Ten Fun Facts about Me
By Keir Graff, author of
My name means “dark one” in Scots Gaelic. (It also rhymes with “ear.”) My parents wanted to honor my mom’s Scottish ancestry and learned the name when they saw Keir Dullea in the movie David and Lisa. Seventeen years after I was born, I played the same role as Dullea in a play at my high school. I have met three other Keirs in my life: one was a boy who lived nearby for a brief time while I was growing up; one was a woman working in a Denver hotel (she upgraded me to a suite; we Keirs stick together); and the third is a fellow fan of my favorite soccer team and also lives in Chicago.
I grew up next to a mountain in Missoula, Montana. The neighborhood kids played on the mountain all the time, and when our moms wanted us to come down for dinner, they used different signals. One of them blew a whistle, one of them just yelled, and mine rang a bell.
The hospital I was born in and the grade school I attended have both been torn down and replaced with new buildings that have the same names. My high school is still standing, though: Hellgate High School. It takes its grisly name from a nearby canyon where French trappers found so many human remains that they named it accordingly. Blackfeet Indians ambushed the Bitterroot Salish at the narrow canyon mouths.
I left Missoula a couple of days after I graduated high school, in a van with a band that was passing through town. I had $350 in my pocket. The van broke down the first night and we had to spend most of my money to get it repaired. When we reached San Francisco a few days later, the band broke up. I returned home at the end of the summer with fifty cents in my pocket.
I played in many bands over many years, where I was most often the lead vocalist and guitar player. I wrote hundreds of songs and could almost sing in key. My brother and I once played in a band whose biggest claim to fame was opening for the Flaming Lips in a Mexican restaurant.
I have done many different kinds of writing, from magazine articles, columns, and book reviews to novels, short stories, screenplays, plays, poetry, and one picture book that made my then agent think I’d lost my mind. I think poetry, picture books, and funny fiction are the hardest things to write well.
My first book for adults was published under a fake name. My second one was going to be published under a different fake name—the cover had even been designed—but at the last minute the publisher talked me out of it. I am convinced I will publish more books under more different names but I’m not going to tell you what they are.
I have spent most of my adult life rooting for terrible sports teams. But then the Cubs won the World Series, something I’m still trying to get my head around.
When my wife and I got married, we lived in a basement. When we moved to Chicago, we lived for awhile on the 56th floor of a building designed by our favorite architect—we had dinner parties on a balcony more then 500 feet in the air!
These days I spend most of my time in front of a computer, but if I had my wish, I wouldn’t even own a cell phone. I’d spend more time outdoors and a lot more time in Montana. Reading, writing, running, hiking, and spending time with friends and family is all I really need to be happy.