Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?
My challenges are enormous. I grew up in abject poverty in a family plagued by mental illness. My grandfather, who carried my same name, Roy Huff, fought in Korea but suffered PTSD (they called it shell shocked then) as well as bipolar disorder. He took up robbery, was eventually imprisoned for robbing an armored car. On the day he was paroled, he was caught up in a prison riot and killed by a prison guard.
My father, who also suffered from bipolar disorder, was a gay man in the early 80’s. He separated from my mother due to his sexuality, and eventually contracted HIV. He died of AIDS when I was twenty-one.
My mother meant well, but she had her own struggles. She received roughly $250 a month in welfare raising my four sisters and I for much of my childhood, though it was three sisters and myself while growing up.
Before I was six, I lived in a runned down trailer park in Radcliff Kentucky with shoddy wiring and a massive hole in the bathroom floor. I moved to Charlotte when I was six, and lived in an urban ghetto until I graduated high school.
In Charlotte, I had many struggles. I was hit by a car dead-on shortly after my eighth birthday. Miraculously, I ended up in the hospital unharmed.
I suffered through almost nightly gunfire in my neighborhood, including one Christmas Day when someone pulled a gun on me, and stole the Walkman my mother gave me as my present.
Through all that, I kept my eyes on leaving the ghetto and making something out of my life. I was fortunate to mostly stay out of trouble and graduate a year early as Valedictorian and student body president. From there, I moved to Hawaii, where I now reside.
That wasn’t the end of my troubles. I wasn’t able to finish college right away, which I mention in my book. I started businesses and failed. I married, then divorced. I experienced three bankruptcies, and was nearly homeless on one occasion shortly after my divorce. I was fortunate to receive some assistance from the US Vets for a few months until I got back on my feet.
The dire financial straits were a combination of the divorce, bad choices, and the hospitalization of my daughter. It was after that time that I knew I needed to make some changes in my life.
I’d never given up hope. And even after my second bankruptcy, I put steps into motion to change the direction of my life. At age 30, I decided to return to school. Over the next six years, I earned five degrees, including both a Masters in Education and Geosciences. I had the opportunity to work as a research scientist, publish peer reviewed research on the cover of respected worldwide journals. I even had the opportunity to work on the GOES-R grant for NASA/NOAA and watched the launch in 2016.
After the divorce though, I dug deep in the self reflection. I discovered what I lacked was deliberate practice and self reflection. I decided to make significant changes in my life starting with daily reflection as well as gave up fast food and alcohol.
At the time, I’d already published several works of fiction, but the transformation in my life, including losing 44 lbs in 44 weeks, convinced me to write a nonfiction book to help others who’d experienced troubles of their own.
Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
There were so many times. Having people that depend on you and look up to you kept me going. I remember one time in particular, the thought of suicide entered my mind. I had suffered a major business loss and was drowning in debt. I wasn’t planning on killing myself, but I remember thinking about my family getting the life insurance to pay off the debt if I jumped in a Kayak on the coast of Waikiki and drowned myself. I didn’t kill myself, but I did lose my home and filed for bankruptcy, my second at the time.
After that experience, I decided to return to school. I had two years of education but no degree. In January 2007, I returned to school full time. By August 2012 I completed five degrees. I switched careers, and have been working in education and research ever since.
The return to school also kicked off my writing career. I got the inspiration to write my first novel, Everville, while working on my fourth degree. My first published book arrived in January 2013.
Writing has pushed me forward. The desire to touch others with my works, both fiction and nonfiction, inspired me to keep honing my skills and improving myself. It hasn’t always been easy, and there are still times where discouragement tries to creep in, but making a positive change by improving myself and moving forward is extremely motivating.