James Downey bio

This is what it says about me in the "About the Author" bit in Communion of Dreams:

James Downey has written for numerous blogs, websites, magazines and newspapers.  His 2001 performance art project "Paint the Moon" (inspired by dialogue found in chapter nine of this novel) received considerable worldwide attention.  He is a frequently-cited authority on handgun ballistic performance (see "Ballistics By The Inch").  And he is a highly respected conservator of rare books and documents (see "Legacy Bookbindery").  He was co-author of an Alzheimer's care-giving memoir (Her Final Year), and if you dig around a bit online you'll find out all kinds of things about him.  And he is an all-around hell of a nice guy.  This is his first novel.

But that's kinda boring.  Oh, it's all true.  But a bit boring.

The truth is, I've had an . . . odd . . . life.  For complete information about that, check out my various blogs and websites.  There's even a Wikipedia entry on me.  But here's a non-boring thumbnail sketch of it:

I was orphaned at the age of 13; my dad was a cop killed on the job when I was 11, then my mom died in a car accident about 18 months later.  My sister and I went to live with an aunt & uncle, who were kind, considerate, and loving – but you can imagine what kind of rocky adolescence I had.

Grinnell College (class of 1980) helped turn me into something resembling a human being.  Then I worked for a few years before going to grad school at the University of Iowa.  Initially I wanted to attend the Writer's Workshop, but came to realize that the level of angst there was just too much for me, so I entered the MA English program.  Which put me in the right position to stumble into something new called the Iowa Center for the Book, which taught me to be a book conservator.

All through college and then grad school I was heavily involved in a historical recreation group which goes by the name of the Society of Creative Anachronism.  That did even more to turn me into something resembling a human being, and I met many friends and my lovely wife there.  (If you know about the SCA and want to look me up, I was Thomann Shadan Secarius.  Yeah, him.  Sorry.)

I mentioned the book conservator thing.  It’s how I have more or less supported myself over the years, and I'm actually quite good at it.  For about 8 years I also was part of an incredible gallery of fine art – the largest in the state of Missouri.  That was wonderful in many ways, but a bit of a financial debacle.

Following that, I was primary care-provider for my mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer's.  I think that actually more or less completed my lessons in what it meant to be a decent human being, though of course we all need the occasional reminder.

And through it all, I've been trying to understand what it means to be a writer.  For a while I was a newspaper columnist, writing about the arts.  Then I wrote Communion of Dreams.  Then I started blogging about my efforts to get it published.  Then I started writing about being a care-provider for someone with Alzheimer's.  Then that turned into co-authoring Her Final Year.  And most recently I have been doing a lot of writing (features and reviews) for Guns.com

Oh, yeah, see, that's something else.  I got involved in this fairly nutty ballistics research project with a couple of friends.  And that turned into this huge thing called Ballistics By The Inch.  Yeah, it's pretty insanely popular.  And we have a good time with it.

That gets me to where I am today.  Oh, it misses all the little stuff – travels, travails, broken bones and broken hearts.  But you can find that stuff on your own if you're really interested.

I do want to say to my (still) lovely wife, and all my friends and acquaintances: thanks for putting up with me, and for making it an interesting journey.