Robert McKay: Blog

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March 19, 2012
Posted at 12:37 pm

Who I am & where I come from & all that stuff :)

It occurs to me that there might be one person somewhere in the world who's interested not just in my stories, but in the guy who writes them. I know I get interested in authors (though the only one I'd ever even think of asking for an autograph died when I was not quite a year old), and while I'm by no means as famous or interesting as even the least famous or interesting published author, I though I'd say a bit about myself anyway.

I was born in 1960 in Hawthorne, California, which is part of LA (but not part of Los Angeles, a distinction which may be dying out now, but which was very important when I was young). As far as I know I've never been in Hawthorne since then. I lived my first 10 years in various parts of LA - I only remember specifically McClaren Hall, which is part of the juvenile system, a foster family in Glendora, and finally the foster family who raised me from the time I was 5, in Azusa.

In 1970 we moved to Clayton, Washington, which is about 25 miles north of Spokane. We lived there for three years, and then moved to a place we'd had for years in Lanfair Valley, which is in the Mojave Desert of California. It's the desert, and especially Lanfair Valley, that I consider home, though my "hometown" is Goffs, which we could see from our "new 20" - a place we bought south of Hackberry Pass in Fenner Valley, where we moved in a trailer house, and put in a septic tank and water tank. We hauled our water 10 miles from Goffs, which was south of us - the best water I've ever tasted.

I went to school, while living in the desert, in Needles, which is famous for three things. First, it's frequently the hottest place in the country during the summer (120 isn't uncommon...and since the city's right on the Colorado River, the humidity can be 90% or higher), Snoopy's brother Spike lives there, and it got a mention in a song by Three Dog Night. Otherwise it's undistinguished, though it was, being only 40 miles from home, the closest town of 5,000 people. We shopped mostly in Needles, though we'd sometimes go over into Arizona and up the river to Bullhead City. Bullhead is across the river from what is now Laughlin, Nevada, but at the time was just the other side of the river.

In December of 1977 we moved back to Clayton. It was there that I graduated from high school (the first time we lived there I went to Clayton Elementary, in a brick building going back to 1914, but for high school I had to ride the bus into Deer Park). Two weeks after I graduated I was in the Air Force, going through basic training at Lackland AFB near San Antonio, Texas. I went to tech school at Sheppard AFB, near Wichita Falls, Texas, and then went to Osan AB, Korea.

I was in Korea for a year, and while I was there I met and married my wife, in August of 1979. We came back to the States in December of 79, and I spent the rest of my time in the Air Force at Tinker AFB, in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

After I got out of the Air Force in the summer of 1982 I got a job in Oklahoma City, which lasted a few months - until I was in two wrecks in two months, couldn't afford another car, couldn't ride the bus because there wasn't any, and couldn't ride with anyone else because no one on my shift lived anywhere near me. After some dislocations we wound up living with my aunt and grandmother in Cisco, Texas. It was while there that I became a Christian, in January of 1983. I surrendered to preach in March, and preached my first sermon on Easter Sunday evening that year.

Meanwhile we'd had a daughter, in 1980, and our second daughter was born in 1983 while we were living in Cisco. Then in October of that year we moved to Marlow, Oklahoma, where I began writing for a Christian apologetics paper. We were there until 1986, when I became associate pastor of East Tawakoni Baptist Church in Texas.

We were there for about 18 months, and then a combination of church finances and church politics caused me to resign. We moved to Garland, which is a suburb of Dallas, and I got a secular job. After a bit we moved to Farmers Branch, into a nicer apartment, because our finances had improved. We stayed there until 1989, when we went back to Marlow, to the same job.

The Southern Baptist Convention took over the organization in 1991, but my duties remained essentially the same - research, writing, and speaking. During this time I became the pastor of First Baptist Church, Rush Springs, and we moved into the parsonage there. It was a small church (the big church in town was First Southern Baptist) so necessity as well as choice kept me working full-time for the apologetics ministry. I was the pastor there for 18 months or so, resigning when it became clear that the church just wasn't interested in doing anything different than it had been doing for years. Sadly, the church disbanded not long after that.

During this second period in Marlow I began first reading, and then writing, poetry. A number of my poems appeared in an online journal called Autumn Leaves. It ceased publication when the editor died, and now that her husband has died as well the site ( may no longer be up. I haven't yet found an outlet for my poetry, but I do have submissions in here and there, and hope to find somewhere I can publish again.

In 1996 and 1997 Southern Baptist politics spat the apologetics ministry out, and in 97 we left Marlow and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we've been ever since. Perhaps a year after we came here I became an elder of Albuquerque Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, while working a secular job. I was with that church for two or three years, and then moved to Heritage Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational church where I've been ever since. My last pastoral position was with ASGBC - my "preaching" has taken other forms.

In late 2004 I found myself in an emotional upheaval, one result of which was to remind me just how much I love my wife. I decided to write two or three short stories about our marriage, and resurrected a character I'd tried out a couple of years before, and gotten nowhere with - Darvin Carpenter. In his original incarnation he was much rougher, he had been in the Air Force and married a Korean lady, and was now a widower. In the new version he began never having been married, he's never been in the military, and he's emphatically not a hard boiled character. Obviously you can read all about him in the stories I've already posted, and the ones I'm currently posting. :)

Those two or three short stories turned into a furious spate of fiction that lasted until 2009. After I finished The Chief in that year my output slowed way down - I've only completed one Carpenter novel in that time, and the one currently underway has been moving very slowly for several months now, in contrast to earlier books which I wrote in two or three weeks.

Also part of what I call my fiction "spurt" were several romance novels, which take place in the Carpenter universe though they focus on other characters. Some of them are very good (or so I think), and some of them aren't so great - none of them, in my estimation, are quite as good as some of the writing I've done in the Carpenter series.

And that's my biography, such as it is, and FWIW. :)