Darren Shell started writing in the spring of 2005. His first effort was a simple story about Dale Hollow Lake for his daughter, who was then ten years old. “It was crude and simple, but heart-felt and tender,” Shell says. “It was a ghost tale about the making of Dale Hollow Lake and how they had to dig up old graveyards during the construction.”
Several people ended up reading this first effort, and many more began asking for copies. Because this first story was so well received, Shell wrote a prequel to accompany it. The reception for this writing was as popular as the first. Building on that success, Shell wrote six additional short stories that all fit into the first. These were eventually combined into a comb-bound book he printed himself and then sold. This book was also published in perfect-bound form, but is now out of print. “To this day, I still get requests for that book,” Shell says. “I’ve sold more than 500 copies, and occasionally I still find the need to print one from my computer for a friend or family member.”
After this success, Shell broadened his scope by writing a series of historical stories for local newspapers. This collection was then published in book form titled Stories From Dale Hollow, and sold close to one thousand copies. These stories prompted Shell to start his company, Gravedigger Tours. Each season, he gives guided “ghost” tours of the park in the center of Dale Hollow. “It’s a historical tour,” Shell says, “and my character, one of the lake’s old gravediggers from 1942 when the lake was made, tells all the tales. It’s a crowd favorite and has earned me the nickname ‘Gravedigger.’” In the fall, a full-fledged set of tours are set up and tourists and friends come from miles around to hear the Gravedigger’s storytelling. This is also a great time for Shell to sell copies of his books.
Shell’s latest work, The Big Ones—The World Record Smallmouth Bass of Dale Hollow Lake, deals with a different type of lake history. The book tells of the controversy surrounding the number-one world record smallmouth bass, profiles the number two and three record holders, gives the reader a glimpse of the men behind the those catches and includes several fishing experts’ top 10 tips for catching smallmouth bass. Shell has also set aside 50 signed copies of the book for charity. Dubbed “Fishing For Charity,” Shell’s goal is to donate a total of $5,000 in charitable funds to charities chosen by the people buying the special books.
Darren Shell lives and works at his family-run marina on Dale Hollow Lake in middle Tennessee.
Where to find Darren Shell online
Where to buy in print
The Angel's Share
Some say Angels really do steal a little whiskey and wine from those antiquated old oak barrels. Some say “The Angel’s Share” is never really missed in the whole process. It’s a good thing, too. I made my whole life out of being one of those little angels, thieving from a man I truly despised. And that man’s daughter…God I loved her. She and that old riverboat meant everything to me.
A Stones Throw
The Upper Cumberland Region of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky are home to some of the world's finest marble shooters. Local games, played since childhood, still fill the yards and fields of this area in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains.
No Safety Bars and Other Stories
From “The Fountain of Youth, to “The Pool of Happiness” to even the lessons learned on an old carnival roller coaster in “No Safety Bars” Shell delves into the “whys and what-ifs” of our inner emotions in this collection of short stories. Each page poses questions to the heart and mind.
When I started sanding on that old dilapidated wooden boat I'd just purchased, I had no Idea how wrapped up I become with the words penciled into that old journal. I'd found the journal beneath the side seat. Every sanding of Mahogany and every turn of wrench that made me want to apply another layer of paint to that beautiful June heap in my barn had me wondering...
Who the heck is private Henny?
Against Heavy Odds
Against Heavy Odds is the story of how little guy Eddie Swanson ended up becoming a world champion power lifter. This “little guy makes it big” tale will make you an Eddie Swanson fan and have you cheering for all the things he stands for in life.
Good money and bad change hands in this playfully naughty story. This crazy train wreck of a tale will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering how it all comes together. Pop open a Heineken and join Master Daniel Vines as he learns many of life’s important lessons via a simple little hand-written note…penned by his grandmother long before she died.
A wonderful trilogy tale about the tiny leafy stick-like creatures of the forest. In the medieval times when trolls and wizards still lurked near the cities of man, cozy castles and monasteries stood tall to war and treachery. The Leaflings help mankind fight the many battles to save the inland city of Cobblestone and the Leafling's lifestyle. Warriors and kind-hearted monks join in the fight.
Short story with a great plot twist. Raw, hot, playful, and smart-assed—all my favorites! This short and sexy romp across the country had me wishing for more wishes!—Arlis Sells…East Clay Times.
“Darren Shell…I don’t know whether to laugh out loud or call you names. This is no chick read, but I still chuckled my way through the naughties…”— Dawn Elkins, Artesian Reader Reviews
The Old Lady of the Lake - Stories from the Obey River Valley
A charming collection of fictional stories based on local folklore of the Obey River Valley, Clay County, TN. The names of all the locations are historically correct, as are the overviews of the local history surrounding the area but by and large, the main characters are fiction. If you are a historian or a genealogist, don’t look here unless you are bored on a rainy day!
The Prophesy Rhymes of Tolk's Tomb
This sequel tale to The Prophesy Rhymes of Tal Kator is just as riveting as the first. It tells of young Jon the monk and his rise to the top of Cobblestone Abbey. With the King and his men hot on his trail, Jon unravels the ancient secrets hidden in the rhymes of the Prophet Tolk, to help him find the lost Tomb and its mysterious contents. Join Jon in his quest to save the faith of the people.
The Prophesy Rhymes of Tal Kator
In the beautiful woodland setting of Tal Kator, a small colony of Leaflings lives a peaceful and vibrant life. But once they are found by a vile and disgusting old troll, the peace in Tal Kator comes to an end and the floor of the Deep Forest is about to erupt. Will the ancient writings of the Literati' of old foretell the future of the Leaflings? Will peace in Tal Kator cease because of trolls
The Big Ones — The World Record Smallmouth Bass of Dale Hollow Lake
From the World Record Smallie caught by D. L. Hayes in 1955, to Paul Beal’s 1986 wonder caught on eight pound test line, this book showcases the history of the 10 Dale Hollow Lake bronze-backs listed in the world record. Shell shows Smallmouth fishing’s past and offers theories about its future. Comments from some of smallmouth’s greats, including Billy Westmorland, Stephen Headrick, more.
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