Above All Men article in The Post

Eric was interviewed about his upcoming novel, Above All Men, for an article that appeared in The Post: The Independent Voice on Campus and in Athens [Ohio]. The feature, written by William Ashton, was published on October 28, 2013, and can be found in its entirety here.
Every writer wishes to see his or her work get published and make it to bookshelves throughout the country, and now one local author is living that dream.

In March, 2014, Athens writer Eric Shonkwiler will have his debut novel, Above All Men, published by MG Press. The book tells the fictional story of David Parrish, a war veteran, fighting to keep his farm and family together in a near-future America leached of oil.

“Like most writers, I hope that readers will be opened up by my book, that they’ll look at things in a new way, even if just for a little while,” Shonkwiler said. “I write about some overtly political topics: PTSD, oil, and the like, but I try to leave the issues unsettled. Raising the question is more important than getting an answer in fiction.”

Robert James Russell and Jeff Pfaller, founders of MG Press, were both impressed by Shonkwiler’s distinct voice and his sense of setting.

“For me, the iconic setting was what hooked me in, right from the beginning,” Pfaller said. “As we read more of the novel and then finished the manuscript, it became obvious that Eric had honed the voice we loved down to a razor’s edge. When it boils down to it, if we hadn’t published the book, I would have regretted it.”

“It became obvious that Eric had honed the voice we loved down to a razor’s edge.”

Shonkwiler’s novel will allow readers to explore a distinct vision of the future through noting the desolation of cities such as Flint and Detroit and imagine what it looks like when that contraction spreads throughout the region.

“Ultimately, the story in Above All Men is about a man struggling to keep his family together, but that small story is merely a metaphor for the broader desolation that’s choking the land,” Pfaller said in an email.

Shonkwiler considers his biggest influence to be his uncle, who passed away a few months before he began work on the novel. Shonkwiler wanted to create a character who, like his uncle, was troubled by the things he’d seen and done and to show the effects those traumas can have on a family.

“The state of the world in this book is born from my frustrations with our world — the failures of government, a refusal to adapt to changes in climate and resources — I wanted to see where we’d wind up if we continued on this path, and that led me to the various disasters the characters face in this story,” Shonkwiler said.

Above All Men will be available for purchase at $15 in print and $4.99 as an e-book. Amazon, Kindle Books, Nook Books, iBooks, Ingram, and Lulu will distribute the book.”