Houses Burning and Other Ruins


About the Author

William R. Soldan grew up in and around the Rust Belt city of Youngstown, Ohio, where he lives with his wife and two children. A high school dropout and college graduate, he holds a BA in English Literature from Youngstown State University and an MFA from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program. His work appears in publications such as New World Writing, Kentucky Review, Gordon Square Review, Thuglit, (b)OINK, Mystery Tribune, The Best American Mystery Stories 2017, and many others. He’s at if you want to connect.

Desperation. Violence. Broken homes and broken hearts. Fathers, junkies, and thieves. In this gritty new collection, one bad choice begets another, and redemption is a twisted mirage. An ex-addict takes a detour with his young son and comes face-to-face with an old drug dealer and an unsettled debt. A down-on-his-luck gambler visits his estranged sister while figuring out his next play. An Iraq War vet fights a personal battle to reconcile life as a civilian. Three boyhood friends stumble upon a dark secret in a rural dump. These and the other troubled characters that inhabit the streets and alleys of these stories continually find themselves at the mercy of a cold, indifferent world as they hurtle downward and grapple for hard-won second chances in a life that seldom grants them.


“In Houses Burning and Other Ruins, William R. Soldan spins epic tragedies on a domestic scale. His characters struggle to survive their own poor choices in a world of limited opportunities. This makes their glaring flaws both familiar and heartbreakingly real. Inside these stories are your friends, co-workers, cousins, and neighbors hiding the shame of addiction, abuse, and extreme desperation behind an ordinary weekday mask. And it’s done so effortlessly, the urgency of the words connects with the reader immediately. Soldan is a unique, gritty literary voice in noir fiction.”

—J.D. Graves, EconoClash Review

“The pages bound together in Soldan’s Houses Burning and Other Ruins are jaw-dropping. Rendered in unflinching prose, these are haunting stories in which we witness the scandalous undoings of unusually deep, conflicted people that, on any given day, most would bustle right past. Soldan is the kind of writer we need right now.”

—Robert Vaughan, author of Funhouse, Editor-in-Chief, Bending Genres

“My gawd, these characters, these lives-on-fire characters—Soldan’s Houses Burning and Other Ruins is a stunning collection full of hardscrabble folk, written with such honesty and care that one can’t help but be reminded of the late Larry Brown.”

—Adam Van Winkle, author of While They Were in the Field and Hardway Juice, Editor-in-Chief, Cowboy Jamboree

“If you like your fiction atmospheric, bleak, and visceral, then Houses Burning and Other Ruins is obligatory reading. It’s a treasure trove of noir gems, which will stay with you, seared into your brain, long after you’ve turned the last page. In the manner of a great artist, Soldan’s tight and spartan prose paints a human landscape denuded of hope, but crawling with humanity, or what’s left of it—souls at rock bottom and spiraling even further down as they seek escape. Soldan delves below the façades, lays bare the trauma and disconnection that is the reality for too many and invites us into the ruinous playground of those evil twins, desolation and desperation. This is the dark side of the American Dream. Read it: you won’t forget it.”

—A.B.Patterson, author of the PI Harry Kenmare novels and short stories.


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