Michael A. Rothman – Author, Engineer and Cat Herder.
In a nutshell:
- First-born American in my family
- Accepts no excuses
- Despises self-importance in himself and others
- Loves Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thrillers
I am an Army brat, a polyglot, and the first person in my family born in the United States. That being said, I was raised in a household whose patriarch (my grandfather) was a WWII refugee. As a child, he found himself running from Nazi occupation in his native Hungary, leaving behind death destruction and a life that was no longer his. I grew up learning the life lesson that said, “Never assume you’ll be given anything. Work hard. Be humble. Tolerate no excuses.”
Let’s see – a little bit more about me.
Who I am now: I generally keep my non-literary activity under wraps, but I’ll give you a gist of what I do. I’m primarily an engineer, focused largely on computer technology. And even though I think of myself as an engineer (that’s my background) – I also do my fair share of cat herding. No, I won’t define that … if you’re in the business, you know what I mean. My focus is on system software design and I’ve designed or contributed to architecture that is currently working in all modern computers today by nearly all of the tier-1 (most well-known) companies of the world. My code and/or logic is sitting in the smallest objects we could call computers up to and including the largest servers. Whether it is deeply embedded devices such as missile guidance systems or vehicle navigation systems or general-purpose PCs such as laptops or even gaming consoles, I’ve worked with just about all types of “computers” throughout my career. Even before my days of system-level design/development, I used to be an operating system developer. Some of you may have heard of things like DOS [former development team lead] or OS/2 [kernel developer] – but this is ancient history.
Also in the ancient past, I may have had my hand in playing with airfoil turbulence models – but I’ve forgotten more than I remember, so don’t quiz me on RANS simulations, etc. Oh yeah, and lasers are a “thing” of mine, and no, I won’t build you one.
So as an industry expert in platform configuration (both remote and local), performance, localization and systems design – I continue to work with all of the top-tier companies and have a good time doing it.
Growing up: Given my first-born American status, I grew up with English as my third language. What most people don’t realize is that when you learn a variety of languages, you tend to figure out that some words in non-English languages are actually words in English too, but most people don’t use them often in dialog. Example? How about “culpable” – which in Spanish means a person who is to blame. Guess what? It means exactly the same damned thing in English too. 😉
As a child, I always had an active imagination and would continuously drive my family crazy with a myriad of “what if” questions. After a while, they shoved me at the local public library and that’s when I was finally introduced to the world of books, and more specifically, science fiction and fantasy novels. My earliest influences were J.R.R. Tolkien’s classics as well as those of Isaac Asimov. Titles such as these tickled my imagination both as a child and into adulthood.
It shouldn’t be a big surprise that during school, my English teachers found me problematic at times. Sure my vocabulary was great and so was my spelling, but I didn’t put much value in anything creative. After all, I grew up in a very hard-nosed [practicality is of the utmost importance] household. I knew I was either going to be a physician or an engineer, and creative writing was never even on my radar. Given my lack of focus when it came to creative writing, my English teachers delighted in flooding my half-hearted attempts at creative essays with red ink.
I can guarantee you that if any of those teachers knew I was writing books, they’d faint or laugh hysterically.
As an adult: I’ve been privileged enough to have traveled throughout the world and let’s suffice it to say that I’ve been a practicing engineer since the late 1980’s. I never practiced any kind of creative writing, however I’ve been a prolific inventor and have 100’s of patents. In retrospect, I can see how I’d been using my creativity in practical ways and even though I never exercised creative writing per se, I’d been exercising a different kind of writing with all of those patent disclosures. [I’ll note that even though my technical writing and my eventual creative writing were both done in English, that’s were their similarities ended. Eventually, I learned the difference between the two.] 😉
And then I had kids.
As soon as they were old enough, I began to create stories off the top of my head for bedtime. Both of my kids would ask me to continue the previous story from where I’d left off and inevitably ask what happened next. Lo and behold, they too began asking me many of the “what if” questions that naturally had come to me as a child.
To save myself a huge amount of grief (and to help me keep the story consistent) I began to write some of those stories down-at times writing the next week or month’s worth of the story.
Little did I realize that years later I’d find myself exercising that wild imagination and start writing down the answers to lots of “what if” questions in the form of my first book.
And after lots of gnashing of teeth and learning of craft, holy cow – eventually people started reading some of what I’ve written, further motivating me to write more. How did THAT happen?
In the meantime, if you want to see my ramblings, I also lurk at the following social media portals:
Twitter – @MichaelARothman
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/MichaelARothman
Blog – http://www.michaelarothman.com