An Open Letter from Jim


One of the questions I am most often asked is, “How did you get started as a storyteller?” The short answer is that I was lucky enough to have a father who told me stories. Long before we were old enough to read the original books for ourselves, my brother and I knew all sorts of stories from hearing my father tell them.

My father didn’t use different voices for each character, as I often do; nor did he get up and act out the characters’ movements, as I sometimes do in live performances. Like any good storyteller, however, he could bring a story to life because he instinctively knew the most important secret: he told us stories he loved. His love and understanding for the characters and their stories came through clearly and turned us on to those stories. I learned to read early in order to be able to find out more about The Three Musketeers, Greek Myths, history tales, and many others I heard him tell.

We’d sit before the fire on dark winter nights, or on our screened porch on warm summer evenings, listening to his voice in the gathering darkness and watching fireflies making lazy circles of light in the shadows a few feet away. The magic of those evenings has never left me, has shaped me, has set me on a path I continue to walk all these years later with the greatest joy. Whether I’m telling stories to a handful of friends in a living room, performing for thousands of people in a theatre, or creating a recording in a studio, I want my listeners to feel the enchantment I felt so long ago.

I still tell many stories I learned from my father, and they hold special meaning for me because of him. My own daughter now carries the same sorts of memories of my telling stories to her, and knows which ones come to her via her grandfather. She and my wife, and all the friends with whom I have shared stories and who have given me new stories to tell, still are sharing in the magic my father set in motion all those years ago. That’s part of the wonder of telling stories you love.


Jim Weiss
Lynch Station, VA