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ABOUT BRAD BARKLEY

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Kristin and me, as usual, with coffee

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Only surviving pic of the '72 Camaro

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My kids (Alex + Lucas) and sweet Nellie

Me, Kristin, and our rescue Millie, beachin' it

Hangliding in clouds, 2000 ft. over Florida 

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Fly fishing for wild brown trout in PA

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The night I earned my BJJ purple belt

Brad Barkley grew up in Greensboro, N.C., where he could often be found outdoors playing a made-up and risky game called "Sharks and Minnows" with neighborhood kids until well after dusk, when somebody's mom would ring a cow bell to call them home. They also rode bikes — no helmets — at "The Pit," a giant hole in the ground where they weren't supposed to play. Please don't tell.       

 

When he was in junior high, he used to check out old 8 mm movies from the library and watch them on a projector in the basement. By himself. Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, silent horror films. His family just wasn't into it. He also enjoyed performing magic, practicing juggling, and reading, of course. My Side of the Mountain was a favorite. Later, A Separate Peace.

 

In high school, he played soccer and was co-captain of the varsity team at Kernersville Wesleyan Academy.

As a teenager, he left behind magic and juggling, but started getting into cars — a ’72 Camaro, in particular, and later a '65 Mustang, which he rebuilt in his parents’ garage. Reading remained a passion. When he signed up for college at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, he wasn't exactly sure what he wanted to be as a grown up.

 

His dad, a civil engineer, figured Brad would be an engineer, too. His mom said she thought he'd be a brain surgeon, but she was sort of kidding (we think).

 

Nobody wanted him to be an English major. Except Brad. A teacher in an early writing workshop encouraged him after he wrote his first-ever short story about a dying Civil War soldier. Another professor, who taught the class how to analyze Beatles lyrics, helped him realize that teaching English could be cool.

“What are you going to do with an English major?” his parents asked.  "I'm going to be a truck driver," he said. He was kidding, sort of.

At UNC-G he learned from epic writers Fred Chappell, Jim Clark, and Lee Zacharias, and he discovered great writers like Eudora Welty and J.D. Salinger. Summers he worked odd jobs —at Wendy's (where he was told he had "management potential"), at a milk bottling plant, as a roofer, and at a warehouse-size ice cream freezer where it was so cold (-32 F) that employees had to leave every 15 minutes and stand by a heat lamp.

 

The first "real job" he took after college was as a technical editor for a military contractor in Annapolis, Md., where he had a Top-Secret clearance (Shhhh). It was OK but not very fulfilling. He wrote short stories on the side and took classes at "The Writers' Center" in Bethesda. He and one other participant (Hi, Marie!) started a writing group, meeting once a month at the Tastee Diner to swap stories over pie and coffee. The group grew to eight people, and the feedback helped Brad get his first two short stories published. For money.

   

So he was off to grad school at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. There he received an MFA, published his first book of short stories (Circle View), and won a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship while still a student. He delivered newspapers and painted houses to support his family — a wife and two toddlers — while applying for college teaching jobs.

 

After a two-year stint at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, N.C., he landed at Frostburg State University in the mountains of Western Maryland, where he's taught for over 20 years, raised two fine children (Lucas and Alex) and written a bunch of books:

    · The novel, Money, Love (Norton), a Barnes and Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection and a "BookSense 76" choice. Money, Love was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and Library Journal.

    · The novel Alison's Automotive Repair Manual (St. Martin’s), also a "BookSense 76" selection.

    · Two collections of short stories, Circle View (SMU Press) and Another Perfect Catastrophe (St. Martin’s).

    · The YA novel, Scrambled Eggs At Midnight, published by Penguin/Dutton, was a “Booksense 76” choice.

    · The YA novel, Dream Factory, also a “BookSense 76” selection, and a Library Guild “Book of the Month” pick. It was voted the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters “Best Young Adult Book."

    · The YA novel Jars of Glass, published by Penguin/Dutton in 2009.

Brad has won four Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and multiple other awards for his work.  When he's not writing or teaching, he's taking a cold plunge or drinking coffee with his wife, Kristin, or playing tug of war with their sweet rescue dog, Millie Grace (half Doberman, half Border Collie). He's also a hang glider pilot, a fly fisherman, and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at BC Jiu Jitsu in Cumberland, Md., where he sometimes taps out guys half his age (and always comes home aching and mat-burned, but somehow serene).

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