A. Frank Bower
Bewildering Stories biography
A. Frank Bower, a.k.a. Al, is a Connecticut Yankee raised in a rented house on the end road of a housing project. Working class; last of seven children; uncle at age five. Only brother, 16 years older, away in military. Growing up with five sisters negated any chance of becoming overly macho. WASP, but not forced to attend church after Sunday School.
Amorphous sense of self altered when he began high school and met his mentor/best friend, Mike Redican, who painted, played guitar, wrote and dabbled in three-dimensional stop-motion animation, the interest that got them together when Bower heard the name Ray Harryhausen. (The master of the art, mentored by Willis O’Brien of King Kong fame. Modern computer animation has all but buried the form.)
The first book he bought, used, was Ray Bradbury’s collection, The Golden Apples of the Sun. First favorite novel, The Shrinking Man, by Richard Matheson, who was mentored — do we see a pattern? — by Bradbury. During high school, Bower averaged a book a day, starting with SF folks such as Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Sturgeon, Beaumont, J.G. Ballard and Harlan Ellison.
Branched out to most other literary forms, relishing Kafka, Hesse, Jerzy Kozinski, Melville and his fave, Ken Kesey. He read Shakespeare for fun, which led him to try acting once in high school and twice in the Air Farce (not a typo), which he joined to avoid ground-pounding in Vietnam. The Philippines was tough enough; novel forthcoming.
Community college on the G.I. Bill led to a scholarship to Connecticut Wesleyan, majoring in Theatre because he had too many English credits from the c.c. Did a dozen roles between the two schools; two leads. Best performance was in Advanced Acting class: 23 minutes of Virginia Wolfe with student Martha Meade.
Graduated in 1976, a bad time to look for work. Washed pots and pans in a hospital kitchen until becoming a Mental Health Worker in ’80. Met his other half Carol a year later. They both worked in Middletown, so they moved there, where they remain.
Retired April Fool’s Day, 2006 to write and study writing, working part-time jobs to pay bills. Workshopped with Dan Pope, Sari Rosenblatt and Jamie Cat Callan. In summer ’06, Carol Parker invited him to join Poplar Writers, a local group also including Lynn Wilcox and Geof Fowler. They’ve become his greatest resource, harshest critics and indispensable support system, along with his wife.
Bower published shorts in Down in the Dirt twice in ’07, one in summer ’08 in Mature Years; has one in the premiere issue of Lady Jane Miscellany and another Down in the Dirt piece coming in August. He’s in various stages of production on 12 books, one a novel, Midbury, for which Middletown awarded him a grant.
Copyright © 2009 by A. Frank Bower