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Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I grew up in the Sandia and Rocky Mountains. An avid outdoorsman, I spent a lot of time camping and working with the Boy Scouts of America. As a boy, I had little interest or time for school, which was a distraction from camping, hiking, and reading. In books, I visited worlds of science and vast, mysterious technologies and races. I traveled to the arctic tundra in the company of White Fang, hearing the Call of the Wild.

When in the real world, I was in the mountains of Colorado, or exploring the pages of an encyclopedia, exploring strange vistas and fascinating characters from the topography and history of my world; or gazing at the grandeur of nebulae and galaxies beyond reach, but not imagination.

These were my drugs, my addiction, and my abstraction from reality. I read walking home from school. I read late into the night. When I should have been in school studying, I was reading anything I could get my hands on. Coincidentally, I gained a more diverse education than most of my peers. It was only natural that I would want to write one of those marvelous vessels of the imagination.

I took that opportunity in 2009, when I was laid off because of the economic downturn. I wrote my first book, The Rune that Binds, and submitted it to several publishers. It caught the attention of Peter Stampfel and Betsy Wolheim at DAW, but they eventually declined to offer me a contract.

Running low on money, and because of the reception and feedback I got from Betsy and Peter, I decided to self-publish. The book did well, selling enough copies to keep the lights on and qualify for a full membership in the SFWA.

I’ve loved reading since I was a little boy, and though we tend to think that the realm of make-believe is the exclusive realm of children, it is also the realm of writers and readers.

Children own it more wholly than adults. For us it is only an escape, but for a child, make-believe simply IS. When children make-believe, they’re not pretending to be something they’re not. They become what they play at. They are Spiderman or Harry Potter. For them, the iteration of imagination is absolute. 

They do not play to escape the drudgery of life, as adults do. We have forgotten how to imagine with the whole of our being. The rare exception to that is a book. When we read, it is with whole abandon. When we open a book, we can shut out the world and imagine the way we did when we were children. 

I prefer to make-believe the way children do. It’s how I write, and it’s how I hope people will read my stories.

J.D. Goff

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