When I first came across Harlan Ellison's short stories, I often enjoyed his opening anecdotes more than the fiction that followed.
Not that the stories aren't top-notch, but it's rare for a writer to divulge what led to a certain character or plot twist. Ellison's explanations weren't just fascinating to me as a reader, but became highly educational to the beginning writer I was. He may tell people tongue-in-cheek that all his ideas come from a warehouse in Schenectady, New York, but for anybody who's paying attention, the source of his ideas are incredibly well documented.
Growing up, I was also a fan of Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story radio program. Many were the summer afternoons I spent doing field work, suffering through the dreck of a static filled AM radio, waiting for that ten minutes where Harvey explained the unheralded connections between people and events, revealing cause and effect.
So just for fun I suggested to Cheryl Pierson a series of blog posts that will emphasize the Fictioneering part of Western Fictioneers. It's a challenge for myself to write a new story for the blog each month, and hopefully it'll be interesting to you, the readers, to see where the idea came from and how I put it together.
This month's story, “The Girl in the Yellow Shirt,” owes its heart and soul to James Reasoner, who first pointed out to me that many of the pulp western titles of the 30s and 40s offer similar cover paintings featuring a red shirted cowboy and a yellow dressed gal.
Sometimes they look different, sometimes uncannily the same. Who were these two? I set about to find out.
Meanwhile, as some of you know, my grandma left her home late last year for a nursing facility. The experience of sorting through a lifetime's worth of boxes, books, furniture and keepsakes, informed this story too. What surprises did we find? What memories that were completely forgotten?
It all sort of gelled here in three sittings over the course of two days: roughly three hours and 2700 words.
Please read The Girl In the Yellow Shirt here.
After growing up on a Nebraska farm, Richard Prosch worked as a professional writer, artist, and teacher in Wyoming, South Carolina, and Missouri. His western crime fiction captures the fleeting history and lonely frontier stories of his youth where characters aren’t always what they seem, and the windburned landscapes are filled with swift, deadly danger. In 2016, Richard roped the Spur Award for short fiction given by Western Writers of America. Read more at www.RichardProsch.com