The gritty, vivid stories in Crimes in Southern Indiana (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) have the ring of authenticity. Author and 37-year-old Corydon, Ind., resident Frank Bill, represented by Stacia Decker at Donald Maass Literary Agency, says, "Everything I write about comes from a real place. ‘The Penance of Scoot' is based on my grandfather's brain cancer and how he and my grandmother met. ‘The Accident' was based on my mental state after enduring an explosion I was involved in at my job. I always flip the real event or idea to make it more outrageous than it really is or was. And I've got a good friend in law enforcement who shares a lot of stories. I ask a lot of questions about how small towns, the crimes, and the people within them have changed over the years."
Bill wrote most of the stories in his debut collection on his nights off from factory work, plugging away from 11 p.m. until morning. The work of Larry Brown and William Gay inspired him to write about the people he knew. And he claims to have learned narrative structure from watching Clint Eastwood movies with his father and listening to tales from his grandfather, "an avid storyteller and a well-respected coon hunter."
The trade paper collection will have a 40,000-copy first printing. Executive editor Sean McDonald says Bill is "very aware of never, ever being boring, so the stories tend to be action-packed and often violent. He feels fearless as a writer, and that gives his storytelling a unique edge and energy, and an unfailingly honest, sometimes raw voice."