If anybody apart from my friends, family, and students knows who I am, it's because of my work as a writer for stage, screen, and radio. But apart from that, who am I?
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The best part of being me is that I get to be the husband of Dr. Karen Dill-Shackleford. The names get a little confusing: Karen has done me the honor of taking my last name, but is known by her earlier married name in her work as a well-known media psychologist.
BACK TO SCHOOL
I have the honor and pleasure of teaching at my alma mater, the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Theatre Department, where I teach Playwriting, Screenwriting, and Script Analysis. (I also write the scripts for the Department's popular "Bookends" series, but that's a topic for a different page.)
One of my favorite aspects of my life at UAB began in 2003, when I was encouraged by our Chair at the time to instigate a Festival of Ten-Minute Plays featuring new works by student playwrights. We've produced a new Festival every year since then, usually playing to standing-room-only houses. It is a thrilling high-wire act every year, putting these untested shows out before a live audience!
THROUGH SPACE AND TIME
I'm also a huge sci-fi geek, with a special love for the original STAR TREK series -- and for DOCTOR WHO. My favorite science fiction authors are the ones usually cited as "essential" -- H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury -- and the insanely brilliant Isaac Asimov. One of my most cherished possessions is a piece of "fan mail" written to me by Dr. Asimov after he read Holmes & Watson -- see it here!
I have a special interest -- okay, a fixation -- on H.G. Wells' WAR OF THE WORLDS, in all its incarnations. Why I chose this, of all science fiction stories, to "imprint upon" is beyond my ability to explain. But there it is.
One upshot of my decades of devoted fandom is that nowadays I get to be a co-host on a couple of podcasts: the near-legendary Doctor Who: Podshock and the new-and-exciting Discussing Who? I'm forever grateful to Louis Trapani and Kyle Jones for the opportunity to spout opinions about geeky media!
GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO
I am also a devoted student and fan of the drama and comedy from radio's Golden Age (roughly 1930-1950)-- my special favorite show being Fibber McGee and Molly. I am probably happiest when I'm listening to Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, The Shadow, X Minus One, Dragnet ... the list goes on and on.
And I love more recent radio programs, too, but mostly those from the UK (since Britain never lost its affection for radio the way America did) -- particulary I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that most sublime half-hour of insanity: The Goon Show.
All of this has urged me toward creating radio dramas of my own ...
DON'T GET ME STARTED
Somewhere along the way I've picked up a reputation as an entertaining public speaker. I'm not entirely sure how this got started, but I'm not complaining; I love talking at sci-fi/fantasy conventions, libraries, museums, and other similarly literary venues.
THE FUNNY PAGES
In the midst of all this I made time to draw lots of cartoons, mostly about Sherlock Holmes, reflecting my lifelong love of that extraordinary character. My Sherlockian series called "From the Doctor's Diary," had a long run in The Baker Street Journal.
When I was a lad I drew cartoons all the time (ask any of my high school teachers) and my main goal in life was to write and draw a story-oriented daily newspaper comic strip. As time went by I realized that the aspect of comics that I liked best was not the drawing but the writing -- so in a way I've attained my dream after all.
Let's see, what have I missed? I was born and raised in north central Alabama but have about as much affection for Alabama as I feel the state deserves. I was brought up in the Church of Christ -- even ordained as a minister in that denomination, believe it or not -- but now identify myself as a Unitarian Universalist. If you don't know what that is, I encourage you to look into it. I love the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but my favorite author of all time is P.G. Wodehouse. I collect toy robots. I love to travel.
And I think that's already more about me than any reasonable person could possibly want to know.