Menagerie, by Joan Hall

I’m really excited to have Joan Hall visit today. She’s branched out into short fiction and published her book of 13 short stories, and even published on Friday the 13th. That’s something I’ve done before, and I think it’s cool.

Joan is a long-time author friend and one of my collaborators over at Story Empire. I’ve read a bunch of her books and recommend them without fail. I’m sure Menagerie is wonderful and will be reading it myself.

Make Joan feel welcome everyone, and please use those sharing buttons before you leave. I can almost bet she’s done it for most of you.


Thanks so much, Craig, for opening up your sight to me today for the eighth stop of the Menagerie tour. The book is a mixed-genre compilation of thirteen short stories. Each stop features a different story where I tell what inspired me to write it. Today, I’ll talk about the idea behind Storm Rider.

In the early 1980s, I read a book titled A Walk Across America.It’s the true story of a young man named Peter Jenkins who became disillusioned with life and set out on a journey accompanied by his dog, Cooper. During his journey, Jenkins met and lived with several people, often taking temporary jobs to help pay for his trip.

Even though many years have passed since reading the book, it’s one of those stories that stayed with me. Fast forward to last summer when I envisioned a truck driver sitting at a roadside diner and had an “unusual” talk with another customer. I won’t say what was so mysterious about the second encounter because that would give away the story.

I changed things up a bit from that original idea. Mike Travis is a young man who, like Peter Jenkins, was a bit dejected with life. Instead of following his father’s wishes to return to college for his master’s degree, Mike decides to walk across country. One evening, he’s on a lonely stretch of a desert highway when a violent thunderstorm approaches. It so happens a truck driver, Ray Crawford stops to give Mike a ride.

During the trip, Mike tells Ray part of his story and receives some sage advice. After traveling over seventy miles together, Ray drops Mike off at a roadside diner. It’s there where Mike discovers something interesting about Ray.

Part of this story was also inspired by a journey my brother took during the summer of 1977. He traveled by ten-speed bike from San Antonio, Texas to Moab, Utah. As you can imagine, he met lots of interesting people and had a few stories of his own to share.

Storm Rider is set during the summer of 1978. A few other stories in this collection are set during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s—what I call simpler times.

Below is an excerpt.







The fresh scent of rain hitting the ground emanated from the parched desert. Mike’s biggest concern was lightning. He considered a culvert or a drainage ditch, but with the rain falling at this rate, the probability of flash flooding was high. He prayed the lightning didn’t strike nearby.

Your wanderlust will get you into trouble someday.

His father’s voice echoed in his head. Hopefully, his words weren’t prophetic.

Times like this made Mike question his choice of walking across the country. He could have purchased a used van by dipping into his savings. The trip would have been easier, but his expenses would have been greater. He wasn’t about to accept any money from his father. Not that Robert Travis would offer any unless it was for a plane ticket home and a promise to return to college.

The clouds darkened the early evening sky, making it appear much later. As he continued toward the valley, the rumble of an approaching vehicle—likely a bus or an eighteen-wheeler—sounded from behind him. A curtain of light cascaded over the road when the semi crested the small ridge. Mike moved toward the shoulder, so the truck could pass, but it slowed to a stop just ahead of him.

Taking it as a sign the driver intended to give him a lift, Mike rushed to the passenger side, then opened the door.

“Where are you headed?” The trucker was a man of around sixty years of age with a waistline indicative of someone who spent a lot of time sitting.

“Eventually, Arizona. Tonight, the next town.”

“Climb in.”


King’s. The Tower of London. Glass. What do these have in common?

Each is a famous menagerie.

While this Menagerie doesn’t focus on exotic animals, it does contain a collection of stories that explore various trials people face and how their reactions shape their worlds.

Survivors of a haunted bridge. Women who wait while their husbands fight a war. Former partners reuniting to solve a cold-case murder.

These are just three of the thirteen stories in this compendium, encompassing past and present, natural and supernatural, legend and reality. The genres and timelines are varied, but there’s a little something for everyone who enjoys reading about simpler times and small-town life.

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Filed under Writing

55 responses to “Menagerie, by Joan Hall

  1. Hi Craig, another great story overview from Joan’s new book. I have it coming up on my TBR.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Pingback: Menagerie Book Tour: Day Eight with Craig Boyack – Joan Hall

  3. I liked that story very much. Great to hear where you got your ideas from, Joan. Thanks, Craig for featuring Joan and her amazing collection here.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I am reading (and enjoying) Menagerie, and it is interesting to follow this book tour while comparing notes as I go along…

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Storm Rider was one of my faves in this wonderful collection, Joan! It’s lovely to get to know some of the stories behind it. Wishing you every success.

    Craig, thanks for sharing!

    Hugs to you both 💕🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Congratulations and good luck to Joan. I will check her new book out.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “he’s on a lonely stretch of a desert highway…” Though it’s not quite the same, I’m now singing “Hotel California” and will be all day. (Thought you’d want to know that, Joan.)

    I really enjoyed this story. And the story behind the story. This is a great compilation that I highly recommend, but I have to call out this particular tale as one that will stick with you. Congratulations and best wishes, Joan.

    Craig, thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Gwen M. Plano

    Thank you, Craig, for hosting Joan today. I thoroughly enjoyed Menagerie, and your story clip is one of the reasons why. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Whoa, Joan, your brother was a pretty adventurous man back in the day! Thanks, Craig, for hosting Joan and Menagerie today. I enjoyed the collection!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. So great to see Joan and her latest stories making a stop here today, Craig. Thanks for hosting her, and Joan, I know you’ll pardon me if I don’t read the excerpt today. I’m currently reading Menagerie right now, and would rather read the whole thing at one go. So far, I’m loving it, and am going to get back to catching up on my reviews by starting with this collection! Congratulations and wishing you huge success with Menagerie! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  11. A great story I am sure the others are enjoyable too. Sorry for missing again the start of a blog tour. Congratulatioons to Joan! xx Mihael

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It’s good to hear about another interesting story in this book. It just moved up on my TBR list, John. Thanks for sharing this, Craig. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. That does it. I’m stopping the current read and switching over to your book, Joan. Wonderful excerpt. Thanks for hosting, Craig.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. D.L. Finn, Author

    This was a good one and excerpt!

    Thanks for hosting, Craig 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This was one of my favorite stories in the collection, but honestly, they were all good.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Loving these behind the scenes peeks, Joan. Thanks for hosting, Craig!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’m looking forward to reading my copy of Menagerie! Sharing on Facebook.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thanks for hosting me today, Craig. It’s always fun to visit with your readers, and I appreciate the support.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This was definitely one of my favorite stories in this collection. It left goosebumps on my arms, the sign of a well-written story. Thank you, Craig, for hosting Joan today! Congrats, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Picked up this and John’s two new books! Can’t wait to read them, they all sound fantastic!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Wonderful feature Craig and congratulations on the new collection Joan, looking forward to reading.

    Liked by 2 people

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