Saturday, June 21, 2014

 

Introduction to my new book: "Short Stories from Ash Grove"

My proof copy is in my hands to review so my newest book should be available toward the end of the summer. Here is the introduction text for my book:

James Joyce once wrote, "If you have had a childhood you have experienced enough to be able to write stories for the rest of your life." I never realized the truth in what Joyce wrote until I began to gather stories for this book. Every story in this book was inspired by a person, place or event during my childhood in Ash Grove, Mo.

I wrote “The New Neighbors” when I was a senior at Ash Grove High School. The version printed in this book retains the same plot, characters and narrative but with an expanded text featuring more details and a slightly more polished writing style from when this story was first written in 1982.

Sitting at a national-chain restaurant in Springfield, Mo., and looking out over the cement parking lot inspired me to write "Hayfields" in 1987. I wrote this story based on feelings expressed by my grandfather and incorporated some of my own farm experiences.

My own family experiences help to shape the stories, “A Short Visit Home” and “An Auction with Grandpa.” There is no need to make up events when your own life is full of them! These stories are actual events weaved together in a fictional retelling.

Members of my own family gave me the premise in "Bill's Eight Ball Room." My brother is a distance runner and my hometown did have a pool hall. I wrote, "Bill's Eight Ball Room” when I was a sophomore at Drury University (1986). An actual conversation between my grandfather and one of his brothers forms the basis of the dialogue in this story.

Then there are stories that contain valuable experiences from my own life embedded in them. I wrote "The Decision Makers” in high school after getting turned down for a date. The use of competing voices in Greg’s voice is something most anyone has experienced. “The Down Elevator” is a story I wrote while working at the law offices of Harrison, Tucker and Hyde in Springfield (1987). “Confessions of a Cliché User” is actually a newspaper column that I wrote in 1989. “A Place at the Lunch Counter” began as a newspaper column in 1991 but was expanded to short story for a contest (2006). “Poetic Justice” was written in 2012 to showcase some poetry I had written over the course of several years. “Floating Upward” is also a contest entry written in 2010. “That Darned Old Dog” is my most recent short story (2013) but includes many actual events from my childhood. Finally, “Intros: The Confidential Way to Meet” has to be called fiction but it is nearly autobiographical. I thank God daily for my loving and kind wife Stacey and the fact that we met in church, not with a personal ad.

My favorite short story author O. Henry wrote about what he knew best: cowboys, the big city, and newspaper work. Likewise, I find myself writing about things that I know best: small town experiences, newspapers, church, and events in my own life. My hope is that you enjoy this glimpse at my life through fictional stories.


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