'Knockemstiff' is a collection of short stories set in the holler of the same name in southern Ohio where I grew up. I tried to link the stories together through the place and some recurring characters.
Don't get me wrong: I think that everyone should put forth an effort to do better, but let's face it, some of us are just plain luckier than others.
When I turned fifty, I decided to quit the mill and go to graduate school.
Four hundred or so people lived in Knockemstiff in 1957, nearly all of them connected by blood through one godforsaken calamity or another, be it lust or necessity or just plain ignorance.
When I was growing up, I just wanted to be somewhere else. I didn't like living in Knockemstiff, and I figured when I got older, I'd move off to some big city.
I spent thirty-two years in a paper mill in southern Ohio, and before that, I worked in a meatpacking plant and a shoe factory.
I listen to a lot of different stuff, from Mozart to Johnny Dowd to Monster Magnet. I don't listen to music while I'm writing a draft, but I do listen to it when I'm revising.
I was 35 when I started taking classes at Ohio University. After I got my degree, I kept working at the mill. When I was 45, I decided I was going to try to learn how to write short stories.
I would like to write a book that wasn't so violent and weird, but I just don't think I can do that with my talent. I don't think it would come off.
I'd always been a big reader, and I loved books, and I always thought writing would be a great way to get by in the world.
I'm not really a good reader. What I mean is, I think I'm not one of those people who can read a story and analyze it just like that.
I sort of like writing about weird characters, I guess.
I was always a big reader, even when everything was bad and miserable.
I'm not sure about 'absolute' happiness, but I am happiest when I go to bed at night knowing that I tried to do my best that day.
I'm probably the least cerebral guy you're ever going to meet as a writer.
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