I’m very proud to open Hills of Fire: Bare-Knuckle Yarns of Appalachia with my story “Rockridge Ringer,” where Jay Desmarteaux finds his old cellmate fighting for a crooked sheriff in a mountain town… and busts things up the only way he knows how, with his two quick fists. You won’t want to miss this one.
I was a big fan of the Dukes of Hazzard as a kid, and since then “Justified” and the Appalachian tales of Manly Wade Wellman and many others have intrigued me. I visited West Virginia a few years ago on a road trip- we stopped at Hillbilly Hotdogs and the Mothman Museum, and found folks as friendly as you could want- and I felt a kinship with the state, because like New Jersey, it is sometimes the recipient of jokes from those who’ve never stepped foot there. It’s a beautiful state and I’m proud to be in a collection by Woodland Press, a regional publisher that showcases writers from it.
Now I don’t know if editor Frank Larnerd showed the cover artist my story, but it sure looks like he read it. And while my image of Jay Desmarteaux was a Fred Willard in “Remo Williams” with a nod to author James Lee Burke, I am hard pressed not to see him as the brawler on this cover. And that don’t bother me one bit. I hope you’ll pick this book up, it has stories by Steve Rasnic Tem and a fantastic bootlegger adventure by Amber Keller as well.