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Frank Turner Hollon Interview

by John Sledge

Frank Turner Hollon, 36, author of the newly published novella The Pains of April, is an attorney by day and a writer by night, talented in both endeavors but completely unpretentious. He is a partner in the Robertsdale firm Holies, Dasinger & Hollon, "a good ol’ country firm" he called it during a recent interview. His legal resume includes law school at Tulane and a four-year stint with Baldwin County District Attorney David Whetstone. He said he enjoys helping everyday folks with legal issues and his straightforward manner no doubt reassures his clients. In the evenings, however, Hollon values solitude, the better to wrestle words into stories on a yellow legal pad.

Hollon has been writing since he was a teenager in Slidell, Louisiana. He crafted "mostly poetry and short stories," but never published any of it. "The Pains of April" was written during the 1980s while he was still in law school. He showed the manuscript to his family and a few friends, and then stuffed it into a box. "I kept it under the bed for ten years," he said. It was only after overhearing Fairhope bookseller and publisher Sonny Brewer speak to a customer about book-making that Hollon decided to go for publication. He admitted that he was nervous about asking Brewer to evaluate his manuscript, since a friend told him not to give it to Brewer unless he could handle rejection. As it happened, however, Brewer was captivated, as nearly everyone else has been who has read "The Pains of April."

The book is narrated by an 86 year old denizen of a nursing home somewhere along the Gulf Coast. Hollon said that he chose to write about a man near the end of life because he "wanted clarity." At the time he wrote the book he was going through some personal tribulation, and actually wished he were much older, looking back on his troubles. He was also deeply moved by visits with his 90 year old grandfather, who "seemed so afraid" and often burst into tears when talking about his own past. Hollon wondered how his life and personal problems would be assessed from such "a further perspective," and so he put pen to paper in something of a thought experiment.

For a young man to convincingly and humanely portray a character over half a century his senior requires keen psychological insight and deft literary ability. Frank Turner Hollon scores high in both categories. Early readers and reviewers of "The Pains of April" have been impressed with Hollon’s achievement and have praised his compelling voice and stylistic craft. Fairhope writer Judith Richards called his writing "fluent in the elements of literature," and native Mobilian and literary wunderkind Michael Knight lauded his "abundant honesty and humor." Robert Bell, author of "The Butterfly Tree," wrote the introduction to the book, and stated, "So few writers understand style anymore, but Mr. Hollon does."

Hollon is presently at work on a much longer novel, something "more commercial" and "very different" from "The Pains of April," also to be published by Over the Transom Books. When he is not lawyering or writing, Hollon plays Whiffle Ball, runs (he has completed the New York marathon twice) and reads literary classics. He has just bought "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway and said that he needs to reread, for the eighth time, his favorite novel, "The Fountainhead," by Ayn Rand. "I love the characters," he declared. Frank Turner Hollon bears watching. He is a promising new light in the local literary firmament, and is good enough to go far indeed.