I was born in 1965 in Wesel, West Germany, on the River Rhine, baptized on a font dating back to the 13th Century Middle-Ages. My mother Roswitha Dyck was of the middle class German Leng family. My father William Dyck was twenty years her senior, a Canadian chemical engineer of German Mennonite background. Born in Siberia, William spent his early childhood in the Ukraine. In the turmoil of the Russian Civil War, William followed his widowed mother to Saskatchewan in 1920. My mother spent her childhood growing up amidst WWII bomb raids. Roswitha rarely saw her father who in 1940 marched into conquered Paris, fought in the battles of Africa and Russia and spent two years as a prisoner of war.
I was lucky growing up in a generation that did not suffer war or other devastating calamities. My childhood was a happy one, growing up renovated farm houses in the rural country side of North Rhine Westphalia. I spent a healthy amount of time outside, enjoying walks with my grandfather and our dog, playing with friends or by myself. I also read a lot; books about wild animals and exotic places, of Vikings and of ancient Romans, filled my imaginative mind with dreams of travel and adventure.
After moving to Canada during my teens, I discovered Tolkien, Moorcock and R.E. Howard. The stories of these authors sparked a deeper interest in the historical cultures that influenced their fictional worlds. The lives of history’s prominent individuals, the struggles of cultures, empires and kingdoms, to me were as fascinating as any fictional narrative, and even more so because they really happened.
After high school, my diverse interests led to a number of educational pursuits. My artistic side led me to a diploma in Fine Arts, my historical interests to an Arts Degree, History Major (including a lot of anthropology courses) my fondness for nature to a Technical Diploma in Fish & Wildlife Studies. It was the latter that led to my first professional job. I worked as a wildlife technician for the BC Ministry of Environment, conducting field research in the mountains of Vancouver Island. I never lost interest in history, however, finding plenty of time for reading while living in a lonely camper in a logging camp. It was during these years that I discovered popular history magazines and was impressed by their clear and engaging writing style.
During my high school days I had enjoyed writing historical essays but I did not think I could ever be a writer. German, not English, was my first language and lack of encouragement from teachers cultivated self doubt. My university professors saw things differently, as did my technical writing instructors. Their praise gave me the confidence, my education the solid research grounding and my creative side the impetus, to write an article of my own.
My first publication was in 1998, a short article about pirates in the now defunct Command Magazine. Since then I’ve written for most of the popular military history magazines published in the USA. My first book, “The Roman Barbarian Wars, the Era of Roman Conquest,” was self-published by Trafford Books in 2011. Three years later it was picked up Pen & Sword Books, awaiting release in the summer of 2015.
Besides my interest in history, I have enjoyed traveling in the wilderness of my British Columbia home province and visiting exotic locations around the globe. I don’t paint much anymore, instead having picked up the guitar. I continue to maintain an exercise routine, believing in healthy mind and body, although I rather fancy a good beer. Other hobbies include photography, bird watching, being an automobile enthusiast and playing pen & paper Dungeon and Dragons. I keep up with current events and remain active in supporting social, environmental and animal welfare causes. I am lucky to have a small but supportive family, a large number of most excellent friends and a rewarding long time relationship with my girlfriend. The one thing I miss is having a dog, my last best friend having passed away many years ago. Hopefully upon retirement, my girlfriend and I will provide another happy life to a canine companion.
Most of my spare time, however, continues to be devoted to reading and researching history. Encouraged by praise from readers, editors and critics alike, I look forward to writing more books and magazine articles in the future.