Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Story Behind the Story: Abigail Blake Stands Her Ground

By Richard Prosch

A few different elements, separated by time and space, came together to make up this month’s story.

They didn’t all come at once. First came Abigail Drake, the grizzled old constable of Willowby, Wyoming. In my Jo Harper stories, Abby Drake is cool and experienced. But it wasn’t always so, and I’ve been wanting to visit her early days for quite a while. 

Almost a year ago, I wrote most of a story called “Abigail Drake Stands Her Ground,” but I wasn’t satisfied with it, and I wasn’t sure why. 

Scrapped and forgotten, I tossed it into a junk folder.This month, in thinking about a story for the Western Fictioneers blog, I remembered that story and pulled out the title.  Thinking about the character anew, I recalled that Abby was a contemporary of Annie Oakley.

When I was a kid visiting my grandma’s house, I used to peruse the childhood books that belonged to my dad and his siblings. My aunt had a copy of Whitman’s TV Tie-In Annie Oakley in the Ghost Town Secret, and I read it one summer afternoon.  The book stayed with me not so much because of the story, but because it was one of the first TV tie-in books I read.  Later, I read others from Whitman: The Rifleman, Maverick, and Bonanza. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to write my own book based on a fictional TV show character?

What if Abby Drake was that character?  What would an episode of Abby Drake’s adventures be like? Surely she’d wear an outfit like Dale Evans with stars embroidered on the shoulders?  Easy enough! And wouldn’t she have a male side-kick?  Well, Abby’s already got one of those in the person of Clay Chandler.

Now all I needed was a plot. Something suitably dramatic, but sort of goofy too. Something like Beaver Cleaver getting his head stuck in a fence. Or Barney Fife getting stuck in his own jail cell.

Or maybe stuck in a bank safe… 

And so “Abigail Drake Stands Her Ground” came together in its second form after a couple hours and 1,800 words. Nothing too serious, but it was a fun story to write. Hopefully, you’ll have fun reading it.

Please read Abigail Drake Stands Her Ground 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


  1. Cute story! It that doesn't convince someone to be an Abigail Drake fan, nothing will. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Zina! We might need to make up some Abby Drake Club badges!

  3. I am still grinning from ear to ear. More please! Doris