February 2, 2016

Henry Vogel: From Storytelling to Publication




Cover of I'm in Charge & Other Stories
For the month of February, I've invited various authors with current releases to share something about their writing.  Today, we hear from my brother, Henry Vogel, author of five books and an accomplished storytellerI remember Henry telling stories on long car trips.  The only one that sticks with me had an eyeball rolling across the desert. To this day, I cringe at the sand-in-the-eye feeling I got while listening to his story.  Please enjoy his post below and check out Henry's sites and children's book!


I’ve always enjoyed creating stories for children. I started when I was a child, making up stories for my sisters during long car trips. I don’t remember much about those stories, but I doubt they were any good. Fortunately, I got better at it. When my son was born, I even got somewhat serious about it.

I remember laying (lying? I can never keep them straight) in bed one night when my son was still an infant. I was tossing around semi-traditional fairy tale ideas when the following exchange popped into my mind.

“How would you win the love of the princess?” asked the king.

“If they aren’t too expensive, I’d be willing to buy one of the raffle tickets,” replied the prince.

I liked that exchange so much, I created a story to go around it. Thus was born “The Kings Three Questions,” a story which came together in the matter of an hour or so.

By the time my son was three, I was making up bedtime stories which featured him as the main character. We had “Brandt’s Adventure in Dreamland,” “Brandt and the Great Broom Race,” “Brandt and the Space Pirates,” and quite a few more I can’t remember.

Telling stories in which a child emerged triumphant while competing against adults fired my imagination. But this time I wondered about a child stepping into an adult position and thinking he triumphed until reality taught him otherwise.

 Unlike “The King’s Three Questions,” I spent a lot of time thinking about this new story. I settled on the idea of a ten-year-old prince stepping into the king’s shoes fairly quickly but, originally, had the king die. Not only was that too depressing for the tone I wanted, it meant the child became the king. There was no way the adults around him would act as they do in the story if the boy was their king. After lots of fiddling, I sent the king and queen off on a diplomatic mission. Before leaving, the king tells the prince he’s in charge of the kingdom. The king, of course, means that symbolically, but the prince takes it literally.

“I’m in Charge!” remains my favorite of my children’s stories and is one of the most popular ones I tell during storytelling performances.

Early in my career as a storyteller, I developed a love for noodlehead tales. While the term isn’t well known any more, kids (and most adults) love the silly humor in the tales. “The Seven Silly Brothers” was one of the earliest traditional tales I adapted for my act. It’s a silly tale about a silly boy making a silly mistake when he counts his brothers. He expects seven but, because he didn’t count himself, only gets six. In the original story, the brothers all look for the “missing” brother. I didn’t think that was quite silly enough, so added a twist which could only happen to a true noodlehead.

If you’d like to find out about the twist or how the other two stories end, consider buying a copy of “I’m in Charge! & Other Stories.”


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