JACKET BIO: Oren Hammerquist is a native of Washington State. He holds a BA in criminal justice with a certificate in paralegal studies from the American Military University. He is currently completing an MA in English and creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University. He also served in Afghanistan. He has published two novels, Murphy’s Second Death and Savage Animals as well as a collection of short stories titled More Than Love, Less Than Life available this September. His poetry and fiction (including the Pushcart Prize nominated “Desert Daddy”) has appeared in several anthologies and journals available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other outlets. He is married with three children and currently resides in Germany.
I have lived all across the western half of the state (though not on the peninsula). Western Washington and the Puget Sound area are beautiful, and no matter what state I have ended up in, I still call that home. We have snow-capped mountains, sunny beaches (yes, there is sun in Washington State), good hunting, active volcanoes watersports, professional and various minor league sports, giant octopus, fascinating and complex culture, Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain, Bill Gates, and Jimmi Hendrix.
My father and his wife still live in Western Washington where they sell real estate. I have no brothers or sisters, and my mother passed away in 2004. My immediate family is very small, but I have grandparents, uncles, cousins and in-laws scattered across the country–mostly west of the Continental Divide.
I worked in a variety of jobs when I was younger: painter, cleaner, grocery store clerk, window washer, clothing store assistant manager, and shoe store floor leader. I did these jobs with skill levels varying from adequate to poor. In my mid-twenties, I decided that my life was not going where I wanted it to. I wanted to go to college, but I could not afford it.
I decided to join the Army. I was going to travel the world.
I went to the Seattle MEPS (that’s where you enlist) and shipped off to basic training and AIT. Six months later, I was stationed at Fort Lewis, forty-five miles from where I was born.. Essentially, I had joined the Army to travel the world, but only seen Oklahoma so far.
In 2009, I deployed to Afghanistan with the 3-17 Field Artillery Battalion. We were attached to the 1-17 Infantry Battalion, with whom I had the honor to serve. It was a unique experience that greatly affected my outlook on the world and my country. It also is one of two major sources of inspiration for my writing as well as a source of real-world experience so needed by a sheltered young man.
Of course, the best thing that happened when I joined the Army and got sent home is that I met my beautiful wife. She has put up with quite a lot from someone who missed two and a half of the first five years, and went away for a year leaving her with two four-month-old babies. I am a father of twin girls and one younger girl, who is cute and goofy. Like all fathers of three girls, I bought a shotgun soon after, and keep my practice up to make sure I can hit a moving target–meaning clay pigeons of course.
During this time (and while raising three kids) I earned an associate degree from Pierce Community College. Since I was just taking whatever classes seemed interesting, I ended up with a degree in liberal arts. I next earned a bachelor of arts in criminal justice and an undergraduate certificate in paralegal studies from American Military University. I am currently completing my master of arts in English and creative writing with a concentration in fiction with Southern New Hampshire University. I am on track to graduate summa cum laude, and I am a member of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor society, Golden Key International, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and SALUTE Veterans Honor society (Gold Member) as well as a Peer Leader at my school’s social media site.
Writing has been a life-long passion and dream if not a natural talent. It was not until my thirties that I seriously began pursuing writing. Regardless, I grew up in a family that loved to read. When I married, I married a woman who is almost as much of a geek as I am. We are huge fans of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Eureka, and dozens more. We are especially fond of the forgotten shows such as Babylon 5, Andromeda, Seaquest, and Farscape. My wife is the anime lover, but I am the novel lover. Dune, Starship Troopers, and Ringworld are three of my favorite books. I could name a dozen other sci-fi novels I love. Most of my writing falls into this genre.
I would say writing is slightly more than a hobby, but much less than a career. Like many, I dream of the days that I can live off of the royalties from my best-selling novel. If only one person remembers my book after I die, then my writing meant something, and I succeeded. It’s not about the money: A statement that is easy to make when you aren’t making much money.