As a child of the 80’s, I grew up watching Star Wars, reading about Hobbits, and playing Dungeons & Dragons. Only later did I realize how much second- and third-hand mythology I was soaking up.
In developing Star Wars, George Lucas relied heavily on the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell, who studied world cultures to derive a prototypical “hero’s journey” from ancient times that is still being used in movies, tv, RPGs, and video games today.
In developing Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkein used Germanic, Celtic, Finnish, Slavic, and Greek mythology and literature as a base for the places, people, and events of his fantasy world. Tolkein’s work then inspired generations of authors and an entire genre of epic fantasy that I devoured.
In developing Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax turned the epic fantasy genre into an immersive, player-controlled environment with proudly displayed mythological roots. Deities and Demigods, a gaming manual from AD&D First Edition, still sits on my shelf today. My halfling was a cleric of Athena.
It was shocking to later realize that so much modern culture had its roots in traditional literature, and I knew I had to get closer to that source in order to create my own work.
My Favorite Childhood Authors
- Douglas Adams
- J.R.R. Tolkein
- Isaac Asimov
- Frederic Brown
- Madeleine L’Engle
- Ray Bradbury
- Terry Pratchett
- Piers Anthony
In college, I wrote for and edited Event Horizon, the University of Pennsylvania’s speculative fiction magazine. My writing improved as I worked with talented staff members to review and edit student submissions and exclusive works by the likes of Buzz Aldrin and Isaac Asimov.
During my tenure, we released a shared-world anthology called Starship Alethea, about a gigantic spaceship that was one part scientific research vessel, one part military flagship, and one part luxury cruise ship.
My primary character was the ship’s librarian, who had a dark and tragic past. I also wrote about a security guard who had a dark and tragic past. And my third character was an Amazon warrior transplanted from a Bronze Age culture.
It may have been that I was already recontextualizing mythological elements and making them my own, or it may have been that I was a big fan of Louise Jameson’s character from Tom Baker’s run as Doctor Who. I can’t remember which.
Superguy and Mythic Heroes
During law school and afterward, Greg participated in the legendary superhero parody project, Superguy. Among Greg’s stories was one that revolved around Sal the Garbageman, the absolute and uncontested ruler of the world and all-around nice guy. That story formed the basis of Greg’s first published novel, The Penguins of Doom. Greg also led a number of Superguy writers to publish an internationally-distributed print magazine called “Mythic Heroes,” which explored the superhero genre in contemporary and historic contexts.
The Tokyo Experience
As part of his law school experience, Greg spent five months in Tokyo, attending classes on the history, culture, and legal system of Japan. He took every opportunity to explore Tokyo on foot and by train, and became a fixture at a local tea house. He also worked in Temple University Japan’s writing lab, helping Japanese speakers with their English-language assignments. The area in and around Greg’s Takadanobaba apartment forms the basis for Daiki Shindo’s neighborhood in “Galaxy Games.”
The Writing Community
Greg is active in the children’s literature community, serving since 2001 as Webmaster and Assistant Regional Coordinator for the three New England regions of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In 2006 he founded the Class of 2k7 group of debut children’s and young adult authors and served as mentor for follow-up groups including the Class of 2k8, Class of 2k9, Class of 2k10, Class of 2k11, and upcoming Class of 2k12 and Class of 2k13. He also served as co-director for the 2010 New England SCBWI regional conference, “Moments of Change,” and the 2011 conference, “Celebrating Milestones.”
A lawyer by day and author by night, Greg fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and fun. He and his wife live in the Boston area with their two daughters and two cats of varying temperaments. Also sometimes a fish or two.