Writing “Secret of the Tree” was the last thing that I would ever have foreseen, as a young boy. Growing up in rural Oklahoma, I spent the majority of my childhood alone, studying nature, collecting snakes of all kinds, and reading volume after volume of encyclopedias— several times over, by age eight. I was a tireless nerd, and a bookworm, consuming any reading material associated with nature, paleontology, and all sciences in general.
Being the third of seven children was also a catalyst to my desire to spend time alone with nature, researching all of the things I had read, first-hand. As a result, I enjoyed passing a great deal of time in lonely fields, far from city streets, making notes and maps, surveying the nature, and the geology. I collected a huge array of fossils from far and wide, including an assortment of trilobites and a protoceratops egg.
As life's journey led me to the farthest reaches of the globe, I eventually landed in Hollywood, where I began a career in the motion picture industry, as a set costumer on feature films and television productions.
Working on the set of films like “Forrest Gump”, “Saving Private Ryan”, "Cast Away",“Spider-man”, “Iron Man”, and “Valkyrie”, I had the opportunity to study piles of scripts, breaking down the stories and characters into minute detail. After 20 years in the business and nearly 50 major projects under my belt, screenwriter and close friend Michael McGruther inspired me to write a story— which I did— and a 15 page treatment, followed by a 120 page screenplay poured out of me in a ten-day writing marathon.
The typical process of turning a novel into a screenplay worked in reverse in this case. Upon finishing the third draft of the screenplay, I realized how stories change drastically when they are sold in the studio system. This story was too personal to surrender creative control, particularly after three revisions of the screenplay were completed over a three-year period. The revisions were done with the help of story consultant Dan Wolf, who at the time was V. P. of Communications for a major motion picture studio. Wolf’s brilliant insight on building a great story was invaluable to me. I was extremely fortunate to have a mentor who really understood story and character development, and who was an accomplished writer himself. Though his suggestion to lock the story into novel format seemed daunting, after three years of late nights and weekends, while working on movie sets fourteen hours a day, I finally completed my first novel— based on a screenplay.
As a great lover of nature, I wanted to author a work that would both entertain and inspire a generation of people to recognize the grave importance of preserving our planet and all it's creatures, and by doing so, we will save ourselves.