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Me Clay

This is My Story

I was born in Carbondale, IL, and these days I live in the Central Illinois. When I was a boy, my absolute favorite place (after Disney World) was the local library, and I scoured the shelves every day I could, finding whole new worlds to get lost in. I eventually gravitated towards the stories of Poe and Lovecraft, and I was mesmerized by the way they could take the world around them and overlay it with shadows, both the literal kind as well as those of the mind, and I marveled at their process of creating a new in-between place that was half real, half imagination.

Being a kid I wondered if maybe, just maybe, parts of what they were writing was true, and I started to realize the hidden power of storytelling to change the way you see the world around you.

As I grew my literary tastes changed and mutated, and there came a time when the cosmic horrors and walking nightmares all but faded from the front of my mind, replaced with stories of men who traveled among the stars, or detectives who followed long and winding trails of clues while they solved their latest case.

For a kid, it was sensory overload. I was overclocking my imagination.

Every book was a portal, a whole world just ready to set up shop in the infinite inside space of my imagination, and I welcomed all of it–every wise-cracking character with a witty remark at just the right moment, every fantastic city that went on forever in some a exotic setting, every plot that blew my mind. Every story lived and breathed and was real to me. Over time I could feel the motivations of the characters as clearly as if their desires were my own heart’s greatest wish, and their worlds became as real as my own.

I was hooked.

Something wonderful had happened. The rendering engine of my mind had begun to work, working along in tandem to whatever book I had in my hands at the moment. I began to not just see the stories as they had been set out before me, but I had begun to ask my own questions of the characters and the story. My own very first what if moments began to form, tiny little voices, quiet but determined to be answered. What if the main character acted differently at a key moment? What if instead of the hero arriving at just the right moment, it was the villain, or the sidekick, or someone else completely?

I was starting to think about modding the program, changing the code, and feeding it back through my own head.

Over and over again, the what ifs began to pile up in my head, so I did the only thing I that made sense–I tried to answer them as best as my own imagination could. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of a life’s journey, my own adventure, just like the heroes of all those stories I had been reading. With great joy I realized I had my own stories, and as I’ve grown and experienced life those stories have only multiplied.

Over 20 years later and I’m still questing, still traveling across fantastic new worlds, still meeting amazing new friends and powerful new enemies. Except now, the adventure isn’t starting on the page of a book, it’s starting in my mind’s eye, forever clear, and I’m ready to share the in-between places of my imagination with you.