Artist & Author
My name is Brian Snowden, and I am originally from central Virginia. My family is from Charlottesville where my mother and father were both born and raised. The family goes back into at least the middle 19th century in the area between Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. An ancestor of my mother was the Fire Marshall in the town of Clifton Forge.
I was not born in Charlottesville, but it was the family home base for the long career my father had in the U.S. Marine Corps. I was born in the Naval Hospital at Quantico where my father was stationed in 1950. I doubt anyone wants to consider Quantico their hometown, so I usually say it is Charlottesville.
The family moved a lot while I was growing up, and we spent time in locations such as Englewood NJ, Oceanside CA, Pearl Harbor HI, Charlottesville and Paris France. Once I was out on my own, that moving routine hardly diminished. I have lived at twenty-seven different addresses in my lifetime. This includes living outside the US in France, Spain and Peru. I have traveled to about forty-five countries all together. Many of the trips were for business, and some for vacations.
I often think about the places I have lived and events I have experienced and the influences they have had on me. Perhaps the two most important ones (of the many) were attending Punahou School when we lived in Hawaii, and the two years we lived in a suburb west of Paris when I was in grade school. My time at Punahou had ups and downs, and the downs predominated because I went there for grades nine and ten and I was very obviously an outsider (a 'haole' in Hawaiian). Some of the 'local' students were friends of mine, but there were times when I was treated very poorly. Nonetheless, I got an unusually deep and broad education at Punahou, and I have mostly focused on the advantages to going to such an outstanding academic institution.
The two years in France, when my father was stationed at a base near St Germain en Laye, were nothing short of amazing. We lived in a military housing development called Petite Beauregard that was about a ten-minute drive from the Palace of Versailles. The things that have stuck with me for all of life are - the museums and historic places; travels to the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy; my first introduction to a Romance language; and my early appreciation for cultures very different from those I have experienced in the US.
I would like to address the issue of what makes me a writer. I don't want to go into too much detail and analysis, but there are two essential components to being a writer, particularly of fiction. The first is the ability to express one's ideas in a language. My first language is English, but I have been speaking Spanish for some fifty-five years. In my novel On the Precipice of the Labyrinth there is considerable text in Spanish. Virtually all of it has been translated in the book, so no worries.
I did my first fictional writing when I was in high school. I wrote a short story for an English class and my teacher was impressed. The graded story was returned to me (supposedly) and that teacher suggested I include it in a school publication. Unfortunately, the short story disappeared. Either I lost it or the teacher did, but it didn't matter. I got a signal from someone that my writing was worth sharing with others.
My formal education has been helpful, of course. I have these qualifications to offer: I attended Punahou School in Honolulu, one of the most highly rated schools in the US; I got my BA in Spanish at the U. of Virginia; a got a Master's in International Management from Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Business; I earned my PhD in Organizational Behavior & Development at the Union Institute & University. That adds up to twenty-one years of formal education. That does not make one a writer, of course, but all that education did provide me a very solid base in the English language.
I can add to that being a professor for sixteen years at the Cincinnati Branch of Wilmington College. The courses I taught were mainly in the realm of the Social Sciences, and my pedagogical philosophy is based on dialogue and writing. My courses were always 'writing-intensive', and in a typical semester I would have to grade a few hundred essays. In addition, I was named the Writing Advisor for the Cincinnati Branch, a title I maintained for my entire tenure.
The second key component I believe is experience in the world. I have previously indicated some of my experiences, but here are a few items to add: I have lived in eleven US States; I have spent a total of about five years living overseas; I have visited about forty-five countries, and that includes every Spanish-speaking nation on Earth with just two exceptions (El Salvador and Nicaragua); I have studied six foreign languages - Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese and Greek; I have met with heads of huge corporations and spent time in some highly impoverished areas in other countries; I have always been an observer of life and people (people watching when traveling has been a consistent activity through the years).
The final component I want to mention is imagination. I don't know where imagination comes from. Is it something we inherit from our DNA? Is it something we try to emulate when we observe others with great imagination? I am a person who always considers the fundamental question of 'nature versus nurture'. Nobody knows how the precise relationship between these (not yet, anyway). What I do know is my imagination is almost unlimited. I am constantly bombarded by ideas, most of which prove to be fleeting. Countless times I have watch a comedy show (such as SNL) and thought of skits that would be entertaining. I have had ideas for short stories and plays. Sometimes I started on them, but mostly I did not. I have seen it as a kind of mental exercise.
In conclusion, my life experiences, my formal and informal education, my interest in reading (I estimate I have read over a thousand novels), my interest in languages, and a (sometimes radical and even bizarre) imagination have given me the tools to write fiction. I will leave it to others to determine if I have sufficient talent in this regard for a broader readership.