I have been telling stories for as long as I can remember, in any format that I can. I’ve performed on stage, told stories off the top of my head to entertain my friends, run RPG campaigns in multiple systems, and of course have been writing for most of that time as well. Storytelling has been one of the constants in my life over the years, that along with a strong passion for gaming. I’ve been playing board and video games since the old Apple IIe days and back when I could barely manage to roll dice and count the number of steps to move.
Outside of writing and gaming, I am a bit of a science and computer geek. That’s probably not terribly surprising. I graduated from MIT in 2000 with two degrees: one in Computer Science and one in Biology. I’ve been fortunate in that my degrees have opened some amazing doors, including spending time working at Microsoft and contributing to the development of the Xbox One. Talk about a dream for a gamer!
I have studied martial arts and continue to do so. These days I study stage combat with the Seattle Knights and practice Systema with North Sound Systema. I can truly say that stage combat, if done well, is at least as hard and requires at least as much skill as dojo training. I have been performing with them for several years now and have learned how to joust. If you're in the Pacific Northwest, come to a show! As for Systema, it is an amazing martial art that I just can't get enough of and has started to bleed into my daily life and ways of doing things.
When I catch a moment to breathe I usually spend my time playing Ultimate, role-playing games, video games, and board games. I have an account on Board Game Geek and keep track of my game collection there as well as post game reviews.
I'm a self-admitted adrenaline junkie and crave adventure. Some of my adventures include hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, spending a week in the Boundary Waters, being a rock climbing guide, and attempting to ascend Mt. Rainier. My resume is a bit varied with everything from working in a biological research laboratory, to testing Implantable Cardiac Devices (ICDs), to working as a veterinary technician at an animal emergency hospital. I've always wanted to do a little bit of everything. Plus, it all gives me a great basis of experiences to pull into my writing.
I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, and to that end I feel the need to mention I learned the art from my mother, Janina Birtolo. She's one of the most successful freelance writers in Southwest Florida and has won numerous awards that demonstrate her skill. Recently she's been involved in writing and acting out her one-woman plays.