Now what about me?

I have always been fascinated by writing. In my childhood days in the 1950s and 1960s, I often stayed up far past my bedtime reading science fiction; even in adulthood, if you came across me in my off-hours, I was more likely to be found reading a book than doing virtually anything else.

After college, I got into programming more or less by accident; I was working at an actuarial consulting firm, and was selected to take charge of programming on their timesharing terminal, because I was making much less than most of the other employees. Finding the programming itself to be more interesting than the actuarial calculations, I decided to become a professional programmer.

Until 1984, I remained on the consuming side of the writing craft. Then one day I was reading a magazine article on some programming-related topic and said to myself, "I could do better than that". With encouragement from my friends, I decided to try my hand at technical writing. My first article submission, to the late lamented Computer Language Magazine, was published, as were a dozen more over the next ten years.

But although writing magazine articles is an interesting pastime, writing a book is something entirely different. I got my chance at this new level of commitment when Harry Helms, then an editor for Academic Press, read one of my articles in Dr. Dobb's Journal and wrote me a letter asking whether I would be interested in writing a book for AP. I answered, "Sure, why not?", not having the faintest idea of how much work I was letting myself in for.

By the time the second edition of that book, entitled Efficient C/C++ Programming, came out, I was hard at work on my next book, Who's Afraid of C++, which is designed to make object-oriented programming intelligible to anyone from the sheerest novice to the programmer with years of experience in languages other than C++. To make sure that my exposition was clear enough for the novice, I posted a message on Compuserve requesting the help of someone new to programming. The responses included one from a woman named Susan Spino, who ended up contributing a great deal to the book; in fact, about 100 pages of the book consist of email between Susan and myself. Her contribution was wonderful, but not completely unexpected.

What was unexpected was that Susan and I would fall in love during the course of this project, but that's what happened. Since she lived in Texas and I lived in New York, this posed some logistic difficulties. The success of my previous book now became extremely important, as it was the key to my becoming a full-time writer. Writers have been "telecommuting" since before the invention of the telephone, so my conversion from "programmer who writes" to "writer" made it possible for me to relocate to her area, which I promptly did, in January 1996.

Since that time, we've both been hard at work on further books, so far including The C++ Training Guide and Introduction to C++. Our most recent book is Who's Afraid of Java?, which takes the same approach to Java as Who's Afraid of C++? does to C++, complete with Susan's inimitable questions and my answers.

Susan and I were married on June 7th, 1997.


An essay about a reunion at my alma mater, Shimer College
My resume/CV
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Where I write