Over the next ten weeks of summer, I’ll be re-posting the 10 Most-Read Stories Behind the Stories from this blog. I’ve rewritten each essay somewhat and included the most-often-asked question about the book.
This book is #10 on the most-read list, my 18th book.
Sometimes things happen to a writer which allows him/her to write a tale using the incident as the basis for a story. The origin of Wolf Rider was just such a true event, and it was quite horrific.
I had just moved into a new apartment and installed a new phone (this was before cell phones.) As I recall, I had yet to receive one phone call.
Then the phone rang.
I picked it up. “Hello?”
“I just killed my girlfriend. Can I talk to you about it?”
If you read the opening pages of Wolf Rider, I closely replicate that call, what was said during that call, and what happened right after it.
But—the man had named and described his “girlfriend.”
I immediately called the police and told them what happened.
“Don’t worry,” I was told. “It’s a full moon, Friday night and welfare checks just out. Forget it.”
Those lines are in the book. I didn’t make them up.
The next day I went to my office in the library where I was working and checked a phone book. There was the exact name of the person who had been—so I had been told—murdered.
I called. She answered. She was a probation officer, and the description of her the “voice” had given me was, she said, quite accurate.
Needless to say, she was quite concerned. I gave her all the information I had (scant) my name, phone, etc. “Do call me,” I said, “and tell what this is all about.”
I hung up.
Needless to say, it was all deeply troubling. Who was the caller? How did he know about the probation officer? Why had he called me? Was it a coincidence? What happened after I gave the police such information as I learned?
A couple of weeks went by. The police never called me back.
I spoke to a reporter friend of mine, a guy who specialized in crime reporting. “I’m going to call that woman again,” I told him, “and get some answers.”
“Don’t,” he advised strongly. “The police will think you made up the whole thing as a way to meet the woman.”
I took his advice. I left it all alone.
Still, it troubled me greatly.
Six months later, one of my sons said to me, “Dad, I’m sick of you talking about that phone call. Go write a book about it.”
That’s exactly what I did. It’s called Wolf Rider. After the first few pages it’s all my invention, which I wrote to give myself some closure.
I used to have a standing bet. It went like this: “Pick up Wolf Rider and read the first few pages. I bet you can’t stop reading.”
I’ve never lost that bet.
Most often asked question: Did you ever find out anything about the caller, the probation officer, or what actually happened?
In a word, No.