For Curtis Trimble, the story which takes place in his recently published novel, Touch’s Usual, has been lurking in the back of his mind for well over 30 years.
And now, it’s out in the world as well.
In Touch’s Usual, readers follow Tanner “Touch” Thomas, the town sheriff, who starts investigating a cold case his father had tried to solve.
Along the way though, Tanner discovers much more than he thought he would, including a long-running Dixie Mafia-linked drug ring, putting his life in danger.
“It’s a product of kind of being a knucklehead little kid, and listening to the adults talk about current events and stories,” Trimble said about the book, his first published novel. “And one of them in particular just kind of stuck with me.”
He recalls that as a kid, he was at a friend’s grandparents house when he overheard the adults talking about how someone they knew had been shot while mowing their grass. The grown ups said there were no clues, no motive, no idea of who had done it, or why.
Trimble knew it was only a kernel of an idea, so when he finally sat down to write this long-germinating story at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he wanted to explore the premise, to make it more compelling, interesting, and add a little bit more mystery.
“It wrote itself really quickly,” he said. “It was less than two months, from kind of initially sitting down at the computer and tapping it out until I was done with the first draft.”
The story itself takes place in a small town of less than 12,000 people, one Trimble described as a fictional version of the West Kentucky town he grew up in and where he went to high school.
Much like the town being based on is somewhere Trimble knows, there are elements in the character that is based off people he’s met along the way, as well, ranging from those he has met for only a moment, to the young men he is a volunteer wrestling coach for at Seaholm High School. He and his family have lived in Birmingham for nearly a decade.
“You can’t write what you don’t know,” Trimble said. “Each of these characters are an amalgam of various components of people that I've known both as an adolescent, young adult, and then also as an adult, and some of them are components of youngsters that I've worked with.”
Trimble – whose day job is overseeing an investment management subsidiary for a private equity firm – is a big fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels and how character-centric they are. Touch’s Usual, specifically his main character, was written in a similar fashion.
For those who find themselves as drawn to the characters just as Trimble was – don’t worry, he has written a second book which is currently in its first round of edits.
While the first story of Tanner was told in a published novel, Trimble said he’s exploring different mediums for the second, with the possibility of it becoming an e-reader instead of something published in print.
No matter which form it might take, a second book is definitely on its way.
“My chief editor, also known as my wife, is editing the second book now,” Trimble said.
Story: Dana Casadei
Photo: Laurie Tennent