“Jimmy, quit telling tall tales!” was my mother’s frequent admonition when I was a boy. It took several decades before she begrudgingly accepted that she might have produced a writer and not a future politician. The capitulation took place at my dining table where she and I were listening to her six-year-old grandson practice his newly acquired reading skill by reciting the contents of my junk mail. When he got to a letter from the South Dakota Review and began to read in his hesitant first grader’s voice, “Dear… Mr… Ross. We… are… delighted…” I saw first-hand proof that jaw dropping is not just a figure of speech.
That was more than twenty years ago. Since then, I have been honing my story-telling skills in various formats and venues, including the Rose Bar in Jackson, Wyoming which occasionally bestows a large pizza and a tractor cap to the best story teller of the evening. My seven grandchildren know, too, that “Papa Jim, tell us a story,” is a magic phrase guaranteed to suspend chores and homework for the duration.
Story telling is fun, though it doesn’t always pay the bills. To take care of necessities, I’ve at various times been a Peace Corps volunteer in the Congo, a low-level staffer for a Midwestern Congressman and a three piece suited Wall Street lawyer and deal maker. Hey, it was a living. These days I write from my home in the Teton Valley of Wyoming, where elk and other four-legged residents outnumber the two-legged variety by ten to one, and the patrons of the local cowboy bars appreciate a well-told tall tale.
My short fiction has appeared in various print and online publications including The South Dakota Review, Santa Clara Review, Whiskey Island Magazine, Phantasmagoria, The Distillery. Lost River Lit Mag and Embark. I am a frequent contributor to, and occasional winner of the Jackson, Wyoming live story telling competition, Cabin Fever Story Slam.
Regal House Publishing is proud to publish James Ross’ work of historical fiction, Hunting Teddy Roosevelt, in 2020.