Interview with Frank Bill
Lou Pendergrast: Congratulations on your successfully first book Crimes in Southern Indiana and now your new novel for 2013 Donnybrook.
How was the seed for this story planted?
Frank Bill :
Several things. Back in the mid-90’s I trained in traditional chinese martial arts. One of the guys I trained with always talked about these underground fights that people he worked with talked about. Of course we never went to any. But that stuck with me. In 2000 METH was really eating a hole in the heartland. In my county and the surrounding counties. I’d a friend from high school who’d gotten sucked into it and never came out. He lost everything. The other thing was good paying jobs, they were and are disappearing from the working class. I wanted to write about people that others pretend do not exist while showing some inner workings of the the struggling. But also, I wanted to show real MEN. Not the tanning bed models and gym rats and gadget geeks. REAL MEN. Guys who held a trade or a skill-set. Drank whiskey. Smoked cigarettes. Knew their history. Could fight. Curse and spit. The HARD STUFF! The masculine types.
Lou Pendergrast: Your cast of characters, why and how did you choose them?
Angus came first. Jarhead didn’t come into play until near the end of the first draft. I needed a guy just as bad ass as Angus. Jarhead Earl. And I needed a hero. The others came, as they always do, from fears and the unruly people or persons we cross in our span of living day to day life, past and present.
Lou Pendergrast: Are you working on a new story now?
I have two more books that’ll be published by FSG. The Salvaged and the Savage & Back to the Dirt.
Lou Pendergrast: Jack Kerouac was part of a Beat Generation ‘the Beatniks’, which generation could this book and writers like William Gay, Harry Crews, Larry Brown, Joe Lansdale, Daniel Woodrell, Donald Ray Pollock and many others be from?
The working class or the struggling class. Larry Brown called it Grit Lit. Daniel Woodrell coined the term Country Noir. I like to call it writing with BALLS. Its masculine writing from a male’s point of view. I’m really not into the hugs and kisses.
Lou Pendergrast: Awesome! Love that writing with balls! What inspired you to put pen to paper and start writing and when was this?
I read a book called Fight Club back in 1999 or 2000. One of the first fiction books I’d read. I was on nightshift. And that pushed me to read everything by Chuck Palahniuk and it turned me onto a lot of other writers. I’d always kept a journal. Thought, I can do this. I began filling notebooks up with story lines and ideas and character sketches. But it wasn’t until about 2004 or 2006 that I started to create real stories that could be read. And like most writers, I wanted to do something more with my life than eat dirt for a living. I wanted to write about the dirt eaters and their struggles.
Lou Pendergrast: What advice would you give to budding writers on the road to writing, be it a short story or novel?
Frank Bill: You have to open a story with something that excites you just as much as it does the reader. And every line after that has to be as good as the next. It takes time. A lot of wasted pages. And you do this by writing and reading. But you also have to edit and rewrite and proof the hell out of what you’re working on.
Lou Pendergrast: Music sometimes sets the mood for thinking and musing. A few writers play music while in the process of thinking up ideas or while writing, are you one of them?
Frank Bill: Not when I’m at the computer. But when I’m writing freehand, I do crank out the tunes. It sets a tone or mood.
Lou Pendergrast: Songs tell great stories, which ones do you particularly like?
Frank Bill: Anything by The Drive-By Truckers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, RL Burnside, Hayes Carll, Todd Snider, Slayer, Slipknot, Lincoln Durham, Scott H. Biram, Hank Sr., Bob Dylan, too many to name…
Lou Pendergrast: Is there any major project one day you would like to tackle and write about?
Frank Bill: Yeah, but I won’t say what it is. I don’t give my ideas away.
Lou Pendergrast: Which authors and books you read and re-read many times and why?
For me these, (authors) books will hold the test of time. Their words are strong and their stories are told unlike any other. Everyone of these just grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let up until the last page.
Thanks for having this chat, I am certain Donnybrook will do well and be a mustread for 2013 when it is released.
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Visit the Authors website : House of Grit