I was born in 1970, the first of seven children raised by my parents in Point Clear, Alabama. Point Clear was a remote stretch of low-lying coastline when I was a child. We had few neighbors and learned early to entertain ourselves. I spent a lot of my time outdoors fishing the bay and building tree forts and trapping in the swamp behind our back yard.
The house I grew up in was called Little Fish after my grandmother, Fisher. It was built by my grandfather during the Second World War when he was stationed in Mobile as a ship engineer. Little Fish was never meant to be a year-round home. It wasn’t insulated and didn’t have many conveniences you would expect to find in most houses during the 1970’s. My four brothers and I shared a room with no air conditioning and spent muggy summer nights under ceiling fans. In winter, we kept warm with gas space heaters that burned until we crawled into our beds. Mom would come around and turn them off after we were asleep to save money and to take precautions against the house burning down.
Our house was full of bunk beds and sleeping bags. We preferred the efficiency and portability of sleeping bags over sheets and blankets. Aside from the fact that many mattresses were bare, visitors usually thought it strange that no one had a bed that they considered their own. Everything in the Key household was on a first-come first-serve basis. When we had overnight company, they would often be left confused and alone in the dark waiting for someone to tell them where to sleep.
Books and stories were a large part of our childhood entertainment. (See my favorite books here) My grandfather was a great storyteller and my parents read to us on many nights. From an early age I was fascinated with the concept of a book. I began writing my own stories, drawing the pictures, and binding it all in cardboard. Mom saved one of these creations that she says is my first. I wrote it when I was ten and it is about a collie caught in a barbed-wire fence during a tornado. It has a masking tape cover and gruesome pictures. It doesn’t seem to be pulled from my imagination, but more like something a young Steven King would create.
In ALABAMA MOON, you will see that I give credit to my high school English teacher for convincing me that I could write books. My school was small. There were only 23 people in my graduating class. I was a mediocre student in just about everything but creative writing. My storytelling ability stood out among my classmates, but I never would have known this if it weren’t for a teacher that encouraged my work. It felt good to be the best at something and hear her praises and I worked hard on my assignments so as not to let her down.
After high-school I attended Birmingham-Southern College where I began to write seriously. I think that much of this had to do with my new life in a big city where I didn’t have the swamp and the bay to entertain me. Writing was a way to dream away much of my time between studying.
I wrote two or three novels while I was in college and sent all of them up to New York. None of them were published. It took me about fifteen years before I was good enough to get a novel published. ALABAMA MOON was my ninth novel, I think. Maybe my tenth. Nothing I wrote before ALABAMA MOON will ever be published. Those books simply aren’t good enough and I have to consider them practice.
I currently live in south Alabama with my wife and three children. To this day I am still practicing my writing. I take nothing for granted, and I’m grateful each time I am able to sell a story. I am even more thankful to you, the reader, for reading my books.