J.T. Cope IV was born in 1979 in Bryan, TX. He grew up in the small farming community of Wheelock, TX living on land that had been in the family for over a century. The farm had cattle, a few horses, the occasional pig, and a herd of cats and dogs. Family and friends filled holidays from the Fourth of July to Christmas, and most of the time in between. Camping with his cousin and their friend, fishing with his grandpa, learning tennis from his grandmother, and a brief interlude with flying courtesy of his kindly Methodist pastor filled the rest. Although attending a couple of local schools, J.T. graduated from neighboring Franklin High School in 1998.
Tennis took J.T. to Centenary College of Louisiana where he completed his bachelor’s degree in physics in 2002. Centenary was also where providence guided him to his beautiful wife, Katie. He joined the United States Marine Corps in January 2003 and was married to Katie in July of that same year.
After a brief stop at Camp Johnson, North Carolina, J.T. and Katie were stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii for the next three years. While there, J.T. vacationed in such paradise locations as Iraq and Afghanistan with a couple brief visits to 29 “Stumps.” In 2006 he returned from Iraq and in a small table in the back of a local coffee shop, on a cold (about 78 degrees for Hawaii) and rainy day took down the first notes and ideas for his Countryside Series.
In November 2006 J.T and Katie moved back to Fort Worth, TX where J.T. pursued a master’s in geology at The University of Texas in Arlington over the next three years. Between rock hunting trips to New Mexico and Oklahoma, the manuscript for Countryside continued to grow, edited by the kind and ever-patient efforts of a high-school English teacher, and one of his mother’s finest friends. J.T.’s and Katie’s first daughter was born in December of 2008 on the same day as her great grandmother 101 years earlier.
J.T. graduated in December of 2009, and after alternating between job hunting, teaching at a community college, and working as a barista in a coffee shop and bookstore, he was offered a job in July 2010 with an oil and gas operating company as a field geologist. The job and the Haynesville Shale returned the family to Shreveport, LA, almost a decade after J.T. and Katie’s first date in the same town.
J.T. spent much of the next two years “visiting” drilling rigs, and picking through rocks brought up form two miles below the surface. Although Countryside continued to grow and be revised via editing, this was a time of much personal change for the family. J.T.’s mother and chief encourager for most of his young life passed in December of 2010, but in March of 2011, Katie and J.T. were blessed with a healthy second girl. Then, just as they were settling into Shreveport again, in April of 2012 J.T.’s company decided to move him back to Dallas, TX.
Due to a slow housing market, J.T. spent most of the next year living in a hotel room in Dallas, TX, while Katie and the girls were back in Shreveport, LA. However, it was during these hours alone that Countryside received most of its final polish. The house finally sold in January 2013, and by February of 2013 the family was back together under the same roof.