On April 29, 1970, John Turner was born in a cab in Vicksburg, Miss. (Well, almost. The taxi rushing John’s mother to the hospital to give birth to him was late. But they made it—barely.) John spent his childhood and youth playing baseball, occasionally studying, and wreaking general havoc on nearby Raymond, a town with about 2,000 residents, a huge community college (where his mother was a Psychology professor), and zero stoplights.

After graduating high school in 1988, John attended the community college—directly across the street from his high school, so for him it felt like 13th and 14th grades—before transferring to the University of Southern Mississippi, a hundred miles or so down the road in Hattiesburg. His major was Acting, his minor was Music (Piano), and his focus was Getting Wasted. John somehow graduated in 1997, his degree delayed a bit by many parties, general procrastination, and a summer working at Yosemite National Park in California.

In 1999, John landed a fantastic job with an educational theatre company in Auburn, N.Y., a suburb of Syracuse. His job consisted of traveling to schools to perform plays for various grade levels, and presenting instructional workshops prior to each performance—a position John absolutely loved. But in May 2002, he was mugged and assaulted by a man he’d met at a local nightclub. John suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack, so he spent seven months in the hospital and endured two more years of intense rehabilitation. After that incident (for which John’s attacker was caught and convicted to 25 years in prison), he no longer had the physical capabilities to perform, thus his career as an actor and musician was over.

Luckily, John possessed some writing talent, so he began eking out a living as an author and journalist, publishing the occasional magazine article and working on the staff of the local newspaper for about two years. But by this time, his partying was getting the best of him. By now a full-fledged alcoholic, John lost his job, was evicted from his apartment, and escaped to Key West, Fla., (where one of his few remaining friends lived), presumably to drink himself to death.

John with his girlfriend (and the “Confessions…” editor), Kari Pope, at a book signing in June 2014.

Somehow, he didn’t die. Not long after arriving in Key West, John found the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he’s been sober since March 26, 2012. John continues to eke out a living as a freelance writer, and published his first book, a collection of humorous short stories about his life called Confessions of a Gimp, in May 2014.

That November, he relocated to Los Angeles to be with the love of his life, Kari. The couple were married in November 2015.