When James graduated from high school he was reading, writing and spelling less than a third grade level. This despite the best efforts of the educational system, which had him enrolled in special reading programs for the entire 12 years. James thought at the time of graduation that he was "uniquely flawed" and had fooled or manipulated the school system for 12 years. At age 20, following graduation from a technical college and still reading, writing and spelling less than a third grade level James was diagnosed as severely dyslexic by his future tutor C Wilson Anderson. In a five-year period, using the Orton Gillingham approach, Wilson brought James from a third grade reading level, a non-reader to college level.
Today James is a Registered Occupational Therapist practicing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. He holds both a Bachelors and Masters Degrees. James' Masters Thesis/Position Paper was published following his graduation as a book titled "The Runaway Learning Machine".
James went on to write two more books "Too Much Time on Sycamore Street" and "Do You Know How to Pick Berries". "Too much time on Sycamore Street" is a self-help book written from one dyslexic person to another. "Do You Know How to Pick Berries" is based upon a true story which took place in 1967 between a high school student with dyslexia and a young man, with Down Syndrome, placed in a Minnesota State Hospital by commitment. James has spoken throughout the upper Midwest on the topic of dyslexia as well as in Canada, Brazil, England, Luxembourg and Hawaii. He has also facilitated support groups and weekend retreats for dyslexic adults. The play The Runaway Learning Machine, has just enjoyed a successful run in Minnesota through The Children's Performing Arts / Hanifl Center for Performing Arts October 2019.
- Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
The Runaway Learning Machine initially was my Masters Thesis/Position Paper as a graduate student in Human Development at the University of St. Mary's. I have dealt with the issues of dyslexia since my first collision with the educational system on the first day of first grade.
The writing of The Runaway Learning Machine, allowed me to look at my lifelong challenges closely, putting them in order and dealing with them. An additional objective was to bring awareness to dyslexia and to empower those others with dyslexia. Following my graduation, my book was published. It was later discovered by The History Theatre, St. Paul Minnesota and written into a play. It debuted at the Lyric Art/Main Street Stage, Anoka Minnesota in 2005. In 2007 was performed as a play in East London. It's latest performance was in 2019 at The Children's Performing Arts, White Bear Lake Minnesota.
- Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching, outlining, or planning before beginning a book?
Even though I have authored three books, and considered a writer I consider myself more as a "Storyteller". The title of "Storyteller is greatly respected in many cultures however in our society is sometimes seen in a negative light i.e. "Oh he's just a storyteller". Initially when I have considered writing a book I see it in my own mind as a story, very much like a movie. I then proceeded to document what I have created in my mind. My research is two-tiered drawn from my own experience of growing up with an undiagnosed dyslexia as well as my training and background as a Occupational Therapist.
- Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
The authors that I am drawn to are those who are, in my opinion, great storytellers i.e. Samuel Clemens/ Mark Twain, Wayne Dyer, Leo Buscaglia and locally, Ernie Larson.
- When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Performing on by 12 string acoustic guitar accompanied by my spouse Molly. Attending theatre, spending time with my grandchildren.
In addition to James's own book, he has taken up the charge of promoting his late brother, Randy Bauer's book, Kayaking the Great Circle Trilogy.
In the early 1970s, Randy Bauer took a record-breaking kayak trip from Lake Itasca, to New Orleans, around the Intercoastal Waterways and into the Great Lakes. This trip set a record and was placed in the Guinness Book of Records where it's remained unchallenged for many years. Randy was a lifelong resident of Anoka County and was a teacher at Crossroads Alternative High School, in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Randy's manuscript was complete, ready for publishing shortly before his death. I performed some final editing and his manuscript was accepted for publication.
Randy was a lifelong adventurer which included canoeing, building kayaks and traveling in them. He was an Eagle Scout which greatly prepared him for such an adventure as well as his training in the United States Army.
I believe that Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain was of great influence on Randy particularly his adventures involving The Mississippi River. Of other great influence was the writings of Sigurd Olson and correspondence which he had with Siguad.
Randy's most beloved interest was that of photography. At the time of his death he had over 100,000 slides/photos. All 43 of his chapters in his book begin with one of his photos.
For some curious reason, Randy's book, Kayaking the Great Circle Trilogy, is of great interest particularly to young men with learning challenges/dyslexia. Some report, for the first time in their life, they have picked up a book they could not put down. Perhaps it is the adventure, the shorter chapters, the photography or just the idea of stepping out of society for two years for an adventure on the water.