Mike Stiles, Senior Writer , was born and raised in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. There were ten generations of American farming folk on his father's side, and his mother's own father was off the boat from Ireland. By the time he came along, the farming days were long over, and he grew up in a dirty little paper mill town.
Nonetheless, childhood had its amenities. There were still live broadcasts of local country and bluegrass bands on the radio, which are now sadly gone. By the time he was old enough to start hitching rides (14), he started spending much of his spare time hiking around in the Adirondacks.
The first fantasy/horror story he read was Lovecraft's "Dreams in the Witch House," and he was hooked for life. The Adirondack region brought him into the folk tradition with its wonderful array of storytellers, musicians, poets, mountebanks, sheep lovers, and wastrels. He was lucky enough to learn various fingerpicking styles on the guitar from the legendary Edgar Ievins, a Latvian refugee who somehow landed in his home town before going on to fame and fortune producing Basket Case, Frankenhooker and other fine movies of the cheese variety.
Somehow he lived through nine misdirected years attending Syracuse University in upstate New York, an experience which led to a Ph.D. in Biophysics. His graduate research group was among the first in the world to combine computer technology with artificial intelligence and a direct electrical interface to living nervous systems. However, the clientele for his skills in that field began to really creep him out (mostly government agencies that don't do very nice things at all). After a short stint in the R&D branch of the US Veterans Administration, he dropped the bio part of his degree and started working in the field of sustainable energy and conservation.
Most of his professional efforts over the last five years have been in solar energy technology development. He holds three patents and counting in the field. As an internationally-published scientist in solar energy, he's worked as a technical writer, programmer, and construction laborer to support his R&D habits.
Fortunately, several creative endeavors have kept him sane throughout. In 1997 his wife Trish bought him a copy of Narada's *Celtic Odyssey* for his birthday. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with Irish Music Addiction Syndrome. 2001 saw the release of a self-produced CD with his band The New Adirondack Guides; they do folk, bluegrass, blues, acoustic jazz, and of course Celtic music.
He's always looking to meet new friends. Drop him a line, especially if you're travelling through upstate New York and would like to drop in and say hi.