Friday, April 24, 2015

Showcase: Shotgun Lovesongs and Beneath the Bonfire by Nickolas Butler

Well, here is WI we are in the middle of my favorite week ever, well next to Christmas that is...
is now underway!  I have had so much fun so far and saw some amazing writers that I have always wanted to see and some that are new to me. And I still have 3 more days to go!!!  
What an amazing week it has been.  
Making memories, building up my signed book collection and being inspired by the writers that create stories that change my life.

  Yesterday, I was honored to listen to Nickolas Butler read from his novel 
and what a brilliant book...such honestly, imagery and characters worth getting to know.  Butler was kind enough to be interviewed by me and I am so thankful that he took time to answer of few of my questions.  

Thanks so much Nickolas!!!


Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the same Wisconsin town — Little Wing — and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One of them never left, still farming the family's land that's been tilled for generations. Others did leave, went farther afield to make good, with varying degrees of success; as a rock star, commodities trader, rodeo stud. And seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them—both then and now—fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of love songs and rivalries.

Now all four are home, in hopes of finding what could be real purchase in the world. The result is a shared memory only half-recreated, riddled with culture clashes between people who desperately wish to see themselves as the unified tribe they remember, but are confronted with how things have, in fact, changed.

There is conflict here between longtime buddies, between husbands and wives — told with writing that is, frankly, gut-wrenching, and even heartbreaking. But there is also hope, healing, and at times, even heroism. It is strong, American stuff, not at all afraid of showing that we can be good, too — not just fallible and compromising. Shotgun Lovesongs is a remarkable and uncompromising saga that explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again — and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires.


Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, has become an international bestseller and won numerous accolades, including France's Prix Page/America, previously won by Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding. Now, in Beneath the Bonfire, he demonstrates his talent for portraying "a place and its people with such love that you'll find yourself falling for them, too" (Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea).

Young couples gather to participate in an annual "chainsaw party," cutting down trees for firewood in anticipation of the winter. A group of men spend a weekend hunting for mushrooms in the wilderness where they grew up and where some still find themselves trapped. An aging environmentalist takes out his frustration and anger on a singular, unsuspecting target. One woman helps another get revenge against a man whose crime extends far beyond him to an entire community. Together, the ten stories in this dazzling, surprising collection evoke a landscape that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has traveled the back roads and blue highways of America, and they completely capture the memorable characters who call it home.

Nickolas Butler

Nickolas Butler is the author of the novel "Shotgun Lovesongs" and a forthcoming collection of short stories entitled, "Beneath the Bonfire".

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he was educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. His work has appeared in: Ploughshares, The Christian Science Monitor, The Kenyon Review Online, Narrative, The Progressive, and many other publications.

Along the way he has worked as: a meatpacker, a Burger King maintenance man, a liquor store clerk, a coffee roaster, an office manager, an author escort, an inn-keeper (twice), and several other odd vocations.

He presently lives on 16 acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married with two children.

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A. On a pragmatic level, writing is how I make my living.  If I'm not writing, I'm not making money; I don't have another job.  On a more romantic level, I'm inspired by nature, by art of all kinds, by friends, by things overheard in everyday life...  I think, as a writer, you have to be paying attention to everything and everyone.  There are stories everywhere, inside everyone.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an writer?

A. I'm living my dream.  Short of holding a clipboard for Aaron Rodgers, I wouldn't want to do anything else.  Being a writer is an amazing blessing.  When I'm writing, I'm engaging my imagination, my memory, my senses, my own philosophy.  And I get to travel the world meeting readers, librarians, professors, teachers, and booksellers.  What could be better?

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an writer?

A. Writing.  When I'm feeling very inspired, writing comes easily, everything flows.  But it isn't always that easy, and that's when writing becomes tough.  You're all alone, staring at a wall, or a computer screen, waiting for a mysterious muse to whisper into your ear - which is of course a joke.  There is no muse.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?

A. I was a coffee-roaster for three years, and I very much enjoyed that.  I think brewing beer would also be fun.  I don't know.  I also think being a librarian would be rewarding - surrounded by books and movies and music.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  I don't know...  It's a good question.  I'm 35 years old, and I feel like my life is just beginning.  Two small kids, a great marriage, doing exactly what I want to be doing.  Ask me again in five years.

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?

A. A Moveable Feast or The Sun Also Rises or The Nick Adams Stories...  all by Hemingway.

Q.  What do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now?

A. 100 years from now, my grandchildren will be in the middle of their lives.  I hope that they remember me as a kind old man who was still curious about the world, who loved cigars, beer and wine, and the natural world, and everything that makes us human.  I'd love to have a pet crow.  I'd love to learn how to care for horses.  I'd like to become a better poet.  I just want to people to remember me for being kind, generous, maybe brave.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.

A.  I met a woman in a bookstore who thought I was Nicholas Sparks.  When she finally accepted that I was NOT Nicholas Sparks, she seemed very disappointed that she had purchased my book. 

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A. Yes.  Working on a new novel about three generations of fathers and sons and mothers and sons visiting the same northern Wisconsin Boy Scout camp.  I think its about love, fatherhood, marriage, divorce, and becoming a man.

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