Alan Oberdeck Books


Why Did I start Writing Short Stories?

I have always told myself stories when driving to keep myself awake. It started when I
was a farm kid about eleven or twelve. I, at an early age, learned how to drive and was
able to control the tractor precisely enough to cultivate rows of corn. You cultivate the
corn rows by driving along straddling the row using a device that moves dirt on both
sides of the corn stalks in the rows. This smothers the weeds that grow up around the corn
stalks. (modern farms use chemicals to kill the weeds now) If the driver veers to the
right or left of the corn row the corn stalks at that point will be wiped out. For this reason
the tractor goes very slow. This is a time consuming job and very boring. For me it was
training for driving long hours and long distances as a traveling salesman. I became very
good at staying awake telling myself stories.
Later at night in my hotel room, when bored, I would write down some of the
stories I told myself. I had found ten stories that were in notebooks and some notes that
were in other places.
When did the idea for publishing these stories occur?
I had a friend who had read my other four books who was fighting cancer. We were
talking on the phone one day about reading material. He was needing a lift and I asked
him if he would be interested in my sending him a short story every week for him to read.
He thought that was a good idea. I then began to rework some of my old short stories and
began sending him a story every week. He would write back in response.
That went on until I ran out of the short stories I had. I then began to search my
memory for incidents that I could use for stories. During that time I wrote him a new
story each week for nineteen weeks. In all I sent him stories for twenty nine weeks.
When we were done he thought that these stories would make a good book.
Why did you publish “Stories told by Traveling Salesmen?
When I looked at the book market for an easy read, a book of short stories, I found that
there aren’t many books of short stories to be had. I decided to follow my friend’s advice
and collect the short stories I had written into manuscript form and publish them.
Are these stories about how to sell?
No. These stories cover the many aspects of what the traveling salesman encounters in
his day to day life.
Can you give me an example?
There are stories on what it was like to fly. The story Airplane Flue gives an example of
flying before 911. The Trip to Memphis gives another example.
Are all the stories about flying?
No, the stories cover a broad range of subjects, for example the people we meet, how
people react and even stories to entertain.
Well what are some of the other subjects you alluded to covered?
The safety of travel, Traveling salesmen are usually alone. They have no family support,
the family is at home. There are dangers out there that they have to be aware of. Some

of the stories are about death. The story The Requiem was written in memory of one
such incident. The Right Seat of the Car is the other side of that scenario.
You said there are stories to entertain, what are these?
The Magic Forest is one. Tom the Cat is another. I wrote these for the “fun of it” just to
entertain myself. Interesting concept isn’t it, to sit down and write a story for the fun of
Are there any stories that relate to the business you were in?
The Performance was one. That is what happens when younger people are hired and
placed into management positions without the experience to back them up. This was a
time when the management started believing what the professors, who have no practical
experience, and teach the marketing theory in colleges knew what they are doing.
Another is The Interview.
Are these stories just made up in your mind or are they based on experience?
Most of them are based on things other salesmen have told me and some of them I have
lived through. And a few of them are crazy thoughts that have come out of the gray
matter called my brain.
Do you have any other stories you would like to comment on?
Yes, The Social Circle Affair. I wrote this for the fun of it when I was selling industrial
diamonds back in the 70’s. I was reading Science Fiction then.
Do you have any other thoughts you wish to share about “Stories Told by Traveling
If you read this book you will get to share the experiences of what it was like to have
been a traveling salesman in a past age when things were different. You were freer from
company control because the accountants had a harder time keeping track of you. When
you traveled by air you had more freedom going through the airports. And in the airplane
the crew was more relaxed. It just was a freer time to travel. Now the federal
government is trying to control everything you do.

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