The Wampus Got Him!

Three Great Stories – One Wild Imagination:
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places, sometimes without warning. A good writer is a collector of ideas scribbled down on any scrap of paper, a restaurant napkin, a paper bag — anything so that it won’t be lost — in hopes that one day it might come to play in a story or even inspire an entire novel. Here are a group of such inspirations that became the short stories collected together in The Wampus Got Him!

First up is Ice Storm, inspired by a conversation with my wife in a diner in Rouses Point, New York when she said something to the effect of, “All of your stories have people bouncing all around the world, why not have one take place in a diner like this one in a small, northern town like this?” The conversation that followed planted the seeds for this tale along with my own personal experiences living in the north country for the past several decades and dealing with the sometimes paralyzing winter weather and the entertainment of watching visiting “flatlanders” feebly trying to cope with it (having been one myself).

Next is a genuine New England ghost story inspired by a true story that actually took place in Connecticut not far from where I grew up. The Son of Lies is set in colonial New Hampshire in the days of circuit-riding preachers and Puritan values. A murderer who builds a house of cards, one lie atop another, to hide his crime — destined to catastrophically collapse one day. An odd murder-mystery story with a tragic end, it was a sensation in its day of dime novels, sensationalist newspaper accounts and questionable journalism.

And finally, the bittersweet story of two elderly widowers who vow to not spend another Christmas alone eating warmed-over Meals-On-Wheels dinners waiting for the phone not to ring. The Best Christmas Ever was inspired by the eclectic mix of customers I’d met and people I’d worked with working part-time at a local hardware store (which also inspired characters in other novels and the store itself in the novel Pieces). In this modern era of social media, and a generation that doesn’t prioritize keeping in touch with previous generations, it’s easy to become isolated and overwhelmed with depression, especially as one grows older, lonesome and in deteriorating health. The story’s end is both sad and inspiring.

I hope you enjoy these offerings from my studio. I hope, too, that you not only find them entertaining, but also an inspiration of sorts and watch for the next novels to be released, inspired by — well — whatever the muse may unexpectedly offer.

— Bob Pierce