Huckleberries Online

Oatmeal creator recalls fire, North Idaho childhood

Matthew Inman, creator of the insanely popular Web comic, "The Oatmeal," as well as several New York Times bestsellers, is practically a North Idaho native - if you're willing to discount the first seven years of his life that he spent in Southern California.

This week is the 21st anniversary of the fire that destroyed his family home in Hayden. Everyone got out safely, but the family's eight cats died in that fire. Inman, 31, has never forgotten them.

"I don't think I ever got past that," he said. "Every little cat you own takes a piece of your heart with them.

"We had insurance, so we rebuilt, but it was a rough year for us. My mom left my dad eight weeks before the fire, so the first place we lived after the fire was her new boyfriend's apartment. Then we kept jumping around from apartment to apartment. I look at that year as a very formative one for me.

"I was a very unhappy kid in those days, and that probably contributed to make me what I am today. One of these days I plan to write an autobiographical book of my stories from Idaho." Full story. George Kingson, Cda Press

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