Frank Bill Interviewed

Frank Bill

Frank Bill

Ten years ago, Frank Bill was a frustrated factory worker, when he started writing. Focusing his fascinations and knowledge on the place he grew up, Corydon, Indiana, Bill began writing stories about people who populate some of the darker parts of the heartland. His work began appearing on-line, where his vivid energetic prose and distinct raw voice grabbed readers’ attention with its surprising hard-boiled punch. Building a readership in the crime fiction community, Bill’s work has been gaining a wider reputation for it’s lean, mean, lyrical depiction of rural life. In September, Farrar Straus Giroux published Bill’s debut collection Crimes in Southern Indiana, and Frank and I spoke prior to its release.

Tim Hennessy: I really enjoyed the book. I’ve been following your work for the last few years over at Plots with Guns and Beat to a Pulp. It’s been really, really exciting to see the success you’ve been having.

Frank Bill: Really? Thank you.

TH: Growing up here in Wisconsin, the idea of being a writer or writing for a living is looked at with a lot of skepticism at best. Am I right to imagine that Indiana and Wisconsin have that in common? What was it like trying to pursue something that for most people seemed like a strange thing to be preoccupied with?

FB: Ah, you know I’ve got an odd way to answer it for me, I don’t want to come across as odd. I’m kind of a quiet person. I kinda keep to myself so, other than my wife, I have just a few select friends every now and then that I would mention things. A buddy’d be like, “What are you doing?” “I’m busy writing.” “What are you writing?” that kinda thing, but yeah you do get: “Well, where have you published at?” “Well, I haven’t published anything,” or you get “What are you writing about?” or things of that nature. You do get looked at kinda weird. Especially my father. [Laughs.] You know whenever I started getting things published, and I’d tell him about it he’d kinda like try to find out where it came from because as a kid I grew up reading comic books. I read some books of course, but I read a lot of comic books, watched a lot of movies with my father. He was a big Clint Eastwood fan — he still is a Clint Eastwood fan.

My mother, she’s actually been pretty supportive about it. She thought it was neat. Of course she didn’t understand that just because I was getting things published on-line and every now and then something in print, she’s just thinking major circulation type things. It’s like, “Well, it’s not like that Mom, there’s more to it than that, you know.”[Laughs.] But yeah, you do get that weird thing, especially when someone asks you where you’re published and you say, “Nowhere.” They’re just kinda like “Oh-kay…” [Laughs.] “What is this guy doing? What do you think you’re going to accomplish?” You defiantly get that weirdness about it. And my wife has always been supportive about it. She’s doesn’t read very much of what I write, but she’s never been like, “You shouldn’t do that or why are you doing that?”

TH: In your childhood did you ever expect to be a writer? When did it cross your mind, that you can remember having the drive to look further into it?

FB: I kept a journal as a kid, but I never really thought of it as I was gonna write a book. Probably in my mid-twenties, early twenties. My buddy who’s a cop, he wasn’t a cop at the time, we studied Chinese Martial Arts together. That’s when I kept finding out that there weren’t a lot of traditional things from traditional teachers and I’m like, “You know somebody needs to write these things down. One of these days I’m going to write a book about this.” I didn’t really read fiction. I’d read a lot of non-fiction, things about fighting or wanting to understand other fighters. Even just Muhammad Ali, somebody like that, what they came from, I guess is the reason why I did identify with non-fiction more or less because it was true. I’d read a lot of that and Chinese beliefs, things like Taoism and Buddhism and things of that nature. I always wanted to know where people’s history came from.

TH: You’ve worked the last fourteen years, I thought I read, in a paint factory?

FB: [Laughs.] I actually work for a factory that makes additives that go into paint. What we make goes into paint, you could basically call what we’re into pigment coating, I guess would be the technical term. …I worked in the factory for fourteen years now. I guess I’ve been with them now sixteen years; this will be my sixteenth year once we get through it. I actually work in the warehouse now. I’ve been in the warehouse for two years cause once the economy went to crap, floor jobs got cut and I got bumped from night shift to day work. Actually, I prefer being on night shift getting three and four days off a week… [Laughs.] I liked that better, as far as writing goes I have three or four days off. I’d stay up all night and write. And, you know, when I got up during the day I could go if I needed to do some research or I had an idea and wasn’t for sure about how a setting looked in my mind, because I always set everything around where I live. I could drive around and take notes or even take pictures and take notes just to make sure and verify that it is what I want to use.

