I’m Avi. I’m a creative writing and contemporary English lit teacher, which makes me, probably before all else, a writer — and, like most writers, this is a lifelong passion that began when I was a child, seeing my parents’ love of, in my father’s case novels and in my mother’s predominantly poetry. I wrote my first book before I started school and it was, as many such works are, a literary triumph of dogs, butterflies, and a gratuitous visit to a swing set. Since then, I have moved on from the Commodore 64 but I still visit the swings, if not in my writing, at least in my existence whenever I have the opportunity.
How can we even begin to know others if we don’t know ourselves?
What you’ll find here is divided into a few sections. I write fiction in several different forms and each of them has a section devoted to what I’m working on at the moment and a collection of what has been published & collected online from the past. These sections are long fiction, short fiction, and poetry.
My work on teaching creative writing is housed in its own section, along with starters and ideas both for prose fiction and poetry. My literature course information, including class notes, falls into another section and, as you may expect, it is focused on the things that I most often talk about in class, mostly contemporary fiction and world lit, work that’s appropriate for high school and undergraduate students both in popular fiction and more experimental literary studies.
While none of it has made it here yet, my academic research and publications will eventually be combined to form another section but, for now, that’s still mostly available on the sites where it was originally published — I am working on it but these things are rather slow to make work, alongside all the actual writing.
You probably came to this page looking for information about me. Well, what can I tell you? Really, three things. I can talk about my history, the topics that interest me, and what my life looks like outside the pages of my books.
My history starts with, as is often the case, birth and, which is far less frequently found, adoption. If you’ve read my first book, that will come as no surprise but, as you likely have not, my family wasn’t given to me at birth but nearly two months later on November 22. Inside the fam, this has always been referred to as my family day, something we celebrate like a birthday but without an extra yearly round of presents. Instead, it was commemorated with a new Christmas tree ornament with each passing year, of which there are already quite a few — my sister had the same yearly ornament celebration on the day she joined the family, a day I was old enough to participate in but far too young to really remember. I started school as is typical when I was four and found it to be, much like education is for anyone who doesn’t fit the typical mold, a reduction to the lowest common denominator, especially in primary and elementary. I loved reading and writing, mathematics and science (especially physics, even at that young an age), but the school was summarily unable to provide any sort of stimulation to keep me interested. At home, though, this was all different. My parents, both teachers, gave me books to read in which they shared every day, information, and a way to expand my learning. My father introduced me to the world of technology a decade before the web was to make the internet a place for everyone and far longer before the internet became a ubiquitous part of our hour-by-hour lives. It may sound like an odd experience but I started university before I got my first cellphone and, definitely, before any of my friends had one. That’s unthinkable in today’s world, really, but it meant that I had to learn how to read, learn, and write in an analog environment. Not that I don’t use a computer for it and not that I wasn’t using one then. I started serious writing as a child on the keyboard of a then-rather-common Commodore plugged into a bulky monitor that has grown with me through the days of desktop computers and is now a very light and far easier to type on MacBook Pro.
My mother loved creating art and writing both with words and notes while my father was a math teacher, musician, and photographer. I would take up all of those pursuits (including teaching math) later in my life, working as a teacher, studying music, and doing photography, both as a practitioner and as an instructor. What I have realized, though, is that the foundation that my parents gave me and that I gradually took up as I became more responsible for my own education and development, would lead me to focus on two things out of the many that I love passionately. I write (in English) and teach (also, you may have guessed) not only in English but about how to turn this language’s words into streams of thought, image, and lyrics to the song of our existence.
What interests me, you ask, and the list is long in its complete form but, realistically, it becomes a few simple ideas. More than anything else, the beauty of using language is my first and truest love. I cannot express, even through the words themselves, the comfort and sense of being at home that I feel from the sound or the presence of words used in a way that caresses the mind, intrigues the senses, and makes perception something that can be lived vicariously. Other than this, I write about freedom and coming of age, justice, religion, and terrorism, extremism and the shocking rise of nationalism. Perhaps more than anything else of late, I often find myself writing about equality — there is no greater truth than the fact that we are individuals, all deserving of our existence free of classification, whether by race or location, gender or age, to be judged on our own merits and thoughts rather than the cover of the book we call self. I also write not so much as a researcher but as a communicator of scientific ideas, more than anything else, perhaps the most beautiful concept of which we are aware in nature, evolution by natural selection, the only process comparable to the creative force of language in its simplicity from which comes immeasurable complexity and beauty. I write on nature and its results both from a creative and scientific perspective.
Outside my books, perhaps my greatest passion is reading. If a week goes by without at least a couple of books being read, it would indeed be a very curious time (as opposed to such an incident). I do keep a couple of lists of books that I love and books that I recommend (which are, I hasten to point out, two very different lists, as reading the things that you love is exceedingly important but confining your reading only to work that you love makes your intake of language particularly stilted and self-perpetuating) and those should appear here soon. I also have a love of music. I sing and play various instruments, to a wide-ranging degree of competency — in university, I studied music as a singer, a little hard for some people to believe now with the direction my life has taken as an academic rather than a performer. While it has been a fairly long time since some of these have had a chance to occur, other lifetime pursuits are hiking, climbing, photography (people and animals, not so much landscapes), and generally being in nature. There is something that trees and mountains, lakes and rivers give me that a human-dominated existence never has and I never pass up an opportunity to escape the organized life in the urban sprawl to spend time among the forests and flowers.
I have two loving parents who gave me my start in life and far more than I could ever repay and a sister with children of her own. I did, as you may guess from the pages of my books, spend my childhood in the presence of a beautiful dog who taught me much about commitment and the importance of not taking nature for granted. My family is the reason that I can write as I do. From my grandparents I learned to live in the moment, see every day as a new adventure and set aside yesterday’s failures to focus on today’s truths.