March 1, 2017
University of Montana Western English professor Francis Davis’s short story collection <i>West of Love</i> has been accepted for publication by Brighthorse Books.
“Thematically the stories deal with love, identity, sexuality, and they are set in Philadelphia and in cities throughout the west — Missoula, San Francisco, Seattle,” Davis said.
Davis said Philadelphia colors his writing “My hometown influences my writing in the same way it influences my person: Philly people abhor pretension, don’t take themselves too seriously, and value blunt honesty. They also know their way around a sandwich. Hopefully, my writing exhibits these qualities, especially the sandwich part,” he said.
Although born in Pennsylvania, Davis considers Montana his second home. “I’ve been at Montana Western since 2012. I first came to Montana in 1994 to study with Bill Kittredge, Debra Magpie Earling and Dee McNamer as part of the University of Montana MFA program. It’s a great program and I fell for Montana hard.”
Davis is an accomplished writer who started publishing fiction 23 years ago. He has realized significant success and his latest compilation of short stories adds to an impressive body of work.
In 1994, he won a city-wide writing contest in Philadelphia. “I gave a couple of readings and they published a chapbook of a story I wrote. Someone even asked for my autograph,” he said.
His first publication is a fond memory for Davis, “I remember quite vividly getting the letter that explained that I’d won that contest. I remember reading and re-reading it on the subway on my way to a catering gig at the Franklin Institute. It validated that I had something to offer as a writer and I clung to that validation.”
Describing the process of writing “West of Love,” Davis said, “I danced along the line separating memoir and fiction, exploring a time when it felt like my life was changing in big ways every few months or so. I also tried to capture a time, the early 90s, before the internet, before cell phones, before the music industry was swallowed whole by corporations.”
When asked about who he most wanted to read his new book, surprisingly Davis answered,”(Producer/actor)Lena Dunham. There’s an elaborate plot/fantasy attached to that choice that ends with me being able to pay for the college tuitions of my children. If she’s not available, maybe James Franco for the same reason.”
“West of Love” is scheduled to be released in 2018. In the meantime Davis said he will keep busy teaching classes and finding a publisher for his newly finished novel, “Family Anarchy.”