MysteryPeople Interview: Frank Bill

Donnybrook by Frank Bill

With just two books, including our Pick Of The Month Donnybrook, Frank Bill has become one of our favorite new authors. Frank seems to like us too, since he was willing to talk to us about fighting, writing, and movies.

MysteryPeople: Is it true you got the idea for Donnybrook by talking to a fellow martial arts student?

Frank Bill: Part of the idea came from a student I ran around with and studied with, yes. This was back in the mid-90’s. He worked for a printing company and the rumor around his work was that men were hosting these underground fights at unknown locations, but none of us ever went, that is if they even existed. But that rumor stuck in my head.
MP: The story has a loose and rollicking style, but it comes to a logical conclusion. How much of it had you planned out before you started writing?

FB: I never outline, so I never really plan anything. For me everything starts with a moving description. Followed by ideas and scenes I scribble down in my journal. Then type them out to hardcopy. Print them. Line edit and build everything from there by re-writing and revising obsessively.
MP: One thing that’s remarkable about the book is how, you have several characters and plot lines, but there’s an incredible momentum to the narrative. Do that many characters make it a challenge or do they actually help you keep it moving?

FB: For me, the multiple plotlines/characters keep things moving. I have a hard time with attention, so my mind tends to bounce and wonder back and forth, hence my multiple story lines and the movement within them.
MP: Donnybrook has some of the best fight scenes I’ve read. What do you try to keep in mind when writing these kinds of moments?

FB: I break everything down the same as we did with my teachers when I studied and trained in martial arts. Its like choreographing the fight. Looking at the details of a situation and how one acts and reacts. Footing. Body mechanics. In some cases I actually stand up and go over it in mind, and in front of a mirror. Reflecting on how the body moves.

Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

MP: You wrote a great novel and one of the best short story collections in recent memory. Do you have a preference of either form?

FB: Thank you. I dig each of them, but I do like the novel, as there’s a bit more room to build the tension and offer backstory and characterization.
MP: There’s a visceral feel from your books you generally associate with film. Are there filmmakers who inspire you as much as authors?
FB: Tarantino, Rob Zombie, PT Anderson, Xavier Gen, Nicolas Winding Refn, Alejandro Gonzalez, Takashi Miike, David Ayer, Neil Labute, just to name a few.

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