TH: Man, that definitely gets to be a grind. Coming home and writing that definitely can be a frustrating process.

FB: [Laughs.] Oh yeah. It is.

TH: Finding the energy to do it. Especially since, early on you went the route of, instead of getting advanced degrees you applied yourself to just studying in a less formal manner. What advantage did you feel you had doing it that way instead of taking a couple classes or going for an MFA?

FB: I never took any writing classes, ever. I never stepped foot in a college classroom. I guess as an advantage you pretty much have a rawer voice maybe as far as what you’re going to speak about or way your going to explain something, but it probably took me… forever to realize you know, when I would write that you’ve got a beginning, middle and an end. I think a lot of beginning writers will end up pumping out twenty or thirty pages of a story and it’s just a muddled mess. It’s just like they’re just warming up and they don’t really realize it. Of course you’re not realizing too that eventually you’re gonna have to go back through and learn how to edit things and, [Laughs.] learn what’s going to work and what’s not. What actually is useful to the story and what’s taking something out of left. From that aspect, if I had been in a classroom I would have probably learned that quicker, but I don’t know that as far as writing style how I would have written. I don’t know if I would have more of a natural voice.

TH: You have a very distinct voice. You can definitely, any of your work you can pick out very distinctly. It was very interesting to see the evolution of a lot of the stories having read some of the on-line incarnations of them to what’s in the book.

FB: Oh, cool! Thank you. [Laughs.] I’m glad you caught that.

TH: What for you, do you think, having not had maybe in the beginning the community of people or even having someone kind of directing you–

FB: It was frustrating!

TH: I imagine.

FB: You know, in the beginning I was such a big Chuck Palahniuk fan. He just has a lyrical voice. Some of the things he writes, it’s something you heard somebody else say or your friends. It’s like why didn’t I think of that? Why didn’t I write that down? That’s kinda what drew me to him. And then he has this slant on society, where it’s like he’s so on the money about what he’s talking about.

Then of course when I started reading Larry Brown, it just reminded me a lot of where I came from and how I grew up. If I could ever take the things that are familiar to me and do what he does with story I’d be really happy. It took me a long time to fuse those things together. That’s just part of writing. You just have to waste pages and waste words. You have to read and read. Hunter S. Thompson always talked about when he learned how to write, he sat down and wrote out or typed out Hemingway books. Those taught him sentence structure and basically I guess, plot points and things of that nature. I even read where Donald Ray Pollack had done the same thing too.

I’ve never sat down and done that. I got to where I was reading a lot. Of course, Chuck Palahniuk, Larry Brown, Jason Starr — especially his early stuff, and Jim Thompson. I would just sit down. I’d read their book all the way through once. And when I’d go back through the second time, I’d just kinda read it, enjoy it, but I’d start to catch things. I just really started to break things down a lot. [Laughs.] I’d even go so far as to actually write notes in books that I’d read. It was just something that I did; I’m not saying everybody can learn that way. It’s just something that helped me to teach myself to understand.

TH: Larry Brown, I know talked in some interviews about there being an apprenticeship time basically. To kinda get the foundation of storytelling down and figure out how to use different elements of storytelling. What obstacles did you or did you not expect once you started getting your stories published?

