My name is Sean McElhiney. I am an award-winning broadcaster and writer. Okay, truth, I am an award-winning broadcaster and contest-winning writer. In 2007 I won a Golden Microphone from the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters—Air Personality, First Place for The Morning Show with Sean Patrik; in 1999 my screenplay Soul to Keep won first place in the inaugural Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition.
I recently completed my first novel, which I have since put aside. The Apocryphal Life of Ian Gafney is a meandering book about a guy who spends his life trying to figure out what exactly he witnessed when as a six-year-old he watched a man fall up into the sky. In my opinion, the book has its virtues but is deeply flawed. I may pick it up again someday, but for now it’s on a back burner, on very low heat.
Currently I am working on my first-first novel, i.e. the one I never finished and put aside years ago. This one is called The History of Strange and it’s a story I must get out of my system because it has in some form been with me for over thirty years, and it refuses to go away. It was born as an idea about a man named Stanley Strange who feels compelled to create an eponymous town, Strange, a place in New Jersey he calls the Southernmost Point in New England. It grew into a story about a bar and the people who frequent that bar, and it encompasses the life-story of Stanley’s step-grandson—his daughter’s husband’s kid—Duff Damphouse. Enough about that.
My greatest success as a writer so far did not include publication. My screenplay Soul to Keep won the inaugural Scriptapalooza Screewriting Competition in 1999. My second screenplay, What Meets The Eye finished, if I remember correctly, in the top 1000 in the inaugural Project Greenlight screenwriting competition. My third screenplay Come Again? wasn’t very good.
I have had short stories published in the magazine New Times in San Luis Obispo, CA; in the collection Company Time; online in the fabulous e-zine Yellow Mama (“My Mother’s Nymphomaniac,” Yellow Mama); and also online in the now-defunct Parable Press. I have since self-published a slightly different version of that story, “Just Heaven” on Medium.com after Parable Press disappeared. Here’s that link: “Just Heaven.”
I am not inclined to self-publish as a rule, but I may change my mind someday. Too much self-publishing to me feels like a cry for attention, like a kindergartner holding up a drawing for approval. There is value in making it past the Gatekeepers, I think, in someone else investing their time and/or money in my work.
Is Writing Itself a form of self-publishing? Sure. You could argue that it is, but this is quite comfortable for me. Broadcasting and talking about writing. It’s what I like to do. And I hope to give more here than I take.
UPDATE: I will self-publish. I plan on putting out a collection of short stories and perhaps the first part of The History of Strange as e-books and audiobooks. More to come on this.
Here’s some of the other stuff I have done, besides writing: I have worked as a shoe salesman; an office store clerk; an army interrogator and supply clerk; a photo-copier salesman; a waiter; a bartender; an electronic text editor for books on CD-ROM; a magazine editor; a radio news announcer, talk show host, operations manager and morning show host; a town selectman and welfare administrator; and I am currently a crew member at Trader Joe’s. That list is chronological and excludes my high school work in the fast food industry and a stint washing dishes at a convalescent home; it also excludes some forgettable jobs I held briefly as an adult like the few weeks I worked as a bank teller, a sales job selling a customer follow-up program to car dealers, another sales job selling advertising on menus and guidebooks, and more recently a brief stint in the meat department at Costco.
I have also appeared in a number of community theater productions in California and New Jersey. Most memorably, I played the role of Anthony in Sweeney Todd in East Brunswick, NJ when I was in my early twenties; and when I was in my mid thirties I portrayed Sweeney Todd in a production of that show in Arroyo Grande, CA. I hope someday to be cast as Judge Turpin in that wonderful musical. It would complete the trilogy.
Here’s a bit on my education: After graduating from John P. Stevens High School in Edison, New Jersey, I briefly attended Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University as a theater major. I am a graduate of The Academy of Radio Broadcasting in Huntington Beach, California. I have recently begun taking classes at Eastern Gateway Community College in Ohio, online of course. These classes come to me free of charge through my wife's union. I had planned on working toward a degree, but I am now simply taking classes. I can't find a good reason for devoting dozens, even hundreds of hours to math classes that will make no difference in my life.
I am married. I have two adult children and two pugs.