Five Things

My guest this week is an author based in Corydon, Indiana, not far from Louisville. Frank Bill has just released his third book, a novel titled “The Savage.” It’s a post-apocalyptic tale of survival, set in and around Corydon after the economy has totally collapsed, and civil society along with it. In a word: it’s intense.

“The Savage” is a follow-up to his first novel, “Donnybrook,” which is the story of a three-day bare-knuckle fighting tournament. The movie version of “Donnybrook,” starring Jamie Bell, just finished filming a few months ago.

Bill’s stories are action-packed, sometimes extremely violent, yet he’s a pretty chill guy. Amidst his writing, he still works a full-time job at a paint additives factory in Louisville. I went to his home in Corydon for this interview, where we sat at the kitchen table and talked… and I got to meet his dog.

On a newspaper clipping about his father, a Marine who served in Vietnam:
“He was just kind of my hero. One of the things that’s influenced my writing is military people, war veterans, that kind of thing. The biggest part of my childhood was spent going with him after helping my grandfather cut wood, he always wanted to go to the VFW or the American Legion Hall. He was always a huge inspiration to me, I didn’t realize until I got older.”

On what the world has lost because of Wal-Mart:
“One of the worst things that ever happened to the world was Wal-Mart, because it knocked out all the mom & pop places, and it kind of gets rid of community and brings in the big dog, you know, and lets people consume, consume, consume.

“I wrote a short story called “The Disgruntled Americans,” and it’s a story about these brothers, a couple of them are military guys, and the main oldest brother is a cop, and they decide to rip Wal-Mart off on Black Friday, the biggest day to get a payday. Because they’re all fed up with their jobs and stuff, but this isn’t just about robbing. At the end of the story you get what it’s really about, and it gets into what Wal-Mart has taken away.”

On his grandfather and his many hunting dogs:
“My aunt always said you didn’t know how poor you were until you look back at your childhood and you realize all your pets weren’t cats and dogs — she had a pet raccoon and a pet squirrel. [My grandfather] couldn’t go out and buy anything but he would catch wild animals for her to have as pets.”

Tara Anderson is the host and producer of Five Things, a podcast about the objects that tell our stories.