BELOIT—Beloit author Bill Mathis’s newest book “Revenge is Necessary” is full of contrasting perspectives, farms and lots of secrets. His first psychological thriller is a fast-paced ride through the countryside of Minnesota and all the simmering resentments in the fictional Skogman family.
“Revenge is Necessary,” published by Rogue Phoenix Press, will officially release Dec. 1 with a virtual launch party on Dec. 10. The book is available in paperback from Amazon, with an e-book release coming later in December.
A free advance e-book will be made available to book bloggers and reviewers who meet certain criteria; people can email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.
Mathis, who is retired, has been quite a prolific writer for the past couple of years, writing “Revenge is Necessary,” “Rooming House Gallery,” “Rooming House Diaries” and “Face Your Fears.” The Rooming House books were a greatly expanded spinoff of “Face Your Fears.”
His latest book is a more fast-paced work. It starts off with 18-year-old Junior Skogan being chased down a long farm driveway in his underwear by his gun-wielding father Shaw Skogman who just found out a secret about his mother.
“It really takes off,” Mathis said.
The mother tries to take the gun and the dad turns the gun on his wife, Connie Skogman. She fights for control and her husband gets his left leg destroyed. The book continues to showcase the different perspectives of various friends, neighbors and the undertaker to unveil the mother’s secret as well as the entire secret life of his father, while leaving some bodies in his wake.
“It’s a fast unlayering of the secrets each of them had,” Mathis said. “Then you find out how he acquired farms and that his education degree was not in agricultural management, but in something else which allows him to kill other people.”
Eventually dad gets to tell his side of the story, his upbringing and abuse leading to his need for revenge.
Junior’s boyfriend Beany is not a main character, but a strong supporting character. Mathis said he brings insight and sensitivity from lived experience into his depictions of multiple gay characters who each play their individual roles in unraveling the Skogman family’s long-concealed secrets.
Mathis said his most recent book was 18 months in the making. It started when he was on a cruise and woke up one morning with a vision of the opening scene.
“I thought it might be a short story. Once I got into it, it just unfolded,” Mathis said.
The undertaker, who is the best friend of the mother Connie, is also gay. There is a little side plot of him meeting a longtime bachelor sheriff who comes out, Mathis said.
Writing a thriller is a bit of a new path for Mathis, but country living is quite familiar.
“I grew up in a tiny village surrounded by farms. My parents farmed before going into the ministry. I’ve bucked hay bales, driven a tractor and mucked out stalls. I knew farming wasn’t for me, but I have utmost respect for farmers and what they do for our nation,” Mathis said.
Mathis’s previously published works navigating such themes as diversity and the American melting pot, family, LGBTQ+ experiences and disability, often through the lens of multiple characters with unique and distinct narratives.
When asked why family is a focus of his work across genres, Mathis said, “I write about families because I know the joy, love and support that comes from being in a family. I also know the pain of being separated from family, of realizing my failures as a father and husband, of recognizing families that appear perfect usually aren’t.”