The biggest perk of being a writer?
Trading in ridiculous garb like this for a pair of comfy sweatpants.
Even at sundown, being a stay-at-home dad is serious business. Really.
The short version:
Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.
The long version:
Antony always knew he wanted to be a composer—at least, he did as soon as he took up a variety of musical instruments as a teenager. From then on, it was all about music... at school, every evening, every weekend. But this bio isn't for a composer's website, it's for an author's, which just goes to show how terribly unreliable he is.
He was born in 1972 in England, and grew up in a seaside town called Bournemouth. He spent high school acing arts classes and bombing any class that seemed remotely scientific, but no matter—he was going to be a composer, so it was fine to stink at every science lab the school had to offer.
After high school he studied music at Oxford University—okay, so “studied” is a bit of a stretch, but he had a fantastic few years there. Even the comment on his apparently ungradeable senior thesis (“This is illiterate!”) couldn't dampen his spirit. After all, he was all about writing music, not prose, so really... who cared?
Getting a BA from Oxford was so much fun that he decided to continue his nomadic student existence by spending a year as an exchange student at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. Then, after a year working in a Swiss ski resort—partly to brush up on his French, but mostly to brush up on his skiing—he hopped back to the States and began a Ph.D. in composition (ah, finally!) at Duke University, in Durham, NC.
Duke was wonderful—not just because he got to compose all the time, but also because he met his future wife. He also discovered that the professors there considered him a pretty good writer—not that it was relevant, of course, but, well... it was certainly an eye-opener. Plus, his housemate was studying English, which meant that the conversation frequently turned to books. And for the first time in a while, Antony remembered that he really liked books. In fact, if he wasn't so dead set on being a composer, he might even have tried to write one.
After teaching stints at Duke and the University of South Carolina, Antony and his wife moved to Seattle, where they welcomed their first child. So Antony decided to take a break from music and stay home with his son. And when the baby took naps—which didn't happen very often—he even had a go at writing a novel. It turned out to be pretty awful, but taught him loads about what not to do as a writer. So he tried another novel, called Busted: Confessions of an Accidental Player, and this time his friends told him it didn't completely suck. It was even picked up by an agent, then a publisher, so maybe they were actually being honest.
Busted was released in October 2008, just after Antony and his family moved to St Louis. It was followed, in 2010, by Five Flavors of Dumb, which won the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award, and has been shortlisted for ten state book awards. In 2012 he released Thou Shalt Not Road Trip. The same year, he branched out into fantasy with the first book in the Elemental trilogy; the second installment, Firebrand, arrived in 2013.
Now that his kids are in school, Antony writes full-time. He’s also a regular visitor to schools and book festivals. It’s not exactly composing... but it sure is a lot of fun.