FB: Well, it’s kinda weird cause everything happened real quick. The first story that I ever got published was called “The Accident” and the original version I wrote in the second person — first and second person narrative. Actually, I wrote that story in a day. I spent twelve or sixteen hours writing it, because I guess I’d finally gotten to a point from reading and writing a lot to where things just started to click. It just kinda came out and after it came out I sat there edited it all day. Just back and forth, switching sentences around, making cuts. Making it really, really tight. But, it didn’t occur to me that I was having this Aha! Moment. I didn’t know who to send it to and I sent it to a couple of print magazines and then I sent it to a couple of online magazines that I thought might take it. And, an online magazine took it. I think it’s out of print now, it’s called The Circle Magazine, they actually did a print version and a web version and I made the web version. I was ecstatic. [Laughs.] I probably wore that editor out sending emails about what they needed, or you know, that I’d have to sign a contract or anything like that cause I didn’t know. [Laughs.] It was probably three, four years later before I got something else published.

The next story I had was “The Coon Hunters Noir” and after I’d written it, really what it really need was a good edit, but I ended up sending to Hardboiled Magazine and sent it to a few paper magazines. It got denied of course. Gary Lovisi at Hardboiled Magazine really liked it, but there was something he couldn’t put his finger on. He didn’t know what it was, that it was a little overwritten but he didn’t know where. Maybe he just didn’t have the time, I’m sure he gets a large volume of manuscripts to look at, it’s pretty hard to do major editing on something. So it probably sat, oh man, it sat quite a long time cause I didn’t know what to do with it either. But that’s something that I actually learned was that after you write a story, sometimes the longer it sits, even though it’s hard to do especially whenever you’re eager, the longer it sits and you come back to it you get a set of fresh eyes to it. It’s like an immediate thing “Oh, why’d I write that?” “And right here, this needs to be cut.” You kinda recognize what the story is and what the obstacles are and what doesn’t belong and what does belong. And that’s basically what happened, I mean that story probably sat six months or a year before I came back to it. Actually, I came back to that story after I wrote “Old Testament Wisdom”.

TH: That’s a really great story.

FB: Yeah, a lot of that [Laughs.] is based on some elements of truth. I flipped flopped a lot of stuff around that’s kinda where I really realized I could write about some of the things I knew about and interested me as writer. As far as being able to tell the story of I guess, more of your blue collar, working class people and maybe actually do them some justice in a sense. When I started writing my voice was so sarcastic. I was still learning how to write but I came off very, very sarcastic and I was younger also. There’s something about when you hit the age thirty you kind of start to mellow out and mature. [Laughs.]

TH: I’ve heard that. [Laughs] I’ve heard a few people say that. I remember a class when I was in high school, a teacher had on a video and John Grisham and a few other writers were talking. I remember Grisham specifically said something about how after thirty that’s really the time when people should start considering writing, not before. And I just remember being so pissed off. Not at all appreciating or understanding what he was getting at and definitely as I’ve gotten older, [Laughs.] I certainly think I understand more what he was getting at.

FB: You go through a change. I don’t know what it is, it’s a slow metamorphosis to adulthood, I guess. Some people maybe don’t always do that. [Laughs.] But it does happen to some people. I’d written that story and the story I’d written before it was “Trespassing Between Heaven and Hell” and I guess that’s when I finally found what I felt comfortable writing about and I felt comfortable with my voice plus I was pissed off. I went through all these years of writing and not getting published. I wanted to write crime stories and I wanted to write literary stories and I couldn’t get either one published. And I was kinda like, what if there was this mixture of voice? Cause I like literary fiction, I like crime fiction, but I like language.

TH: So often I think crime stories seem like they’re taking place on one of the coasts and a lot of fantastic stories are out there in between. In your work you get perspectives from criminals. You get it from police and everyone in between. Did the crime genre give you the framework to explore these elements or was it more vice versa?

FB: I don’t know, because when I started the thing was I never really considered genre. When I read Jason Starr I can compare him to Hemingway because they to me are very similar. Only Starr always added this element that Jim Thompson — he was so far ahead of his time when you read [Thompson’s] novels now it’s like, they seem modern day for the crimes that are committed, but when he was writing those back in the day that was pretty racy. Some of the things that he went into, those things were probably going on back then but wasn’t as open as things are now. Especially, with the internet and everything. It’s kinda hard to really, I don’t know if you want to say gross people out or offend them, but it’s pretty hard to get really offended anymore with everything you see. [Laughs.]

