(Note: this section features my personal storytelling projects. For my story+tech projects with USC's Annenberg Innovation Lab and World Building Media Lab, see Research in Scholar and Consultant. For my story+tech projects with Microsoft, see Consultant.)
I grew up an only child in a big old farmhouse in rural Ohio. I had parents that liked to read, and our house was always littered with books and magazines, so figuring out the origin of my love for stories isn't exactly rocket science. Franklin W. Dixon's Hardy Boys mysteries were huge for me, as were Robert Arthur Jr.'s Three Investigators books and the wonderfully moody The House with the Clock in Its Walls, although whether I was more impressed by John Bellairs' text or Edward Gorey's illustrations is a tough call. I was also an absolute fiend when it came to mythology, ghost stories and cryptozoology. I was the kind of dork who was more than happy to stay in from recess and read. Forty-some years on, I still am.
I'm a huge sucker for magical realism, slipstream and interstitial fiction. Neil Gaiman, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Jonathan Carroll, Italo Calvino, Louis de Bernieres, Salman Rushdie, James Morrow, Michael Chabon, Philip Pullman, Nick Bantock, Jonathan Stroud, Kelly Link... Any time a truly excellent writer uses fantastic elements to illustrate either sweeping concepts or the nuances of life, I'm interested. That said, I'm also a fan of really excellent writing and literature in general. Some of my other favorite writers are Thomas Pynchon, Vladimir Nabokov, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Like many writer-designers, I'm also a huge fan of comics, especially alternative or indie comics like Gaiman's Sandman, Jeff Smith's Bone, Mike Mignola's Hellboy, Bill Willingham's Fables, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, and David Petersen's Mouse Guard. I'm also a big fan of Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, and Grant Morrison.
As a "theory and practice" kind of guy, I'm a huge fan of Umberto Eco, Scott McCloud, Matt Madden and Jessica Abel, and Nick Sousanis. I've also been lucky enough to have some truly wonderful writer-mentors in my life, including Eric Nylund, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, J.C. Hutchins, William R. Coughlan, Maureen McHugh, Flint Dille, Tony Patrick, P.F. Kluge, Nick Montfort, Frank Espinosa, and Junot Diaz.
Long story short, my attitude towards all writing is simple: make it good, make it smart, and make it fun. As the great philosophers Ben and Jerry once said, "If it's not fun, why do it?"