In His Own Words... "I can't remember when I first started writing fiction. it was shortly after I began reading fiction, I'm sure. "I've been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I read a lot of the same kinds of books I'm writing-the John R. Tunis sports stories, for example. I also read a lot of history when I was young-and I still do now. It's always fascinated me. "When I was a high school senior, I was offered two jobs, both of the apprentice sort. One was in a commercial artist's studio, on a recommendation from my art teacher. The other was in the sports department of the local newspaper, following work on the school paper. I took the sportswriting job. "For four years I worked for the Arkansas Gazette while attending the University of Arkansas, first at Little Rock and then at Fayetteville, covering football, baseball, basketball, boxing, golf, tennis-everything that made up the sports page. After graduation, I joined the Associated Press as a newsman at Little Rock and later worked in AP bureaus in Detroit, Birmingham, and New Orleans. Eventually, I was Chief of Bureau in Little Rock, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Tokyo, Japan. I retired from the Associated Press in 1993 and now live in Evansville, Indiana. "For me, writing fiction is fun, relaxing, and satisfying-an enjoyable change of pace, a recharging of the batteries. "My first young adult novel, "Running Scared", got started one night in a motel room in Champaign, Illinois, when I had nothing else to do. Before long, the story had me in its grip. The creation of the thing was a fascinating experience. I liked the characters. I liked leading them through their problems to their triumphs. I kept going until one day it was finished. "I did not set out to write for young people. Looking back, I think it was something of a blessing that 1 did not. As I wrote "Running Scared", I imagined the reader as an adult, but after it was finished, it seemed more appropriate for young readers. The result, I think, was that the story did not talk down to teenagers. In every book I've written since, I've tried to keep the same approach.