Miskimon, Robert 1943- (Robert M. Miskimon)

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Miskimon, Robert 1943- (Robert M. Miskimon)


Born August 18, 1943, in Richmond, VA; son of Robert M. Miskimon (a physician) and Elizabeth W. Blanton Starbuck (a sculptor); married Christine Madsen, 1966 (divorced, 1988); married Pamela L. Patton, August 6, 1999; children: (first marriage) Elizabeth, Mae. Ethnicity: "Caucasian (Scotch-Irish)." Education: University of Richmond, B.A., 1966; graduate study at University of Missouri, 1966-67. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Episcopalian. Hobbies and other interests: Jazz, ocean kayaking, reading, cooking.


Agent—Stirling Johnson, 10912 107th Ave. SW, Vashon, WA 98070. E-mail—[email protected].


Former writer and editor for Associated Press and Daily News of the Virgin Islands; former managing editor of various publications, including California Hospitals, Los Altos News, Mountain View News-Herald, Seaside Post News-Sentinel, Carmel Pine Cone/ Carmel Valley Outlook, and Monterey Peninsula Review; Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Monterey, CA, public information officer, 1985-89; California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, Sacramento, director of publications, 1989-91; freelance writer and editor, 1991-95; Providence Seattle Medical Center, Seattle, WA, communications specialist, 1996-98; freelance writer and editor, 1998—. Member of Vashon Island governance committee, 1992-93.


National Writers Union, Society of the Cincinnati, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


First-place awards for news writing from Sigma Delta Chi, 1983, 1985; grant from Authors League of America, 1996; Gold Award, Healthcare Marketing Report, for television spot announcements featuring recovering addicts and alcoholics treated at a California treatment facility.


A Wind Is Rising (novel), Anthelion Press (San Francisco, CA), 1977.

Plastic Jesus (novel), iUniverse (Lincoln, NE), 2000.

What Death Can Touch (novel), Xlibris (Philadelphia, PA), 2000.

La Posada and Other Stories, Xlibris (Philadelphia, PA), 2001.

Skagit (novel), iUniverse (Lincoln, NE), 2002.

Uncovered: The Bare Facts about Nude Recreation (nonfiction), EscapeArtist.com, 2007.

Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including Seattle Times, San Jose Mercury-News, Soundings, Seattle, Puget Sound, Hospitals, Monterey Life, Vashon Island Beachcomber, Monterey Peninsula Herald, and Christian Science Monitor.


Robert Miskimon once told CA: "My primary motivation for writing is to bridge the chasm of loneliness that separates all of us from each other. I believe literature achieves this by providing the reader with a link to our common humanity and suffering, from which the hope, humor and grace that sustains us can grow. Another motivation for writing is to get down on paper and somehow preserve in time a portion of the wonder that is human life. Books, and particularly novels, nurture us by giving us a sense that we are not alone, that others have struggled and somehow prevailed, and by reminding us of our own strengths and weaknesses.

"There have been so many influences on my work—from the ‘greats’ like Keats and Milton to some of my contemporaries who are my friends and whose artistic growth and productivity remain sources of tremendous inspiration and admiration. I believe the most any writer can strive for is to achieve an authentic individual expression—not necessarily a perfect expression, but nonetheless one that is honest and the result of a titanic struggle to achieve perfection. Writing is a process of mining the inner lode of experience and wisdom, and thus can be profoundly personal and universal at the same time.

"My writing process usually begins with a general form or idea of a story line, and a group of characters. As I write, the characters gradually assume a life of their own and take command of the story line to a large extent. Sometimes it's a battle between my original idea of where the story line should go, and where the characters want to take it. So long as no one gets too badly hurt, I usually let the characters inform me of the deficiencies of my plot and follow their advice in amending it as we get better acquainted. By the time the book is finished—after the rewriting, editing, polishing, and second-guessing—I can breathe a sigh of relief as I let it go and start on another project. Once it's born, a novel needs to fend for itself.

"Most of my subjects are drawn from ‘real life.’ I agree with the maxim that one should write what one knows—but not literally. In other words, fiction writing is not journalism, but a fiction writer should have a good journalist's powers of observation, sense of timing, and ability to penetrate beneath surface appearances. I've found that it's often easier to love the fictional characters that I create than some of the real persons I've written about as a journalist. What Death Can Touch was a kind of inevitable work that grew out of the death of my oldest daughter in a terrible accident. In working through my grief and devastation, I hoped to write something of value for myself and others that would remove some of the fear of death and make life seem more precious. Plastic Jesus is a youthful, picaresque journey through time and space, as well as interior space. It's an attempt to simultaneously record an artist's development and encompass a wide swath of the American experience. A Wind Is Rising is the story of a small town on the central coast of California (Carmel) that fights off corporate development from out of state. It's told from the vantage point of the town's newspaper, which leads the local forces opposed to the project.

"My advice to aspiring writers? Write, read, write, read, write, read, write, and read. I'm not terribly impressed with university-sanctioned ‘creative writing’ programs because writing, like jazz, can be learned but not taught. The best teacher is experience."

Miskimon later added, "Reading the Declaration of Independence as a child, I was awestruck with the majesty and dignity of the language. At first, I thought it must have been written by God. Then, when I found out it was written by the God-like Thomas Jefferson, I thought I'd like to write something as terrific."

When asked the question, "Who or what particularly influences your work?" Miskimon answered, "Gore Vidal is probably the best essayist and political thinker in the contemporary American world. Tennessee Williams is the most lyrical and sensitive playwright. Thomas Wolfe is still the greatest American novelist. Edgar Allan Poe is our best poet."

When asked which of his books was his favorite, Miskimon replied, "Skagit, because it comes closest to realizing my initial vision for the novel."