What will Kentucky Book Festival visitors find on your table?
I’ll be at the festival with my 2023 novel EVERYBODY KNOWS (JackLeg Press), which Margaret Renkl (GRACELAND, AT LAST) calls “a laugh-out-loud post-apocalyptic satire—nothing less than a rowdy, music-besotted, whiskey-drenched tale of political shenanigans and Biblical flooding.” EVERYBODY KNOWS is also an ode to Southern storytelling, fueled by the blues and country music, and more than a little bourbon from the author’s native Kentucky. As George Singleton (YOU WANT MORE: SELECTED STORIES) says, “Pluck some characters out of Thomas Pynchon, Robert Penn Warren, Sonny Boy Williamson II, the Bible, and Wes Anderson movies. Place them in torrential rains and a flood. Hand them over to a genius storyteller. Mix well.”
My 2013 novel LONG GONE DADDIES (John F. Blair) is the story of three generations of musicians and the guitar they hand down like a curse. Richard Bausch (PLAYHOUSE: A NOVEL) called it “a book of wild music and generous imagining.” It won a gold medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards for best regional fiction.
Whom do you invite to stop by? Who will benefit from reading your book?
I would especially invite lovers of Southern literary fiction to stop by. My influences include Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Barry Hannah, Charles Portis, Lewis Nordan—and a hometown hero of mine, the late, great Ed McClanahan. I’m from Maysville, where Ed lived in his high school years.
I’d also invite fans of satire and current events, as EVERYBODY KNOWS addresses such topical concerns as climate change, crime and punishment, and the vast political divide.
Could you please tell us something curious about you and/or your book?
When I was trying to interest literary agents and publishers in EVERYBODY KNOWS, I began my query letter by saying: “What would Kurt Vonnegut write about these times and those ahead for America, if he were alive today—and if he were Southern?”
Is this your first time participating in Kentucky Book Festival? If yes – what are you looking forward to the most? If you’ve participated before – what was your favorite experience at the Festival?
I participated in the 2013 Kentucky Book Fair, as it was known then, with my first novel, LONG GONE DADDIES. My favorite moment was when someone from my hometown—Maysville, Kentucky—stopped by to chat and buy a copy of the book for his sister, a school mate of mine at St. Patrick’s from some 35 years before. Their mother was my favorite teacher, instilling in me a love of literature and helping set me on the path to becoming a writer.