I want to say a public "thank you" to a few teachers who made a profound difference in my life.
THANK YOU to my first grade teacher Judy Hamilton, for responding so enthusiastically to the first stories I wrote in your class. Lewis Carroll was probably responsible for my excessive use of onomotopoeia, but you made me feel like I had invented something all my own. I still remember hearing you say that you expected me to write a published book one day. That was probably the moment when I started thinking of myself as a writer. I have never stopped.
THANK YOU to my 9th grade English / 11th grade Philosophy teacher Lisa Marshall, for always holding me up to a higher standard and for recognizing those few occasions when I actually made good on my potential. Thanks also for pointing me toward Aldous Huxley's perennial philosophy, for encouraging my interest in T.S. Eliot (even if it was a means of weaning me off of Stephen King novels), and for explaining Platonism to me in such a way that it became the intellectual foundation for my most deeply held beliefs about life and death.
THANK YOU to my college professor Dr. Robert Geary, for showing me that a person can make a respectable living by exploring the intellectual and spiritual aspects of horror tales. Thanks also for being so candid with me when I was trying to decide what career path to pursue after college, and for knowing my strengths and weaknesses better than I knew them myself. You gave me the confidence to pursue what I love.
THANK YOU to my film class professors -- Dr. Jim Ruff, Dr. Robert Hoskins and Dr. Ralph Cohen -- for providing me with an outlet for my obsession with movies. Without you, I would not have turned my love of horror films into a book (which was published roughly twenty years after Judy Hamilton's prediction). Without that book, I would not be doing the work I'm doing today. Your support made all the difference. Thanks also to Dr. Cohen for some of the best advice I have ever received. I still remember what he wrote on my term paper: "You have a first-rate mind that deserves a first-rate writing style. Learn what the passive voice is and never use it until you are 83 years old."
I am leaving a lot of important people out. Let me just say that my gratitude extends well beyond this short, all-too-casual list of names. I am grateful to everyone who dedicates their life to a career in teaching. Without our teachers, where would any of us be?
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!