East Dallas neighbor Richard Ellison is a man full of stories.
And at 85, he has more than a few of them.
Recently he published a book, “Monmouth in the Morning: Book 1 — a Gannon Family Trilogy,” which is historical fiction loosely based on the life of a friend he knew half a lifetime ago.
“In the 15 years that I knew him, I got this story,” Ellison says. “Of course I’ve fictionalized a lot of things.”
The book is a “good, clean family adventure” that follows the life of the Gannon family, Ellison says, so rather than it being centered on one person, “all of the family members get in the action.”
In the book, a young man named John is based on Ellison’s friend, who was also named John.
“I knew John when he was 50 years old,” Ellison says. “He was an extraordinary man. We’d sit and talk for hours about his adventures. I always said I was going to write his story someday.”
In the book, the Gannon family moves from Monmouth, Ill., to South Dakota on the Brule River.
“It’s a life that happened to hundreds of thousands of Americans during the Industrial Revolution,” Ellison explains. “They moved west and they did things.”
Things like try their hands at frontier banking, show off their musical talents and form lasting friendships with other frontier townsfolk.
Ellison studied creative fiction at New York University while living in Manhattan (and boy, if you get him started talking about his life in Manhattan, you won’t want him to stop). When Ellison reached his 80s and retired, he figured “someday” had better be today.
“I said, ‘Richard, you don’t have any more excuses; you better get to writing,’ ” Ellison says with a laugh.
“Monmouth” is the result, and Ellison is working on the rest of the books in the “Monmouth” trilogy.
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