I was born, depending on which account you credit, either in an abandoned subterranean base on the planet Pluto, or in Long Island Jewish Hospital, NY, USA. Either way, I soon moved to Arlington, Virginia.
I either wanted to be a superhero, a scientist, or a writer. I didn't want to be the kind of scientist who carefullly studies and contemplates natural phenomena, however; I wanted to be the kind who builds giant ray guns. As for being a superhero, while I do have superpowers, they are not very impressive superpowers, and I could never design a costume to my liking. I therefore decided to be a writer, and began (I am about thirteen at this point in our story) to send off stories to Amazing Science Fiction, the New Yorker, and so forth. They duly sent back rejection slips, which I found quite infuriating. Eventually, one magazine had the temerity not only to reject my story, but to suggest that I should add more of a plot, and resubmit it to them. This was sufficiently aggravating that I stopped submitting things altogether. I then gave up writing, cold turkey, in my sophomore year of college.
Then I became a computer programmer, which is really a lot like getting to build giant ray guns.
Since I was not writing anymore, the language centers of my brain began complaining, and to pacify them I was forced to travel a lot, living in Italy, Israel and Switzerland, and learning Italian, German, Swiss-German, some Hebrew, and how to curse and say "Where's the party?" in Russian.
During the course of this, I met the most delightful woman in the world, Esther , who was from Switzerland. Since it is not sensible to love someone from somewhere so far away, we spent a long time trying to break up. After seven years of trying to escape the fact that we made each other blissfully happy, we admitted defeat and got married.
While we were still fighting destiny, I worked at $ many software startups. These were great fun, allowing me to build giant ray guns 70 hours a week and collect a variety of pretty pieces of paper known as "stock options", which were only of somewhat less use than the rejection slips mentioned above. The coolest thing I built during this period is the online game Sanctum.
For many years I lived in Basel, Switzerland, where I only worked 30 hours a week, at my lovely, cushy day job. This gave me time to play rugby (quite poorly) and to write again. I gave myself points every time I get a rejection slip, so they stopped being infuriating. I actually sold some stuff, and came out with a chapbook.
In December 2000 my daughter Aviva was born, and my period of hugely excessive free time came to an end. Still, I found baby-time to be different than software-startup-slavery-time; while singing, cooing, and walking back and forth, you can be mulling over plot and premise in the back of your mind in a way you can't while coding. (Toddler time, which we are now well into, is a little less given to contemplative musing, but you can still have momentary fragments of story-dreaming while chasing inflatable balls around the playground).
I spent six weeks in the summer of 2001 at the Clarion West Writer's Workshop, in Seattle, getting to pretend to be a full-time speculative fiction writer for a while with the most talented and generous bunch of folks I could have asked for. I babble on about it here and here and here.
In 2003 we moved back to the USA and I got a 40-hour a week job; in December 2003 my son Noah was born. Still, writing time is there to be had if I want it, mostly before 9 am, in a cafe on my way to work.
Typically, when you ask writers why they write, they look at you dourly and say, "I have to. I am driven to do so. If you do not absolutely have to write, spare yourself this misery."
Not me. I don't have to write. I write because I love it. I'm
grateful for every minute I get to do it. It's like being a superhero,
but you don't need a costume.