I’ve always enjoyed balancing the technical and creative in my life, which accounts for my two parallel careers.
The first is an engineer and the founder of Alcorn McBride Inc, the company that makes audio, video and control products for nearly all the world’s theme parks.
The second is an online writing instructor and founder of Writing Academy, where I’ve taught more than 30,000 aspiring authors how to structure their manuscripts.
Of course, my most important career is as a husband and father.
My wife is Linda Alcorn, who during 37 years with Walt Disney Imagineering designed the control systems for Disney parks in California, Florida, and Paris.
My daughter is Dani Alcorn, a Chicago-based screenwriter and Chief Operating Officer at Writing Academy.
One of the things our family loves to do is travel together. We try to plan at least one major trip each year. I’ve visited 6 continents, 40 countries, and 46 states! You can read about our travels here.
Part of travel is trying regional foods, which ties in with my interest in restaurants. I post a lot on yelp, and keep two dining blogs, forkingorlando and forkingchicago.
When we’re not traveling I live in Florida, near Disney World (of course!).
Linda and I are originally from Los Angeles, but we enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere, lighter traffic and better air quality of Orlando, and have lived here since 1989. As two engineers, we wanted to design our own house, and incorporated lighting control systems and other technology that were uncommon back then.
We also have a condo in Chicago in the same building as Dani, and often visit her there. We enjoy Chicago (in the summer, anyway!) with its hundreds of interesting restaurants, the Chicago Art Institute, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and The Loop.
It was great fun being in Chicago when the Cubs won the World Series after a 100+ year drought. We could hear the commotion on all sides as the game finished. The parade the next day, with its hundreds of thousands of celebrants, was amazing.
I’ve never been a sports fan, but it was certainly energizing to be in the midst of it. We took the opportunity to visit the Art Institue in Millenium Park. It was a bit surreal to be in the nearly empty galleries as the throngs of revelers streamed past.
Of course, since I’m a writer I’m also an avid reader. I enjoy nearly all kinds of non-fiction, and I like fiction with strong protagonists. That’s why I’m so fond of Young Adult novels, which often strike me as some of the best writing being done today. I think reading fiction is a particularly good way to learn and retain facts, so the historical novel is one of my favorite genres. You can follow my reading lists and reviews at Goodreads.
I’m also interested in other arts. As a teenager, I had my own rock group and recording studio, and still occasionally compose music for fun (although my composing tools have certainly changed in 40 years). You can find some of my music here.
I also love to draw, paint and sculpt. I wouldn’t say I’m that great at it, but I find it relaxing, and sculpture is oddly easier for me than working on a flat surface.
And of course I’ve been taking photographs all my life. These days my phone takes better photos than I could ever have imagined, but back in the 70s and 80s I studied Ansel Adams’ zone system and experimented with many different formats.
Some would say I have too many interests, and it certainly keeps me going. But I love the exploration, and often my pursuits in one area lead to inspiration in another.
And that’s what life is all about.