Frankie Rollins

Writer of myths, fairy tales, and other true stories.

ABOUT

Frankie Rollins was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. She has lived in a variety of places including Maryland, Wyoming, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and New Jersey, until settling in Tucson, Arizona in 2009, where she lives in a pink house and teaches writing.

Frankie’s latest book is a flash fiction novella titled, The Grief Manuscript, published with Finishing Line Press in May 2020. Of which poet, Annie Guthrie, writes, “In the author’s expert hands, heartache can be catalogued into slides of ‘sore memories’ and ‘cut-out wounds.’ The Grief Manuscript chronicles a relationship’s built up symptoming, as the speaker sorts through attic boxes, photo albums, and remembered conversations.”

Frankie has also published another novella, “Doctor Porchiat’s Dream,” in the Running Wild Press Novella Anthology 3 Volume 2 in December 2019. Frankie previously published a collection of short fiction, The Sin Eater & Other Stories with Queen’s Ferry Press in 2013. Of this book, Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Unsettling imagery and hauntingly beautiful language characterize these stories, as ephemeral and indefinable as dreams.” Her work has appeared in Feminist Wire, Fairy Tale Review, Sonora Review, Conjunctions, The New England Review, and Bellevue Literary Review, among others.

People crave measurements to signify progress, but writing doesn’t work like this. There’s no formula that fits every person who writes at every stage of their life. What people have to say will change, how they will write their texts will change, and it is from this loose footing that any person writes. To get any writing done, the method must be flexible and singular to each person. Frankie’s book, Writing from the Fifth Brain offers permission, prompts, and inspiration for the readers of this book to examine the ingredients of their own experiences and get some writing done.

Here is the opening of the chapter titled, “Fluidity,” from Writing from the Fifth Brain: “Every writer I’ve ever known has said at some point, I just want time to write.

This is what I know about making time in the writing life: you must be dogged and you must be fluid. What is fluidity for writers? It is the possibility of making the impossibility-of-no-time into writing time. If you are a writer feeling like you’re not a writer because you have no time, because you have no money, because your faith is lapsing, because your good work isn’t recognized, remember this: the river of writing is always inside of you. It belongs to you. It is ever present. Sometimes it’s murky green and filled with bloated dead cows. Sometimes it sparkles and slaps with fat leaping fish. Other times, it is only a watery thread in black muck. Regardless of its incarnation, it is always there. It belongs to you and only you, and you are responsible for it.”

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The Sin Eater and Other Stories

Damage suffuses The Sin Eater and Other Stories. From within Elizabeth Frankie Rollins’ construct of the blighted home an adulterous husband calls on the services of a stranger to expunge his guilt, a young couple is diagnosed with the bubonic plague, and a bored woman finds herself growing a tail. Yet these others don’t dwell; instead, they frame themselves in a way that is sound in structure and sentiment and plunges them from metaphor into modern-day marvel. In the evocative stories of this debut collection, even the tightest crevices dazzle with restorative possibility.

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“Then, readers take a sharp turn into the fantastical with an eerie fairy tale called Doctor Porchiat’s Dream by Frankie Rollins that follows the adventures of a quirky physician in a superstitious town as he chases scientific proof of the soul. . . [and makes] full use of the novella form by deftly exploring the perspectives of various characters.”

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The Grief Manuscript 

Here are remnants carried over from the surreal specificity of living in the threshold of loss. Rollins’ power lies not in getting over but in her attention while being in the midst. In fact, this is her invitation, her demand, and her gift. Open this book knowing you’ll be greeted by pain so pure as to border on the ecstatic. Expect, too, to be seared by immaculate images, ransacked by dexterous tonal range, and shorn to the bone by the wry sweep of grief written into, which is not to say explained. Each time I read The Grief Manuscript, I am wildly undone, genuinely grateful, and profoundly impressed.

–TC Tolbert

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Doctor Porchiat’s Dream

in Running Wild Press Novella Anthology 3 Volume 2

Writing from the Fifth Brain

Frankie has thought deeply about the psychology of people who write, and she has found ways to guide them into their own processes. Her manuscript, Writing from the Fifth Brain, is the culmination of this work, a book that teaches readers how to understand and value their own imaginations and harness those wonders to the page. She has honed a way to help people understand their own patterns of sustaining their own thinking and writing routines. She is currently seeking a publisher for this book. Along with Tucson writers, Eric Aldrich and Sandra Shattuck, Frankie is part of the Fifth Brain Collective, a social media project and coming YouTube channel that advocates for artists getting their work made.

Upcoming Events

The Grief Manuscript video is a multi-media collaborative response to the raw and fanciful language of the book by the same title. Artists, animators, composers, and musicians created evocative pieces in response to the emotionally present language of this book describing the post-divorce grief process. Produced during the pandemic, the quilt of motion, color, and sound in this experimental video speaks to the dream-like and repeating gestures of loss we experience on a personal and global level, while illustrating the power of artmaking as salve.

This unconventional video was directed and produced by Tucson’s Rogue Violin Studios’ Samantha Bounkeua, and Fort Collins’ digital artist, Cyane Tornatzky (recipient of SUPERNOVA’s Director’s Choice selection in Denver, September 2020 for the animation “Where I Am When I’m Not with You”). The Grief Manuscript video features pieces by Popnarkotic’s Jimi Giannati, Kimi Eisele, Marilyn Keating, Kevin Monko, Eric Aldrich, Doranimation’s Jim Doran, Chas Foster, Samantha Bounkeua, Cyane Tornatzky, and Frankie Abralind.

The Grief Manuscript Video release party is on zoom!

Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 6:00-7:30 pm MST. Join us : https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88444477962

Frankie is working on fiction projects, too. She’s got a new collection of short stories in progress, The Empty House Fairytales, and a novel set in Tucson and Philadelphia that deals with WWI and the Spanish Flu.

Frankie moderated and participated on a panel, “The Cultural Contours of Grief,” for the 2021 Virtual Associated Writing Programs Conference coming up in March with Michelle Chikoanda, Monica Santos, and Kimi Eisele.


Teaching 

Frankie has taught creative writing to a wide range of folks including fourth graders, college students, and adults. For nine years, she traveled New Jersey as a teaching artist, teaching creative writing workshops in the schools. During the same period, Frankie taught her own creative writing workshop series to adults in various locations including an imports store, a florist, and multiple living rooms. Frankie taught in community colleges in New Jersey and Philadelphia before moving to Tucson, AZ where she became full-time English faculty at Pima Community College. Now she teaches Honors and Creative Writing classes, and serving as the faculty advisor for Pima’s award-winning art and literary magazine, SandScript.

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