Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Story Behind the Story: Tell Tail

When I was little, the house we lived in was situated next to a grove of trees. Well kept with a floor of pine needles, the little forest had a variety of trees—all relatively short in stature.
In fact, you might call it an orchard since it featured an apple tree, cherry trees and a raspberry bush.
And right along our sidewalk, with dozens of branches hanging overhead, a mulberry tree.
Every spring into summer, the mulberries fell like rain.
Fun for a kid on a hot afternoon. Scrumptious to be sure.
Fun for the birds too, who plopped their colorful calling cards onto the sidewalk amidst the purples and blue stains.
I’ve always wanted to write a story about those trees, and the headache it caused for my mom when I would come in with a stained shirt, shorts or shoe.
Fast forward to a few weeks back when, walking along the Missouri River, I found myself once more under a canopy of dropping mulberries, dodging the little landmines on the trail even while I enjoyed the shade against the afternoon heat.  Ahead of me, a young woman with a Great Dane was pulling mightily on his leash, scolding him for scarfing up the free fruit.
And just like that, the following story came together.
So I was again surprised by how stories can spring into life. But another surprise waited when I sat down to the keyboard.
As the first few sentences came out, the voice seemed familiar.
Sensing, er…”Poe-tential,”  I listened to the voice and ended up with one of the few pastiche stories I’ve ever written.
As you know, a pastiche is work done in a style that imitates another work, artist, or period (Thanks, Google!).
If you don’t get it from the title, it won’t be hard to quickly see where “Tell Tail” got its last bit of inspiration. 
It was a fun one to write. I hope you have fun reading it. 
You can read Tell Tail by clicking here. Please drop a comment and let me know what you think.

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. Rich, I always love these "behind the scenes" posts of yours that let us know the inspiration for your wonderful stories. I'm a sucker for dog stories 9as you know!) and these little posts of yours with the "tidbits" that let us know what prompted the story really give some good insight. This was a good idea! Kind of reminds me of Paul Harvey and "the rest of the story...when we come back..." Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks, Cheryl! I have always enjoyed reading about how foks come up with their specific ideas for stories and books. Whenever I get stuck, I can use one of those methods or avenues to get un-stuck!

    1. I think it's odd how our brains work--you see something, and there's your idea--the whole thing unfolding like a movie. Other times, you get stuck, as you say, and try to figure out where to go next? I sometimes used to dream things I could use, but don't remember my dreams much anymore (probably a good thing!) LOL

  3. What an evocative story-behind-a-story!

    1. Thanks, Troy! Much appreciated. I'm always surprised by these things!

  4. He almost made it home free, but those terrible mulberries, ugh! Nice story.