"The Yellow Rose of Texas"

Although I've had many stories reprinted in anthologies and have had stories I submitted to general submission calls accepted for several collections of new fiction, this was the first time I've ever been contacted by an editor and specifically invited to submit to an anthology in advance of the general call.

The incredibly prolific Michael Bracken has been a friend since we met at a Bouchercon several years ago, and he and his wife Temple and my wife Laurie and I have enjoyed a number of meals together in several states, generally in connection with either B'con or Malice Domestic. With the 2019 Bouchercon coming up in Texas--which Michael and Temple have long called home--he pitched a collection of private-eye stories set there to Down & Out Books, which jumped at the idea.

I spent a truly terrible summer working on a cattle ranch in Batesville, TX, around 1971, and I've long wanted to write something set in the Lone Star State, but I never had an idea that seemed right. When Michael invited me to submit to The Eyes of Texas, I was flattered, but I still couldn't think of a plot or a main character. He told me about Hearne, where there was a camp for German prisoners of war during WWII, and suggested I might use that as the setting for a story. A plot and a main character came to me almost immediately, and "The Yellow Rose of Texas" turned out to be one of those stories that practically wrote itself.

I often like to slip an Easter egg into my stories--an in joke that most readers will miss but that will please any eagle-eyed folks who do spot it. "The Yellow Rose of Texas" contains the most ambitious Easter egg I've ever attempted, and I'm especially proud of it. I'm not going to explain it here, since that would rob you of the pleasure of finding it for yourself.

You can pre-order the paperback edition of The Eyes of Texas here and the Kindle edition here.

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