Not so long ago an art teacher and dietitian had their first child, a boy named Randy. Although not of royal lineage, during Randy’s early years he and his sister did make royal messes.

For all but his diaper years, Randy’s family dwelled along the Mississippi River.

Here, he caught countless fish, canoed, and did cannonballs from a Tarzan swing—sometimes while a lonely lioness’s roars echoed along the riverbanks (from Smuda’s Zoo).

Image from Boys’ Life

When not swimming or fishing, he read Ranger Rick, National Geographic World (for kids), and Encyclopedia Brown.

Dug snow caves.

Painted his bedroom walls with posters of wildlife, Uncle Sam, and Star Wars.

Waged epic wars with plastic soldiers ordered from comic books.

Then one day in seventh grade, a teacher fairy appeared. She said, “Theater and speech, try you might.”

Randy did.

Another teacher fairy introduced him to The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and role-playing games like Traveller and Dungeons and Dragons.

His thespian activities continued through high school, as did role-playing games and comic books. But when the local comic store closed, his dismay caused the store’s owner, a bearded fairy, to suggest, “Open your own comic book store, you should.”

Randy did, for one summer. Then, during his junior and senior years, he continued to peddle superhero comics from his school locker.

Upon graduating from high school, Randy went on a quest—to find gold to pay for college. To earn this treasure (perhaps bewitched by his toy soldiers and Uncle Sam poster), he joined Army R.O.T.C.

National Park Service photo

Enchanted by his boyhood’s wildlife posters, he also sought gold in the legendary park named Yellowstone. While he labored there, the park’s fiery summer of 1988 made the air taste like smoke and ash.

Winters came, summers went. Years later, amidst National Guard duty and corporate endeavors, fairies returned. They teased as only fairies can, “A new quest, time for. Craft stories, you must.” Hence, Randy began writing.

But his writing apprenticeship progressed too slow. And so, he forsook his business and military careers. He swore allegiance to the starving artist gods. Gods that demanded sacrifices of ramen and rusty cars. Yet he persevered as a full-time creative writing student, then writer.

During these quests, blizzards raged, mosquitoes drank his blood, and he thrice backpacked overseas.

Oakdale Library staff photo

He also had thrilling adventures with youth as a summer camp counselor, kid book club assistant, and speech judge and coach.

These days, Randy lives a nomadic lifestyle as a year-round house and pet sitter. As he migrates around “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” and elsewhere, he’s fond of picturesque views.


When he’s not photographing, perusing books, or penning tales, one might find him hiking, cultivating flora, or spying on fauna with trail cameras.

All these experiences and more, plus chocolate rituals, fuel his stories. Tales that range from flash fiction to novels to screenwriting to children’s books. As a storyteller, sages taught him that quests and stories never really end—they just pause at a clever moment. Like now…