Michael Varhola, a published author and former MSU Denver student, thinks that not everyone is cut out to be a writer, but if the passion is there one should follow it.
Born in Erie, Pa., Varhola’s military family moved to Greece shortly after his birth. Moving around a lot gave Varhola a taste for travel.
After finishing high school at Carson Long Military Institute in New Bloomfield, Pa., Varhola realized that he did not enjoy being in a classroom. He lived in Denver for a year working in the oil industry and then joined the Army. Varhola stayed in the service for eight years, two of which were spent in the former West Germany. When he returned to the states he decided it was time to give college a try and, at a friend’s recommendation, he started classes at Metro State in Denver. Although he only attended from 1987 to 1988, Varhola had good things to say about his time at MSU Denver.
“I remember it as a positive experience, and I remember it as an experience that encouraged me to stay in college and end up getting a degree,” Varhola said.
Varhola credits most of this encouragement to a professor in the English department named Larry Langton, saying that the nurturing environment of Langton’s classroom is a large part of the reason he decided to stay in college.
Realizing that he could use his GI money anywhere, Varhola transferred to the American University at Paris for three semesters as a European cultural studies major.
“That meant that I got to take my art classes in the Louvre once in a while,” Varhola said. “That meant that I got to study the literature that was written at the bars that we were going to; just a really a cool immersive experience. Different from Denver, academically not better, but certainly different.”
It was in Paris that Varhola says he was bitten by the writing bug. When he returned to the states, he graduated in 1993 from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has since authored and co-authored non-fiction, gaming, and travel books. Still the traveler, he frequently posts in his own travel blog.
Varhola is now the writer of a new book called “Swords of Kos: Necropolis,” the first in his new fantasy fiction series. The series is different because instead of having interwoven or chronological sagas, the characters of each book have their own independent stories, but they all live in the same world. Varhola considers the genre to be swords and sorcery, and says that unlike high fantasy stories where the characters are off to save the world, these characters are much more approachable because they’re just trying to pay the rent.
Writing in all these different types of genres is not drastically different according to Varhola. A writer just needs to use their own writing tool box. For example, his characters are based on his own experiences as a soldier, a traveler and a writer. The scenes Varhola describes are often based on places from his home in Texas or in Europe.
Varhola encourages those with writing talent to stop procrastinating and to pursue their dreams.
“People who are inclined to be writers really just need to follow their passion and not make excuses for why they’re not doing it,” Varhola said.