If you're wondering, the "ty" isn't short for anything. I am one of ten immediate family members whose name lengths run in the descending order of their birth: Barbara, Thomas (parents), Kevin, Lori, Amy, Ty, J, Aaron, Troy, and Yon. If you've done your math, the babies kept coming and my folks had to start back at the top. Those of us who have remained local still get together at least once a week to eat, to catch up, to tease, and to just stay a family.
I was born, raised, and have lived my entire life in and around Sandusky, Ohio, (yes, the Sandusky, Ohio, of Tommy Boy fame) along the coast of Lake Erie. Other than my college years, my actual home has always been within a mile or two of Erie's shores. It's almost impossible for me to imagine living anywhere else.
For both the good and the bad, twenty-six years in Catholic schools (as a student then as a teacher) and countless Sunday masses have gone a long way to form my person and now to inform my writing. As with my family and the Lake, I seem unable to wander from out of the shadow of the Church.
I am not what I "do." I do many things. I refuse to allow my person to be defined by the occupation through which I earn a living and ensure medical care, but I love teaching. I can't imagine a more exciting or inspiring place to spend my life than in a high school and with teenagers. There and among them, the past is still erasable, the present is bursting with first-time experiences, and a future full of wonders lies ahead. In fact, I don't believe that anyone ever graduates from high school, not really. In our minds, we forever walk the halls of our alma mater, and our teenage ghost haunts us wherever we go.
So, I write novelsnot because I have to (I don't have voices clamoring inside my headwell, at least no more than anybody else) but because it enables me to teach lessons of life and literature to individuals in places far beyond the walls of my classroom. No matter how little or how much money I earn as a writer or how many or how few books I sell, when asked, "What do you do?" I will always say, "I am a teacher."
Today is a good day. My wife, my three boys: Taylor, Travis, and Tanner are healthy and happy. I have more good friends than I deserve. I have a two-book deal with Delacorte/Random House, and my students still seem interested in what I have to say. I may not be the luckiest person in the world, but I have to be in the top two.