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.”
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.
Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/jh-menagerie
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