Biography

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I was born in Torrance, California on December 29, 1940 and grew up in Southern California.  I don’t know why my parents named me James Michael Herron if they were planning to call me Mike all my life.

My mother and father were divorced when I was four, and for the next decade my sister Patty and I experienced a succession of stepfathers.  My mother remarried for the 5th time in 1953 and, amazingly enough, remained married to him until her death in 1991.  I’m not complaining; my life was no better or worse than anyone else’s life, it was just mine and it was up to me to make the best of it.  I did swear to myself that I would never repeat my mother’s pattern of relationships.

I graduated from Oxnard High School in 1958 and shortly thereafter went to work at Camarillo State Hospital where I became a Psychiatric Technician.  One thing I learned quickly while working there, at my relatively young age, was that the primary thing that separated the inmates from the staff was that the staff had a set of keys.  Other than that it was often difficult to tell any difference.

I followed the girl who would later become my first wife to Provo, Utah and attended my freshman year of college at Brigham Young University.  Unfortunately I had little motivation to apply myself to my studies and left at the end of my first year.

Not knowing what direction I wanted to pursue in life I decided to enlist in the Air Force, since at that time it was either join voluntarily or get drafted into the Army.  After completing basic training I was sent to Syracuse University for 10 months to learn Russian and, after learning how to operate radio equipment at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, I became a translator for the Air Force Security Service.  While at Goodfellow AFB I played on the base basketball team, and we made it to the All Air Force tournament.

By now I was married and my first daughter Sherilyn was born in December of 1961.  When it came time to choose assignments the Berlin wall had just gone up, and dependent travel overseas was not allowed.  I chose the shortest tour, a 12-month tour to St. Lawrence Island, and my love affair with Alaska began.

After completing my remote tour I returned to Goodfellow AFB where I taught the courses I previously took, again played basketball, and again made it to the All Air Force tournament.

In June 1964 my second daughter Patricia was born and in August I was honorably discharged.  Our family moved to Santa Barbara, California and I went back to school at Santa Barbara City College, graduating in 1965.  I enrolled at the University of California at Santa Barbara that fall.  In April of 1966 my son David was born and shortly after that my first wife and I were divorced; so much for learning from my mother’s experience.

At the time I was working as a recreation counselor at The Devereaux Schools in California, a residential program for emotionally disturbed adolescents.  I honestly don’t know whether I helped them or they helped me the most during that time as I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

It was in 1966 that I met Susan, the woman who would ultimately become the true love of my life, but I was too immature at that point to recognize the true gem I had found.  We dated for two years, but I needed to grow up and we went our separate ways.

For the next three decades my professional life vacillated between social services and working in the private sector to make money.  Helping others fulfilled the part of me driven by my heart and values; working in business provided me with disposable income.  I directed a non-profit corporation in Modesto, California that became a model for others to emulate.  In 1981 I left it to start an e-mail company, a project that would consume much of the next fourteen years.  In retrospect, I think I helped create a monster.

My personal life for the first two of those decades can best be described as a time of serial monogamy.  Two more marriages came and went.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want a relationship to succeed; I just didn’t know how to make one work.  Finally, in desperation, I took a deep and serious look at myself and decided that despite all my own personal foibles I was still an okay person.  It might not sound like much but it was a huge revelation in my life.

In 1984, while I was back in Santa Barbara struggling with getting an email business up and running, Susan reappeared in my life.  Her husband had died, and while she was home visiting her family she looked me up.  It was love (reaffirmed) at first sight.  We were married in April 1985.  Marrying Susan was the smartest and best decision I’ve ever made.  We have been together ever since and will be together for the rest of our lives.  I don’t mean we don’t still have to work at our relationship, we do just like any other couple, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this time it’s forever.  You have no idea what a relief it is for me to have the personal part of my life at peace.  It enables me to take all the energy I was expending trying to hold myself together and use it to accomplish other things.

One thing that has been a constant throughout my life is my love of reading.  I was able to read by the time I was four, and my mother used to say that all she had to do to keep me occupied is put me in a room and hand me a book.  To this day I remain an avaricious reader, and it isn’t unusual for me to read three or four books in a week.  I’m still not sure if I read so much simply to escape or if I was looking for some sort of “magic formula” for success in life.  Regardless, I continued to read.  Mostly I read fiction although I periodically throw in some non-fiction as well.

I think my love of reading is a large part of what made me want to write a book.  I’ve wanted to do that since I was in high school.  Finally, in 2013, I managed to get my first novel Black Diamonds written and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

 

 

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