Joe Helgerson is the author the very entertaining series of stories featuring Sheriff Huck Finn set in turn-of-the-century Marquis, Iowa—continued in our May issue with “The Case of Captain Nemo’s Half Brother.” He has also written two clever YA books, Horns & Wrinkles (2006) and Crows & Cards (2009), both published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. The latter was named a Smithsonian Notable Book. The Sheriff Huck stories, which he talks about here, go back to June 2002, but he published two stories with us in 1983, beginning with “Eighty-Seven Miles of Smoke and Mist” (April 1983).
I’ve always had a soft spot for crackpot theories, especially when they’re my own. One of my favorites contends that there’s not one but two Mississippi Rivers that drain North America. One’s measured in miles, the other in pages. One carries away our topsoil, the other our imagination. The first starts in Lake Itasca, the second in Samuel Clemens’s inkpot. Having grown up in a small town on the Mississippi myself, it was probably inevitable that these two rivers would eventually mingle in my writing.
I wish I could say that my love of Mark Twain’s work dates back to my childhood, but that would a lie, and we all know how fiction writers hate those. So I’ll give it to you straight: I’ve only a faint memory of my parents reading Tom Sawyer Continue reading