TH: There certainly are a lot of literary authors, and it’s too bad they get lumped in one or the other, guys like Daniel Woodrell, Larry Brown. Crimes certainly occur in their stories.

FB: I think all good literary fiction has that element of crime in it. It’s pretty hard not to have some type of criminal activity in a literary novel. I’ll tell you, a friend that I worked with for a number of years, we’d always talk cause he’d read a lot of my work, he said, “You know, to be human is to be dark anyways. People go through bad things all the time.” I guess that kind of stuck with me, because I grew up around– a lot of bad things went on, I always heard bad stories. You know, family history that type of thing. Of course as a kid I always thought it’s a normal life, it’s just kinda how it was as far as being a kid. You know people die. You have car wrecks, whatever, people become alcoholics. You know that’s just the way your uncle is…[Laughs.] It’s accepted. You don’t really think about it as people could tell stories about that. That’s what I identified the most with Larry Brown. It reminded of the two worlds I knew. Here’s my father who hung out at the VFW. He served in the Vietnam War and here was my grandfather, who never served in a war, but he raised coon dogs and he hunted all the time. He liked to go out and fish and he had a small farm. But, there were also these dark spots in both their histories that I never learned about until I got much older. It just reminded me so much of what Larry writes about. And even later on, from reading Larry Brown I discovered Tom Franklin. I read Poachers, and man, that really just hit the nail on the head for me. I was like, this guy’s got it going on. [Laughs.]

TH: When you were putting the collection together did you imagine having as many interrelated characters and some of the reoccurring themes?

FB: I wanted to early on because when I wrote “Trespassing Between Heaven and Hell” I knew I had something good. It got accepted someplace, but then the magazine went out of business. They had a contest every year and I’d placed third place in the contest and got paid for it. They still paid me even though they didn’t publish it and went under. After I’d written it I wrote “Old Testament Wisdom” and “Rough Company”. There was a story before “Rough Company”, “Rabbit in the Lettuce Patch” which is part of an unpublished novel I’ve got. It’s more of a rough draft, but I pulled that story from there. There’s two different versions of “Tweakers”– there’s one that went on Beat to a Pulp and then there’s the one that’s actually in the book. The one that’s in the book was the actual story and it came out of the same novel. I guess that’s where I kinda found my voice cause I wrote like a 300 page novel and nobody would publish it, of course like I said it, just needed a good edit.

When was writing I was just thinking sense of place, so I set these characters up around Harrison County and that was going to be their stomping ground. The more I started writing different characters I just kept thinking the problems that are going on in the area are some of the same problems going on across the United States in small towns. Some of those stories because of where they came from, I was thinking of different time periods as far as 70s or 80s or 90s. Some I thought were more modern day. I never would have thought about that until the editors at FSG and myself talked. That was one of the questions “Do you see these stories being connected?” I was like, “Yeah”. They were like, “Could you see more of the characters being more connected?” and I was like “Yeah.” Of course at time I had written all those in terms of just thinking they’d be connected by place. I hadn’t really thought as much as characters floating from story to story sometimes. That was one of the big things we worked when we did edits. The notes were great. They were just what I needed. An editor [Laughs.] is very important when it comes to writing, especially when you’re on the same page.

TH: What were some of the things you learned from working with an editor?

FB: It was more simple details that maybe you don’t think about. Maybe you need more description here. Maybe there was a question that wasn’t answered about a character. There were a lot of little questions, mainly because the editors lived up north. Buttons on a pair of military fatigues, my editors were like, “We’re not trying to sound stupid but do fatigues really have buttons on them?” I’m kinda like, damn, my father was (Laughs.) a military guy. I’ve always been around military fatigues, that type of thing. “Well, yeah,” I said, “You know maybe some of the really old ones didn’t. I know from the eighties on to now they always had button fly.”

