I get quite a few common questions from readers. I'll include some here, feel free to contact me with other questions or feedback.
Q: How long have you been riding?
A: Since I was about 10, maybe younger. My dad rode, and often took me the places a father has to take his sons to on the back of his 70's era Honda 350. I picked up the habit on neighborhood dirt-bikes, and later on my very own 125 Street bike that my dad "taught" me to ride on. That bike made more unauthorized miles across the country than I care to admit (there is a reason for all the gray hair on my parents' heads), and had well over 100,000 miles on it when it was destroyed in a house fire when I was 17 or so.
A long succession of machines ensued. Most I bought cheap and restored to their full glory. I then spent lots of time riding them till there were just no miles left in them.
I have rarely been without a motorcycle--the longest spell just about 2 years. I had cratered the engine on my Suzuki 750 and had not found anything I could afford for a while (I was feeling guilty about the money needed). The wife finally looked at me one day while we were quibbling over some triviality and said, "Dammit! Just go and buy a bike already! Sheesh!" Yes, I'm hooked, and . . . apparently . . . it is that obvious.
A rough estimate adds up to about a half-a-million miles ridden over 25 years.
Q: Are any of your stories true?
A: Well . . . let me say this about that: If you are a law enforcement officer, FBI agent, CIA operative, , grand jury, Congressional investigator, Senate sub-committee, meter-maid, ex-girlfriend, pissed off boyfriend or husband of an acquaintance, irritated wife, IRS or other tax enforcement agency, bill collector, motorcycle warranty evaluator, lawyer, subpoena server, customs agent, DEA canine, prosecuting attorney, border patrol agent, Mexican government official, private investigator, postal inspector, Canadian government official, US government official, UFO investigator, US Armed services official, or Coast Guard officer . . . then no. Everything I have ever written or will write is fiction. "I" only exist on a very zennish level anyway and cannot possibly have done anything contrary to the nine billion published laws of the various countries involved. Deep breath and repeat after me . . . "I . . . am . . . a . . . model . . . citizen." (I feel much better now, how about you?)
As for the rest of you? Well, note that the books are published as non-fiction. Some details have been changed on occasion . . . times, dates, even places and names where those were not critical to the story, but in the end you will really have to decide for yourself. Little I say would influence your opinion. I would recommend however that you keep an open mind, and possibly ride several hundred thousand miles (lots of that solo and cross country) before passing final judgment. It is a wide and magical world out there. These books are my way of communicating the magic and freedom of the riding experience, rather than just publishing yet another "I went here and did that" travelogue. The younger, less experienced riders often say, "No way!" and the older, long distance solo guys ask, "When are you going to write down the strange stuff?"
Believe. Or not. Either way, enjoy the stories!
Q: But what about the naked chick on the road at night!? Was she real! She can't be real! She must be real! No? Yes? Really! Oh please let her be real!
A: Out of all my stories, Valkyrie Magic elicits the most comments. Rest assured, there really are naked women in Texas. Summer nights here are just plain magic!
Q: What's her address?
A: 3214 Wan . . . ur . . . um . . . HEY!
Q: Do you worry about flat tires or other breakdown?
A: Not really. Worry is the wrong word. I carry tools and repair supplies so that I can deal with a minor flat or other problem, and I maintain my machine in good condition so I seldom experience any difficulties. But, things can happen. If I breakdown, then I'll fix it, push it, or even call for help . . . or simply push the bike over and walk, depending on the severity of the problem. Breakdowns can be unpleasant, but in the end, they are just part of the experience. If you are reasonably prepared as far as tools and a little mechanical knowledge goes, then there is little encountered that cannot be handled.
Q: Isn't touring dangerous?
A: No more dangerous than your local city. Traffic away from the major cities is much lighter, and the drivers generally more aware and less frantic than your local commuters. I consider the riding part of touring to be much safer than a local commute. As far as people and dangerous encounters . . . they are certainly possible, but no more so than in your own community. Prudence and respect will generally keep you out of trouble.
Q: Have you ever crashed?
A: No . . . not really. I have dropped my bikes many more times than I care to admit, sometimes as the result of a traffic interaction, sometimes just something embarrassingly stupid, but I have never crashed,
Q: Now that you're a big time author, are you going to ride full time?
A: I wish. I am not a big time author . . . there is not a lot of money in the small press and it is really hard to get the word out about the books. I still work at my full time career (the one that pays for all these shenanigans) and ride when I can. That said, I continue to work on the books and hope that someday I'll earn my living that way.
Q: What's next? Are there going to be more books?
A: I really enjoy writing and sharing my experiences. As long as I can find interesting things to write about, and manage to get them published, there will be more books in the Life is a Road series. There are currently four Life Is a Road books, and I am actively working on a motorcycle fiction novel titled Storm Rider. It is based on characters introduced in the short story of the same name that appeared in Life is a Road, Get on it and Ride.
Look for Storm Rider in 2007.
Q: A lot of your stories are published on the web. Why should I buy the books?
A: Many of the stories are on the web. I tend to share my experiences to the message boards I frequent and other friends as I get them written. The books contain the edited and refined versions of those stories (look upon the web as my "rough draft") and really pull them together with a common theme that runs through the books. In addition, there are chapters in the books that are not on the web and introductions to the stories where merited. Ron Lee's excellent illustrations and Dan Peters' dramatic covers are an added attraction. Besides, how the heck am I supposed to become a big-time author if you don't buy the books?
Q: Where should I buy the books?
A: There are a LOT of middle men in the book market and all of them take their chunk. I make the most profit when you purchase them directly from me. Please consider that option. Next up is Lulu.com/lifeisaroad. This is my storefront and is the place I make the next most profit. Note that the books are shipped directly from the manufacturer to you so they won't be signed from this or any other retailer. Barring those two, just order them where you prefer to buy books. ANY online retailer or even your local bookstore can order these books for you.
Q: I read the book and loved it. Anything I can do?
A: Yes, get on Amazon and review it. Tell your friends! Tell your favorite message boards! Write your favorite motorcycle magazine. Heck, tell Oprah! It is really hard to get the word out about these books. Getting them published was the easy part. There is no advertising budget, so any help I can get in getting the word out is deeply appreciated!