Story Behind the Story #13:
Smuggler’s Island

Smuggler's IslandPeople are constantly telling writers, “I have a great story for you.”

If the writer is patient he/she will hear a narrative about something that happened to the storyteller. Truth to tell, sometimes these are good and even interesting stories, but simply don’t resonate with the writer. More often than not, they are simply curious narratives that do not have much literary possibility. Of course, the tellers of these tales are not interested in writing the story themselves.

But in one instance someone did tell me a story which caught my attention. It happened this way.

Joe, an acquaintance of mine, not a particularly close friend, approached me quite out of the blue in the library where I was working, and loudly announced, “I have a story for you.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“When I was a kid, I’d spend my summers with my grandmother on Cape Map (New Jersey). This was during prohibition. Every Thursday night she would lock me in her house because smugglers were bringing in liquor. Trying to keep me out of trouble.”

That’s all he said, and with those words, he went off.

The more I thought about it, the more Joe’s story appealed to me. In fact, Joe’s tale was the basis for the book I wrote, Shadrach’s Crossing. Subsequently, it would be republished under a different title, Smuggler’s Island.

The moral: When someone says “I have a story for you,” listen.

Leave a comment