Home School Heartbeat Radio Program

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Crafting Stories: An Interview with John Erickson

Vol. 110, Prg. 31–35
March 12–16, 2012

Ever wonder how a boy who loves to tell stories becomes a successful author? John Erickson joins Mike Farris this week to share his road to becoming the author of the humorous children’s mystery series, Hank the Cowdog. John defines good writing and shares how you can encourage your students to utilize their talents, just as his mother encouraged him.

Program Listing:

Click on a program title to listen online and read a transcript

What’s in a Story?
First Storyteller, Best Teacher
Where the Stories Start
Putting the Words Together
The Importance of Story


John Erickson

John R. Erickson, a former cowboy and ranch manager, is gifted with a storyteller’s knack for spinning a yarn. Through the eyes of Hank the Cowdog, a smelly, smart-aleck Head of Ranch Security, Erickson gives readers a glimpse of daily life on a ranch in the West Texas Panhandle. This series of books and tapes is in school libraries across the country, has sold more than 6 million copies, is a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and is the winner of the 1993 Audie for Outstanding Children’s Series from the Audio Publisher’s Association.

Erickson graduated from the University of Texas in 1966 and studied for two years at Harvard Divinity School. He began to publish short stories in 1967 while working full-time as a cowboy, farmhand, and ranch manager in Texas and Oklahoma. Hank and his sidekick Drover are dogs Erickson worked with on the range. In 1982, however, Erickson was at his rope’s end. “I was working out in the cold; there was 8 inches of snow on the ground,” he says, “I had just gotten a couple of rejection slips from New York publishers, and I had a wife with two kids and another one on the way.” So, with $2,000 in borrowed money, Erickson started his own publishing company, appropriately named Maverick Books.

Erickson was born in Midland, Texas. By the age of 3, he had moved with his family to Perryton, Texas, where he lives today with his wife, their youngest son, and a dog named Sophie, on their very own ranch. Learn more about John Erickson.

Program Offer

If you’ve appreciated John Erickson’s insights on writing and the story of his own development as an author, check out his nonfiction book, Story Craft! Learn more or order Story Craft by clicking the link above.

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