Austin graduated from the University of Arizona in 2000 with a degree in Wildlife (seriously…Wildlife Biology). Later that year he successfully appealed his only parking ticket. David Copperfield once made him dissappear in front of 2,000 people at Caesar’s Palace, but he found his way back. He has appeared in two movies: The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and The Postman with Kevin Costner (Huzzah!). Starting in 2001, he served a three-year stint in the Peace Corps in Honduras. While saving the world, he freaked out way too much about colorful birds and made lots of hideous tortillas. Upon returning to the States in 2004, he served as the campaign manager for a U.S. Congressional bid.
From 2004 – 2011 Austin worked as a professional community organizer in Sacramento, California. He spearheaded several comprehensive strategies to reduce youth violence in the Sacramento region. He met with important people all the time and always got what he wanted by headbutting them. Out of many worthwhile accomplishments, he is particularly proud of a successful campaign to remove the name of a sordid Sacramento eugenicist from a county park and a middle school (the school was renamed Rosa Parks). Once his wife completed her PhD in Ecology at UC Davis, they quickly vacated to the Hawaiian Islands, where they set up shop for a year in the rainy town of Hilo on the Big Island.
In Hawaii, it was his turn to go back to school while his wife earned the paycheck. He completed his Master’s degree in Tropical Conservation Biology in the spring of 2013. In the spring of 2012, Austin won a competitive and prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship for his work on rare Hawaiian plants and their non-native bird pollinators.
Meanwhile, Austin and his wife have been successfully raising two awesome kids that seem to have been given to us as gifts for something they must have done really well in past lives.
For the past ten years Austin has been constantly writing. Novels, screenplays, picture books, short stories, essays (and a thesis, urgh!). He writes because he has to, but he has long dreamed of seeing his own published works on the shelves of bookstores and libraries.
While in Hawaii, Austin wrote a YA disaster/survival novel with sci-fi elements cover to cover in less than three months, knowing that something was very different about this particular manuscript. (He had always thought his writing was the real deal–but trust him–something really felt different this time.) He sat on the rough draft for a while and then polished the book to a nice glossy sheen over the spring and summer of 2012. Less than two months after starting the query process for “The Islands at the End of the World,” he landed a great agent at one of the best literary agencies in the world.
Then came 12.12.12. The day he got “the call.” ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, sold, to Wendy Lamb of Random House, in a two book deal.
The journey was tough. He knows how heartbreaking the quest for publication is, and in addition to promoting his works, one of his principal aims is to be a guiding light for other prospective authors out there. He made a lot of mistakes that unnecessarily lengthened his time in the wilderness, and he learned so much along the way. He hopes he can pay this knowledge forward as he enters this exciting new phase of his writing career.
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