The following is an auto-biography from Across Town: Stories of Columbus featured author Justin Nicholas Hanson. Across Town is available here for $9.35.
Justin’s drama “Old, Young Men” appears in the most recent CCC anthology,Across Town: Stories of Columbus. This serious, intelligent story is a wonderful contribution to the Across Town collection.
Stories have always filled my life. They fuel my understanding of the world around me and my place within it. An imaginative child, I frequently lost myself in worlds of fantasy on the page and on the screen. The Hobbit was the first book to consume me; it was followed by the fantasies and adventures of Rowling, Pullman, Dumas, and Lewis, along with the rest of Tolkien’s oeuvre. Just as I consumed reams of books and hours of film, I also developed an interest in spinning tales of my own and began writing stories when I was just a child.
Although I count “Old, Young Men” as my first publication of literary value, I first published a story when I was a boy of eight, a story featured in a collection of very young writers. I vaguely recall it had something to do with a time machine and dinosaurs, with the kind of convoluted, whimsical narrative that only an eight-year-old can conjure.
My parents saw that I enjoyed writing and encouraged me. They sent me to the Thurber House for its children’s writing camp and also encouraged me to act in youth plays, which I helped write in collaborative efforts—luckily none of us, at ten-years-old, possessed authorial egos to lead to blows over creative content. I showed promise and continued my involvement in writing activities, sometimes to the disbelief of others (a famous family story involves a 6th grade teacher who insisted I’d plagiarized a story for a class assignment, which delighted me as I had indeed authored the work).
In high school, my writing dwindled for other activities: sports, competitive weight lifting, and a variety of extracurriculars occupied me while my creative side lay dormant. But my creativity was reawakened at The Ohio State University. In a beginner creative writing class, a professor rekindled my love of writing, and I’ve been at it ever since. Said professor, Manuel Martinez—gifted author, mentor, and friend—became my faculty adviser, and we keep a close friendship today. My interest in writing was so renewed that I changed my major from History to English, making the best decision of my college career.
As an English major, I met a brilliant group of passionate young writers—including fellow anthology writer Bill Hallal (“Suicide Guys”)—who welcomed me with open arms. While at OSU, I sought out the finest professors to learn from: I studied narrative under renowned critic James Phelan, and I learned the craft of storytelling from Lee K. Abbott, one of finest short story writers in contemporary fiction. Along with my creative writing, I undertook a considerable academic writing project concerning a 1970s civil rights journal called The Body Politic, from which I hope to publish a portion in an academic journal. In that project, I encountered the thrills of journalism and the immense responsibility of writing history.
Since graduating, I’ve worked some odd jobs during a year I intend to spend out in the world living and writing before returning to school for an advanced degree. Although my childhood imagination was awakened by works of fantasy, as a writer I’m a committed realist who bases my stories in a world as true to form as I can render.
My story “Old, Young Men” ruminates on feelings of personal identity within contemporary society and the American Dream. One finds similar themes in the work of Henry Miller, Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and in films by Elia Kazan, Mike Nichols, and Copolla, to name just a few, all of whose art on such themes has fascinated me. The story is quite personal, filling itself with scenes and characters from my eclectic Columbus life. I hope the reader enjoys the tale and finds it worthwhile.
Currently, I’m working on three stories that are all in various stages of development: a story of a broken marriage, a story of lost love returned, and a story about an underworld brawler for the 1970s mafia.
My current favorite writers include T.C. Boyle, Richard Russo, Michael Chabon, and Cormac McCarthy as well as my comrades from CCC. Some of my favorite writers of the past include: Will Durant, Hemingway, R.W. Emerson, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tolstoy.
Happy reading and writing.
Across Town: Stories of Columbus is now available for sale in paperback for only $9.35, and in a variety of e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Google Books for $4.99. The book is available for Amazon Kindle for $2.99 for a limited time. Click here to order.