William Kirby was born in Estes Park, Colorado. His early childhood was spent hiking and sledding throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. Before reaching middle school, William’s family relocated to Kearney, Nebraska, a small town on the South Platte River. There he continued hiking with the added benefit of collecting fresh morel mushrooms. He attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Upon graduation, he taught high school Chemistry and Physics for a short time. However, his future wife, Kathryn, hooked a systems engineering job in Denver. As system engineering pays somewhat more than teaching, it was time to move back to Colorado.
William completed his first novel, Iapetus, in 1993. He has been writing on and off ever since. During breaks in writing, he has volunteered many hours (years) to historic preservation. He has also had the chance to travel widely, from Fiji, to Iceland, to Taiwan. Unfortunately, much writing time was lost to kidney stones and various surgeries. However, medical science seems to have caught up, and William is again writing full time.
William and Kathryn now make their home in Denver, Colorado. When not working, they travel, hike, backpack, ski, snowshoe, snorkel, and clean up the numerous fur balls hocked up by their two cats. Never a dull moment.
Five Books that Changed the Way I think About Writing.
No writer’s bio would ever be complete without some mention of influential works. Indeed, the complete list for any writer would be pages long. Below is my short list: five works that made a huge impact on how I think about writing:
- Slaughter House Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. After reading this novel back in college, I spent weeks trying emulate Vonnegut’s technique. The sense of timing and rhythm in his writing astounded me. How could take a single word or short phrase, and by simple repitition make it hit like steamroller? It blows me away.
- Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. My father, an English Professor, used this work in his class. I didn’t think much of the story until I got a copy with all of Dad’s annotations. I began to understand the power of Conrad’s imagery. I began to see the questions he was asking. I started to uncover the book’s many layers. I still read Heart of Darkness every few years. It gets better each time.
- The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. You can talk all you want about Tolkien’s scholarship and his command of language, but to concentrate too much on this behind-the-scenes stuff is to miss Tolkien’s most amazing talent: He was one hell of a storyteller. You know why The Hobbit is so good? Because it’s a great story told by a master storyteller. Such books a rare gems.
- The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler. Chandler’s genius was in his ability to create moods, scenes, and characters that grabbed readers by their shorthairs and yanked them into the story. Chandler didn’t write about L.A. He put you in L.A. Watching Philip Marlowe move through Chandler’s world is one of the great delights in all of fiction.
- Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, by Steven Millhauser. You know that bad feeling you get when asked to read literature? You’re stuck in story where everything is a symbol and nothing much ever happens. Yeah, I get that feeling too. But Millhauser’s Pulitzer Prize winner is a different beast. The prose and vision is so clear, and the story is so gripping that the pages keep turning. This book is intimidatingly brilliant. It’s another story I’ve read numerous times, trying to understand the grand illusion that Millhauser creates.