My old roommate from college recently asked me why I was masquerading as a writer. He wasn’t being obnoxious. After all, at UNC-Chapel Hill, I had studied economics, political science, and business, only dabbling in the creative courses (art history, comparative literature).
Wasn’t I out of my element?
Maybe not. My novel, Burying the Pawn, recounts the story of three unconventional individuals facing the challenges of learning disabilities and mental health issues. My wife and I raised two special needs children of our own. Two of the novel’s protagonists are immigrants; likewise, my mother and wife came to America from Spain and Venezuela, respectively. The novel’s third main character works as an adventure tour operator. That was my story too—at least in part.
I grew up in Washington, D.C., and Western Europe as the son of an American diplomat and Spanish-born artist. My high school years were lonely, not helped by my shy nature or the cumbersome back brace I wore to counteract scoliosis. When I later landed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I knew that I was in Blue Heaven. I stayed long enough to earn my BA and MBA, sandwiched around stints as a lender (boring!) and foreign exchange trader.
Next I worked as a White House Budget Office economist, eventually leaving to start an ill-fated adventure tour company named after a Jimmy Buffett song. After five years in corporate finance, I returned to adventure travel, this time running Nature Expeditions International, Inc. for eighteen years before selling it. NEI operated adventure, cultural, and wildlife viewing tours to 40 countries on six continents.
I love to read, write, play pickleball, dance tango, root for the Tar Heels, and help out in the community. My wife, Maria, and I divide our time between Weston, Florida, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
My children, now young adults, deserve special mention. Their courage, perseverance, and talents continue to awe my wife and me. But they received lots of help. Many special needs children aren’t so lucky. They suffer, and their potential is squandered. My fervent hope is that, along with entertaining readers, Burying the Pawn will instill greater respect for the potential of the disadvantaged and suggest a way forward.
The novel was published on September 19, 2023, becoming a #1 Amazon Bestseller (Inclusive Education), #2 Amazon Bestseller (Disability Fiction), #6 Amazon Bestseller (Special Eduction), and #36 Amazon Bestseller (Friendship Fiction).