A brief introduction…
From the time I was small, I loved to read and write. I wrote poems for my grandmother and songs for myself. As a sophomore in high school, I won a contest to have a poem published in an anthology of U.S. high school poets. It was a seminal moment.
A few years later, I was admitted to the collegiate poetry and short story club, Scribblerus. I was dedicated to the purpose of the club: to read and critique others’ work in the club and submit works for critique by others. We met every week, and the honing of my craft began in earnest. I graduated magna cum laude from Greenville University with a BA in Philosophy and Religion.
I attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in 2018 where I was awarded the Foundations First Runner-Up for Best Children’s Picture Book. My debut book, Under the Dancing Tree, from Elk Lake Publishing will be in stores in 2019.
Why were you named Chip?
My real first name is Charles. I like the name Charles. It was my dad’s name and his dad’s name too. The reason I’m named Chip instead of Charles, Charlie, Chuck, Chaz, or Chuckie is because those were all nicknames my dad used. My mom always said that when she yelled for one of us, we should know who was in trouble.
I don’t know if you have a nickname that gets made fun of, but growing up it was hard being named Chip. I got picked on a lot by other kids. I was called lots of stuff like: Chips Ahoy, Chocolate Chip, Chipmunk, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Chipster, Chipmeister, and a bunch of others. I hated it. But by the time was in high school the name calling had stopped, and I was glad I was named Chip. I felt I had earned it. So when a teacher asked me when I would stop being called Chip because it sounded too childish I just smiled and said, “Never. I earned this name, so I’m keeping it.”
What are your favorite books?
I love all kinds of books. It’s hard to pick just a few favorites, but here are books that have made a difference in my life and have shaped my writing.
Where did you grow up?
I was raised on a small family farm in Central Illinois.
What was your childhood like?
Looking back on my childhood, I was really blessed to have great parents. My dad was an elementary school teacher who loved to play softball, tinker with farm machines, and get outside into nature. My mom was a pioneer for working women. Women were not typically the breadwinners in the early 1980s, but by the time I was born she was already earning twice what my dad did as a teacher.
Since both my parents worked outside the home, my grandmother cared for my sisters and me. She was such an interesting woman. A child from a broken home, she was raised by her grandparents during the depression. She was artistic and full of spunk.
Where do you get your inspiration?
When I write, I think a lot about my family. Whether it’s my parents and grandparents who have been gone many years now or my wife and three kids, I am deeply inspired by those around me. I am also a Christian, so I get a lot of my inspiration for writing from my faith.
If you look around my blog, you’ll notice a lot of posts about what it means to be a Christian. I have spent a lot of time thinking about my faith both in college and since. In the last few years I have been a lay pastor on a church plant and a volunteer leader. I currently contribute to Faith Beyond Fear as a regular writer.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I have been influenced by a lot of people. I recommend everyone have a mentor no matter how old you are. There is always something you can learn from another person who is wiser and more experienced. In my life the biggest influences have been my family (parents, grandparents, sisters, wife, and kids), my pastors (Danny Schaffner, Jason Smith, and Mac McElhaney), and my friends. Without the support of people who loved me, I would not be who I am today.