03 January 2024

Chatting with Shanks


"So," I said. "When did you decide to become a thief?"

Leopold Longshanks raised his bushy eyebrows.  "Seriously?  Talk about blaming the victim."

"I don't know what you mean."

He leaned on my kitchen table, pulling his coffee cup closer. "I mean I'm a fictional character and if I steal it's because that's what you wrote."

"True enough, I suppose.  I was just trying to open the conversation."

"Sure, and make me look bad in the process." He shook his head.  "The readers will know who's responsible."

"Well, what would you have said instead?"

Shanks looked at the ceiling.  "Let's see.  I would have pointed out that  you ride a bicycle every day."

"Unless there's ice on the ground.  I'm not crazy."

"The jury's still out on that.  For one thing, you're sitting here talking to a figment of your imagination.  But my point is, it's not surprising that you thought of a way to steal a bicycle."

I reached for my own coffee.  "Well, mystery writers' brains do tend to head toward crime, as you would know."

"Correct.  But since you are relatively honest--"


Shanks shrugged.  "Just because you haven't been accused of of plagiarism yet..."

"Very funny.  Go on."

"Well, you had to think of some way to use your technique for bike theft without risking jail time.  You thought of me even though I am somewhat exercise-averse."

"You're lazy, even for a writer."

Shanks waved a finger.  "Don't insult our peers.  The point is, you  realized that you could send me on a writer's retreat and they are often held in park-like settings, where there might be bicycles available for the guests. After that, the plotting was easy."

"It looks easy if someone else is doing it," I replied.

"Well." Another shrug.  "Easy for me.  I'm a much better writer than you."

"Only because I created you that way."

"As you often remind me." He sipped more coffee. "When does 'Shanks in Retreat' come out anyway?"

"The January/February issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  It's already available."

"Excellent.  Why don't you tell all those nice readers to turn off this blog and go get a copy?"

"I think you just did."

"Clever of me." He looked across the kitchen.  "Got any donuts?"  



  1. Nice to hear Shanks tell his version of his story. Can hardly wait to get my edition!

  2. Clever, or so clever. I now feel like I'm in kindergarden and I want you as my teacher!
    I can ride a bike, though.

  3. Fun. And, I agree with anonymous--Clever.

  4. I am not qualified to teach higher education like that. But please wear your helmet!

  5. Thanks, all. I hope you enjoy the story.

  6. Rob, you have done well with Shanks and have many great stories in that series. Keep them coming.


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