The other thing was even though you’re writing fiction they really want to get the facts of the place you’re writing about. Early on you know, I’d be writing a story and I’d think, do I really want to use Leavenworth, Indiana? Well, if I do maybe I’ll just spell it wrong so if it ever gets published or anything I don’t want people to look at it as well, he was writing about our town, that type of thing. So when we were going through edits, it was kind of like, “Hey, this isn’t how you spell this or this isn’t how you spell that.” By then I was kind of like, this doesn’t really matter. This is a fictional story and I’m just using the setting.

I liked working with an editor, to me it makes the story that much stronger. I’ve heard of some writers that don’t like working with editors and I don’t know, I’ve liked the editors I’ve worked with at FSG. The thing with editors is, if you’re on the same page, they’re fans of your work. They’re just trying to make things better and you don’t have to take their comments. They’ll tell you: “You don’t have to do what we say, but we’re just trying to make this as good and as strong as it can be.” Plus you have to think, that other people are gonna read it and you have to be open minded about what you’re doing.

TH: That was one of the really interesting things about the difference of some of the stories from on-line to the print version. Just little things you could see tightening that really brought out the best in the work.

FB: It’s kinda weird, you read Crimes in Southern Indiana, I’ve probably at least read each of those stories ten or twelve times, reading them over and over trying to get through edits and stuff like that. Then you get a second round of edits, just trying to tighten it up a little bit more. You go through it again then you send it back. Then you go to copy edits. The editors worked with me, they liked the way I write and there were no problems. Their thing was word choices, “Well, you used this word too many times already. Can you think of different description?” So then you think okay, how can I look at this? What other word could I use that is similar and gives the same effect or same description?

On the second pass, it was actually better than the first, don’t ask me how, but it was kinda like– cause I was having to sit down six eight hours a time, taking my time reading it– it was like my own work was pulling me in, making me interested in it, not that it didn’t before. I’d never actually been able to sit down and actually read where there weren’t scribbles. Now I was just kinda proofing it making sure there wasn’t anything I wanted to change. I was just getting pulled into the stories as I was reading through it. Just allowed to focus on the story. I think I did what I wanted to do and that was I didn’t want to write anything that was boring. I wanted somebody to be able to pick up a book and turn to any story in there and say, “Damn! This is…” if they like that type of thing, you know?

TH: Right. It’s certainly not a book you get bored in. One of the things that I think that would draw anybody to your work is that you have a really dynamic way of writing action scenes. What do you think should go into writing a good action scene?

FB: Into a good action scene?

TH: If you’re going to write an action scene how do you try to visualize it to write it down?

FB: You know, Neil Smith, I learned a lot from him too as an editor when he would edit my stories. Of course, [Laughs.] he tells me now he was trying to be too much of a writing critiquer as far as the way he knows how to write. He would always tell me to visualize things as if it were a movie and that always made me think of movies that I watched. The one person that always draws me back to movies is David Fincher because of the way he uses a camera. He puts you right up into it, he makes you wonder where he’s going with it and things just kind of explode. Especially, in Fight Club or Panic Room something like that. But, for a good action scene, whatever puts you right in the middle of the action.

If you’re fighting, I think about how it feels whenever you actually hit somebody. Whether it’s with your knuckles, your fingers, or your palms. What type of person, do they know how to fight? Even what they’re wearing, are they wearing loose clothing that’s easier to grab a hold of, if they have long hair that’s something else, earrings, things like that.

Even with guns — Jed Ayres was asking me, he says, do you always have to know this and this and this and you know what always bothers me in a book sometimes was I didn’t know what angle they were coming from or how they got to where they were at and I didn’t know if the gun just went off. And, I just want to know those things because you know it when you watch a movie. You see everything. It’s visual. It’s there. You’ve got to find words that move the reader. You gotta build that sentence. There’s a rhythm. That’s how I look at things when I write. I look at rhythm.

TH: How do you gauge the right level of detail of violence to show and the effects of it?

FB: A lot of things come from boxing and martial arts because we’d always do what we call street fighting scenarios, we’d break things down. You’d go step-by-step. We always knew, or I know, when you get in a fight, it doesn’t always go step-by-step. It’s gonna last five or ten seconds. You do those steps and you go back over them and it might be a little bit different. I guess I try to look at it that even if something’s over the top, there’s only so much that in reality a person could take. [Laughs.] Even though I do put people through a lot. [Laughs.]

