I have been writing for the better part of my life.  It was just relatively recently that I started sharing with people that I didn’t grow up with.  All of my earliest stuff was about where  I grew up, a little place in Texas called Merkel.

This continued when I wrote my first full length movie script.  It was about two kids growing up in Texas who ultimately didn’t end up together but always meant the world to eachother.  The main character, Nick Brody, was the son of Jack and Diane.  This was an obvious tip of the hat to the song Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp.  I liked the idea of writing the next generation of that love story.

The song Jack and Diane was really the first love story I remember hearing and it was definitely the first one I could somewhat relate to.  I, too, grew up in the heartland.  One day, when I was still an impressionable youth I went to Walmart and bought a John Cougar Mellencamp TAPE.  Not a CD, a cassette tape.

I spent the rest of the day driving around Colorado Springs, Colorado, listening to hits like Hurt So Good and Small Town.  Mellencamp completely encapsulated what it meant to grow up in the small Texas town I yearned to be in.

It would take me years to write that script that I ultimately threw away when my attempt to move to LA and be a famous writer blew up in my face rather quickly.  I quickly regretted that move but I was about to go through the roughest patch of my life.

The next few years I was unknowingly manic and mentally ill.  A lot of my writing has covered this time in my life so I won’t go into great detail but when I got out of the mental hospital years later I made myself a promise.

I wanted to get back to sharing my stories and not letting things build up in my head like they had been.  For some reason, I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to use my actual name.  It was just lacking something, not to say that I don’t love my name it just wasn’t right for this endeavor.

I thought back to that script that I wrote and how much it meant to me.  I remembered the characters Jack and Diane and just how grounded the story felt to me in my own life.  For better or worse, when I remember my childhood, John Cougar Mellencamp is singing in the background.

Ever since that first book, I’ve instinctively gone by the faux middle name Cougar.  It is simply my way of staying true to my writing roots.  If you notice, all my stories take place in Texas.  That isn’t on accident.  Like the Cougar himself, I want to tell stories about people like me.  I think in this day and age everyone can use a little more down home stories.

There’s a pace to living in Texas in the early nineties that I want to keep in my writing.  I’d like to say Texas is still that way but unfortunately we went and got ourselves in a hurry somewhere along the way.

Anyway, that’s why I go by the name Cougar.  If you haven’t heard the original Cougar in awhile I implore you to change that.  I’m listening right now and feel like I’m back at home sitting on my childhood front porch watching my dad and brother playing catch with my mom sitting by my side.  Yall have a great day!

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