Robert Tell


Robert Tell's award winning fiction, poetry, columns, articles, and creative non-fiction have appeared in many periodicals. He has a growing catalogue of published books including works of fiction, memoir and poetry. "The Witch of Maple Park (Harry Grouch Mystery Series #1)," is an Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Finalist, and First Runner-Up in their Ebook Fiction category. It is compelling fiction inspired by a true story. "Thirsty Planet," was a finalist for the prestigious Montaigne Medal award for thought provoking writing. "Dementia Diary" describes the emotional reality of being a caregiver to a loved one with dementia, and of dealing with caregiver burnout. "Nanobe (Harry Grouch Mystery Series #2)" is a hospital based medical thriller based on Tell's years as a hospital CEO and Public Health executive. Robert Tell was born in Brooklyn, New York, and educated at Columbia University. He now lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and winters in Boynton Beach, Florida. Tell is grateful that his parents didn't name him "William." He last saw snow in 2004.

Smashwords Interview

When did you first start writing?
My undergraduate degree is in English Literature. I discovered and admired the great British poets like Keats, Coleridge, Shelley, Burns, Blake, Donne, Wordsworth and, of course, Shakespeare. I began writing poetry then, in my twenties in a (futile) attempt to produce poetry of similar quality. I did get some of it published and even won some awards. In recent years I've focused more on fiction and enjoy creating the colorful characters for my novels and stories. My graduate education in Public Health at Columbia University, and my years in hospital management, have influenced at least one of my novels, several of my short stories, and some unique, medically oriented poetry.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is actually a two book series (with more to come) introducing the cantankerous private eye, Harry Grouch, and his lover/sidekick, Judy Pacas. Each book is independent of the other, but each story develops the character and skills of Harry Grouch in a way sure to please his growing list of fans. The first book, "The Witch of Maple Park," was published in 2013. The second in the series, "Nanobe," was published in 2014.

The "Witch of Maple Park," is based on a true story that I find absolutely fascinating. I did tons of research into the historical 1843 case of Polly Bodine, a young woman accused of gruesomely murdering her sister-in-law and niece on Staten Island with an axe. It was a case to rival the famous Lizzie Borden story although it never got the same attention nationally. In New York, however, it dominated the news for several years. Edger Allen Poe wrote an editorial about it, P.T. Barnum, the famous entertainer and con man placed a hideous and bloody axe-wielding wax statue outside the courthouse where Polly Bodine was being tried. He labeled her "The Witch of Staten Island." The media demonized Polly and the public screamed for her blood. Polly Bodine was tried three times and eventually exonerated. The murder was never solved. This case was just crying out for a fictional treatment of the story, so I reinvented it in 1993 Michigan, created another Polly as the prime suspect, and brought the tales of both Polly's, 1843 and 1993, together in what I hope will be a surprising way for my readers. What fun to watch Harry Grouch untangle the mystery!

"Nanobe," also required huge research into the scientific and clinical worlds of microbes responsible for a condition known as Rapidly Progressive Dementia. In case you are wondering, a nanobe is a tiny organism that may or may not be alive but, if living, would be the smallest form of life, 1/10 the size of the smallest known bacteria. So what's a nanobe doing in a Harry Grouch mystery book? Well, terrified neurosurgery patients at Bard Memorial Hospital are dying from Rapidly Progressive Dementia and none of the doctors or nurses know why! Is it a natural attack by a weird new pathogen? A Nanobe? Harry Grouch says "No. It looks like murder in the operating room!" The inspiration for the story came from an actual case at an American hospital in which neurosurgical patients were dying from an initially unknown cause that turned out, after extensive study, to be a nanobe. Harry Grouch is hired by Bard Memorial Hospital to figure it out and, along the way, the reader is introduced to many of the inner workings of a modern hospital.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Robert Tell online

Where to buy in print


Nanobe, A Harry Grouch Mystery
Series: Harry Grouch Mysteries. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 80,120. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
When 6 hospital patients die mysteriously from Rapidly Progressive Dementia, Harry Grouch is hired to investigate the cause. Is it a biological accident involving a new and mysterious pathogen, or is it murder using a unique murder weapon, a nanobe: a tiny organism that may or may not be alive but, if living, would be the smallest form of life, 1/10 the size of the smallest known bacteria?
The Witch of Maple Park (A Harry Grouch Mystery)
Series: Harry Grouch Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 74,200. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Courtroom
An Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize finalist and 1st Runner Up for Ebook Fiction. This compelling fiction is inspired by the true story of an 1843 accused axe killer branded as the "Witch of Staten Island." In 1993, history is reimagined with the accused killer re-branded the "Witch of Maple Park." Surprise awaits as our dour private eye unravels the astonishing parallels in the two tales.
Police Story (and Other Spooky Story Poems)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 3,710. Language: English. Published: January 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Poetry, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Humor
Read these lighthearted verse adventures out loud on Halloween, around the campfire, or anytime just for fun. A Werewolf stalks New York in "Police Story." "Gorfagog" is a thirty-ton monster frog. "Why the Willow Weeps" explains the mythological origins of the weeping willow. "Higby Hyscorer," is off to the moon again. And in "Halloween Golf," a skull is found in the bunker at the 14th hole. Enjoy
The Medical Director's Divorce and Other Stories
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 32,430. Language: English. Published: December 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Medical, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
A baby with breast cancer? A disgruntled morgue attendant! A medical chief who self-destructs! Today's complex hospitals are places where life and death events occur around the clock, where love affairs happen, where ambition gets thwarted, and where greed and ego can motivate action—just like in other human activities. This is a collection of dramatic tales about hospital staff. And much more.
Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 38,800. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Elder care, Nonfiction » Relationships and Family » Aging
For 15 years, Robert Tell was his widowed Mom's caregiver as her mind and personality disappeared into the fog of dementia. He tells the tale with compassion and humor in this full length, fast moving memoir. His lesson: Caregiver burnout can be helped. If you are watching your loved one vanish into the sinkhole of Alzheimer's Disease (or another dementia), "Dementia Diary" will lift your spirit
Thirsty Planet, A Novel
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 95,520. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Political
In 2121 Moss Leder flees across Canada one heart-pounding step ahead of his enemies. Earth is in trouble. People kill for drinking water. Leder's innovative time booth holds the key to the planet's renewal. His enemies fear his scheme will destroy their black market water cartel and try to stop him. An epic battle in the ancient tunnel under the Detroit River determines his destiny, and Earth's.

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Smashwords book reviews by Robert Tell

  • Meditations: Between the Light and the Storm on Aug. 28, 2012

    This is a remarkable little book whether you currently meditate, would like to begin, or just enjoy reading tranquil and lovely prose with a focus on the natural world. Marcia Borell's language is superbly crafted to meet all of these needs. It is a beautiful prose poem from beginning to end.