on the USS John Adams in Charleston, South Carolina. I again encountered a mix of the south and the north. The locals in Charleston were a great mix of personalities, while my shipmates were an odd mix of intellectuals and grunt workers, all with their own personality traits. Again this is great fodder for the budding writer. It was while living in Goose Creek, South Carolina that Debbie and I were married.
After an eight year stint in the Navy, I again returned to Sandusky and started my civilian career at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. I work in the Information Technology Department.
The political climate in Sandusky is always charged with small city politics. In 1993, I ran for the City Commission and was elected to a four year term. My time on the commission was charged with drama as we had a new city manager who ruffled the feathers of County Commissioners and nearby Township Trustees. During my tenure, I worked with corporate CEOs, city, county, and state officials, and citizens with all sorts of agendas. There was never a dull moment. My one claim to fame was being satirized by our local cartoonist in the Sandusky Register over a comment that I made regarding our sewage treatment plant.
I only did the single term on the Commission and opted to start my writing career. I didnít get far into the project when my wife and I decided to build a house. We did the general contracting, carpentry, electric and plumbing, floor tile and roofing. It was a real adventure. Our marriage actually survived the stress and strain of the adventure.
Debbie and I have two children. We also have two cats, Jasmine and Butters. Our son has a Bull Terrier named Capone and our daughter has a cat named Grady. I have eleven brothers and sisters. Debbie has a brother and a sister. We have a load of nieces and nephews. They are concentrated in Florida and Ohio, though a few are in other states.
I started writing my first novel about the McKinney brothers in the early 1990s. I finally finished A Lifetime of Vengeance in 2005. It took over twelve years to get the first half finished. It took about six months to finish the second half. My second and third novels, A Lifetime of Deception and A Lifetime of Exposure were each written in about twelve months. I guess thereís something to those Idiot Guides. The fourth McKinney Brothers novel, tentatively titled A Lifetime of Terror is in progress. I know youíre going to enjoy the adventures of the McKinney brothers.
Pete PJ Grondin