It's been a good couple of months for author and WKU English Professor David Bell.
He recently won the Le Prix Polar International de Cognac, a prestigious French literary award given to the best crime novel published by a non-French author, for his 2011 book Cemetery Girl. His most recent book, Never Come Back, was published in October.
Never Come Back tells the story of Elizabeth Hampton, who--in the book's opening pages--arrives at her mother's home to find police detectives and crime scene investigators.
David Bell spoke to WKU Public Radio about the origins of his new work, and how Bowling Green and his parents have influenced his writing.
Where did you come up with the idea for your new book?
"The idea for Never Come Back came from a couple of places. The first idea was that when we're kids, we're pretty self-centered. We tend to think that our parents' lives began the day we were born. As we get older, I think we figure out that our parents had lives before us. So that was really the starting point."
"This is the story of a woman who, in the very beginning of the book, has her mother die. Almost immediately, as she starts to try to find out what happened to her mother, she starts to understand that her mother had this entire life that she didn't know about."
"And there are a lot of secrets in her mother's past, a lot of difficult things in her mother's past that she didn't understand. So it's really about figuring out who her mother was."
Does the fact you live and work in Bowling Green influence your writing in any way?
"I think it definitely does. Cemetery Girl was set in a place that wasn't called Bowling Green, but it clearly was Bowling Green, including Keriakes Park and Fairview Cemetery. But I'm also writing about these mid-sized towns...it usually seems that there's a university in the town. Elizabeth Hampton (main character in Never Come Back) is a graduate student. I'm just drawing on my own experiences in that way. In Cemetery Girl, the main character was an English Professor. In The Hiding Place, one of the main characters worked at a university."
"I think Bowling Green is the kind of town that people look at as a great place to live. It's a very beautiful town. But there are also always dark secrets in towns like this, and maybe people who live in a town like this don't expect there to be as many dark secrets or weird stories as there are. So it's kind of nice to peel that layer off the top of a town like this and see what's underneath it."
Never Come Back is dedicated to your Mom. Did she have an influence on your writing?
"My parents both influenced my writing because I grew up with them reading all the time. I grew up in a house full of readers. They were always reading newspapers and magazines, and they were always interested in current events and history."
"My Mom never went to college. My Dad did, but they weren't hugely educated in that sense. But they just knew a lot about the world. My Mom is very street-smart in many ways. So that was the big influence from them."
"I had to tell my Mom that I was dedicating this book to her, and that the mother in the book dies on the first page. I figure that anybody who is a Freudian or a psychologist would have a field day with that."
"But I told my Mom all about that, and she was fine with having this book dedicated to her."