TH: Many of your stories appeared on-line, and you just had a story appear in the September issue of Playboy, where do you prefer to have your best work published on-line or in print?

FB: I don’t know. Playboy is my first national publication. They have a readership of 1.5 million I don’t know if everybody actually, [Laughs.] reads the magazine. Some of the best authors have been published there if you look back through their issues. But, probably both, I think you kinda have to be that way now. I enjoyed working with the editor of Playboy she was great. It was cool because she dug everything. She dug the stories of course or she wouldn’t have taken them on, but she was very, very excited about the entire process. She was easy to work with. When I worked with Neil Smith he was great to work with.

Of course the one thing is, when you work with an editor — after you’ve worked with them a couple of times, like I worked on one or two stories with Neil and the next two stories really didn’t have much of any editing because I kinda knew what he expected in a sense. What I learned from him as far as writing, I kinda understood where I was overwriting things. I guess I’ll gain that knowledge too whenever I go back through with the novel for next year with my editors. Of course, that’ll be a completely different ball game probably.

I worked with Allison Glasgow — Lady D, Todd Robinson’s wife. She sent me an email, like at twelve or one o’clock in the morning, I was on night shift, and I’d sent “Old Testament Wisdom” to them. I had this crazy email, like, “Frank, I just read your story for the fourth or fifth time and it’s fucking awesome!” I was like, “This editor just said fuck, I can’t believe this.”[Laughs.] She really dug it and said, “I think this just needs a really good edit and I can’t believe you haven’t published more work, that you’re a struggling writer”, that kind of thing. “Would you agree to do some edits?” And, I wrote her back, “Yeah, I’d be crazy not to.” So she sent me her version of the story with some notes and things. Of course, I feel sorry for her because I was probably e-mailing her twenty times a week [Laughs.] as I worked through it, because I was excited. I didn’t know what to expect or anything. It was like I was finally getting attention after all these years of no attention or you know, the form rejection letters

I’m trying to think if there’s any other editors I really worked with on-line… a little bit with Beat to a Pulp. The stories I sent them, after I’d worked with Neil and I understood more about editing on how to tighten a story, I was kind of in this groove and I sent them two stories back-to-back. They really didn’t have any edits, but they wanted to talk to me on the phone and ended up calling me and I talked to Elaine Ash, who was editing for them at the time. She really dug everything and there were just a couple of word choices. Then after I explained why I used them, she read back through it and though about it from my perspective, and basically, emailed me back and said, “Hey, we’re just going to stick with it like it is. I understand more what you mean now.”

I got pretty lucky I guess with those places. I don’t really have a preference I like both. A lot of people don’t read print any more or as much. People don’t go out and buy magazines like they use to. I like print better than I do reading things on-line. Really anything I get on-line I just print it off my computer and read it like a hard copy. I can only sit in desk so long before it really starts messing with your eyes. Even when I’m writing, you can only sit for so long before it starts messing with you after awhile.

TH: So having worked on a few novels and ending up discarding them, how discouraging is it to put all that time into something that you ended up seeing as not publishable?

FB: To me it’s not discouraging cause I think you have to put that time in to get to that next step, to grow as a writer. The rough draft, you have a lot more room to breath than in a short story, but you also have to keep it compact and tight all the way to the end. The more you do that, the more you learn from that. Then you also learn more about not using all the same words over and over. It’s just a process I think you have to do that. The first novel I wrote was turned into a novella. It’s completely different from the way I write now. There’s a similar style, but it’s written in the first and second person and at the time I just wanted to see if I could write a book or a novel. I did a bunch of research, cause I though at the time that’s what writer’s do, they go out and they research everything. When I wrote that I was probably in my late twenties, early thirties. …It’s around that time period when I wrote it, “Acting Out”, and I hadn’t actually gained my voice as a writer. I had no set style, I guess you could say, I had a lot of clipped sentence and it was fast paced and it’s actually more of a white collar story.

