19 Aug

Crimes In Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

From the day we are brought into the world until the day we are unceremoniously kicked out, we are marked by each passing moment. We are carved like soapstone into our ever growing imperfection by intrinsic, personal events. A map of personal history. We are but the lives we live.

As a toddler, my family lived outside Covington, KY on a horse farm. My memories of that time are most likely manifest from stories told and pictures seen, though some seem so crystal clear when I think upon them.  Too clear not to be my own. I don’t know, I wasn’t much taller than a knot on a log.

What does this have to do with CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA? Nothing and everything.

My folks split when I was three and through out my childhood, bolstered by mom’s venomous hate towards my absent father, it marked me more than it should have. It grew from a scratch to gash to near abscessed pain and anger. By the time I was 15, I didn’t much like either of my parents.

Frank Bill‘s book CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA is chock full of wonderful stories about people marred by experience, circumstance and isolation. Most have little vindication or happy resolve, but each carves a dark image of life in southern Indiana.

I was 25 when I met my father again for the first time. At the insistence of my young bride, I called him from a hotel room just outside of Cincinnati. I half expected him to have horns and a tail or eyes pitch coal black and filled with evil. I was awash of emotions, all including hate, disgust and anger. That all but melted away when I opened the hotel room door. He was my blood.

I had gotten about halfway through CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA when I read “The Old Mechanic” which depicted a young Frank meeting his estranged grandfather for the first time. It immediately pulled at those old scars. The memories of a fatherless youth and reconnecting with a past I never really had. It reminded me that we are very much the definition of our past, but our past doesn’t have to define our future.

CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA is rich with local experience and setting, but the characters’ lives are very much the stitches of an unraveling patchwork Americana. For better or worse we are the lives we live.

28 Jul

Frank Bill and Write Where You’re At

I had the pleasure this last Spring to be offered a chance to read an advance copy of Frank Bill’s CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA, a collection of short stories, Frank’s first book. I was thrilled, though I have to admit when the offer came up I’d been angling for a copy of DONNYBROOK, Frank’s second book and first novel. I had read an excerpt DONNYBROOK on the Do Some Damage blog the previous Spring and was deeply envious of anyone who’d gotten an early peak of that glory. Bastards.

CRIMES is an exceptional collection of story from Frank Bill’s heart and home and if I could I’d buy out the entire first run, giving each copy away because this book needs to be read. The reality check is I can’t. I did pre-order a copy when it first became available and as you know I really don’t need another copy. So I’d like to give it to you. One of you at least.

Would you like a free copy of CRIME IN SOUTHERN INDIANA?

If not, I suppose I can just put it on my shelf never to be read. Collect dust and when Armageddon comes and all the electronics in the world are destroyed by EMP or solar flares, some zealot will find it on my abandoned copy and devote an entire religion to the House of Grit. I think Frank would like that.

So you want a free copy? Well you’re going to have to work for it. Write for it.

In CRIMES there are several stories that are interrelated, tied together, but if you’re really reading the stories you’ll see a character that ties them altogether. A character with a powerful, but silent voice. Southern Indiana, with all her rural harshness and nurture. Like Daniel Woodrell’s Ozarks or Dennis Lehane’s Boston, Frank Bill captures the heart of Southern Indiana, elevating her above just a setting or a location.

So if you really want to win a copy of CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA, I give you this task:

Write a story that lives, breaths and could only exist in your own back yard. Fill it with local color and give your hometown a voice that walks effortlessly among its characters. Your story doesn’t have to be a crime story, but does need to be a good story.

Deadline: Thursday, August 25, 2011.
Word Count: 2000.
Genre: Open.
Prize: A copy of Frank Bill’s CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA.

Winner announced August 30, 2011.

Update: I failed to mention how to submit your story. In order to enter your story post it to your blog or other public venue so it can be read and commented on by readers and other entrants. If you don’t have a post location, contact me.