Of course, it just sat for years and years and years and after Beat to Pulp had published two of my stories they were putting together an anthology and Elaine Ash had gotten a hold of me and wanted to know if I had anything lying around. It was before the anthology, they’d been talking about doing it and she was doing some type of thing on-line to help other writers out and wanted to know what I thought. I said, “You should do that because people struggle for years and years and they don’t have any editorial advice, and that’s what she was going to do, take a number of people that wanted to send in some stories they were working on and having problems with and she wanted something to compare it to. She was like, “Do you have anything you haven’t published?” And, I was kinda like, “I have this manuscript”, and I sent it to her and she’s like, “Hey this just needs an edit, there’s nothing wrong with this.” She’s like, “How long have you had this?” I’m like, “Well, [Laughs.] five or six years it’s probably been sitting in a drawer.” She’s like, “Oh, my God, did you send it out to anybody?” [Laughs.] I was like, “Yeah, I sent to all kinds of people. Nobody wanted it, it was too dark.” She said, “No, it just needs to be edited.” And, then that’s when she said they were going to do an anthology and she said, “I want it. Would you care if we take it?” I’m like, “You can have it. Do whatever you want with it. It’s been sitting long enough I’m not attached to it anymore I’ve moved on.” To me it’s not frustrating. Now, what’s more frustrating than anything is having enough time to write. [Laughs.]

TH: I would imagine. You’re still working?

FB: Yeah, I still work in the warehouse. One of things I’ve actually learned from all of this is I always wondered how people got into glossy magazines like Playboy or Esquire or something like that is you have a good editor, a good published and they work together and have connections and they reach out to people. That’s kind of how every thing’s happened. Your agent’s the same way, you have a good agent she has good connections with the publishing houses with certain editors and it just goes from there, like a big ring. I didn’t know how anything worked, to be honest. I have a better idea now than I did then because, my editor will be like “Hey, if I can do this for you, are you interested?” And, I’m kind of like, “Well, yeah” for years and years I wanted to get published here or there and I couldn’t. I definitely wouldn’t pass it up now.

TH: One last question, what are you working on now?

FB: I’m actually eleven or twelve thousand words into a new project that I’ve had in my mind since probably November of last year, but I was busy with edits. This year whenever I tried to get started on it something would come up. The news with Playboy, I was like, cool, but I didn’t know what to expect. Jed Ayres was trying to put together an anthology and wanted a short story. I had some stuff I’d been working on so I sent that to him. That took some time away from what I was working on, by the time I got back to it, then I had edits coming from Playboy. [Laughs.] My editor had a research/essay piece he wanted me to work on for another magazine and he had my foot in the door there, so I had to go out and do some research with my cop buddy. That’s kind of hard to do because I’m trying to save vacation, cause I don’t know what I’m going to have to do as far as travel with the book, [Laughs.] that kind of thing.

Actually, what I’m hoping to do, after I finish what I’m working on now, I’d like to do a proposal for a second book that I’d like to write. I’ve actually shot it past Stacia, my agent, and she’s like, “You gotta write that now!” I stumbled on to some really good crime stuff, some down home stories that my cop buddy was involved with this case and he started giving me the elements of it. I was suppose to be out doing research with him on this essay I was working on at the time, and I said, “I don’t think we’re getting any research done today. You gotta tell me this entire story.” It was intriguing. So, he’s telling me about this case he worked, he took me to the places where all these things were happening and I’m jotting everything down. I’m basically filling up my journal with stuff. I told [Stacia] all that, and she’s like, “You gotta write it now!” I was like, “I can’t write it now, I’m in the middle of a different novel. I can’t just switch back and forth. I’m going to finish this one and I said “I think I’ve got an opening chapter for this. If we can do a proposal, we’ll do that because I’ve got all the facts that would back up what I’m going to write about and case files.” She was like, “Cool.” I’ve definitely got other things to work on, but I don’t know when it’ll be. [Laughs.]