Franklin-based author Brian Allen Carr goes low in ‘Bad Foundations’ novel

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Brian Allen Carr
Franklin-based novelist Brian Allen Carr sold cars before taking a job in home foundation inspection. (Photo provided by Clash Fiction)

Anxiety and the unknown are major themes of “Bad Foundations,” the new novel by “Opioid, Indiana” author Brian Allen Carr.

The Texas native who lives in Franklin works as a home foundation inspector, and plenty of that work seeps into the pages of “Bad Foundations.”

When the book’s narrator, a character named Cook, descends into a crawlspace, Carr has been there and he knows it’s not a place for everyone.

“If somebody did a really high-end artistic ‘life of a crawlspace’ movie for National Geographic, it would be remarkable,” Carr said. “There are spiders, and one will be king of the castle down there being arrogant maybe. You’ll find bats living down there. All kinds of crap. Not always. Sometimes there’s nothing.”

Above ground, homeowners brace for the unknown. Bad news can arrive in the form of mold or rotted wood.

“Each crawlspace is like its own little universe that maybe people have been in once or twice in 50 years,” Carr said. “I’ve been under homes where people say, ‘Nobody’s ever gone back there. They can’t fit.’ I go back there and I’m in that space for the first time anybody’s been in that space.”

Carr expanded these cozy confines into a story that addresses quantum mechanics and Indiana’s blurry relationship with hemp-derived Delta-8.

Cook wonders, for instance, if things exist if they’re not seen. He encounters families with identical characteristics in two different towns. And a hotel clerk in Ohio more or less lives in the future.

Carr said the quantum mechanics aspect of the book was influenced by company leaders who believe in manifestation.

“People in CEO positions will say stuff like, ‘Trust God, but everybody else bring data,’ ” Carr said. “In that equation, God equals people plus data. That basically means data is closer to God than a person. Honestly, that dovetails with ‘Opioid, Indiana,’ my last book, because the reason we have that problem is because of very good salespeople.”

Carr’s first novel, 2017’s “Sip,” is a futuristic tale in which people drink shadows for sustenance or thrills. He worked as an English teacher when he wrote 2019’s “Opioid, Indiana,” a story focused on a teenager scrambling to find $800 to pay rent.

In “Bad Foundations,” the drive to meet sales goals ramps up anxiety in Cook. The recovering alcoholic turns to Delta-8 gummies, the “legal weed” available at many Indiana gas stations.

Carr said he understands why lawmakers take a hands-off approach to cannabinoid products in Indiana.

“As it stands, the stoners are happy and the politicians aren’t dirty,” Carr said. “Why poke a bear? In some ways, I think it’s kind of genius.”

Carr is a two-time winner of a Wonderland Book Award, given for superior achievement in “bizarro fiction writing.” He said he’s likely nearing the end of his foundation inspection days. He sold cars between teaching stints and when he headed into crawlspaces for a paycheck.

“I had always wanted to do a ‘jobs’ book,” Carr said of “Bad Foundations,” which arrived in stores Tuesday.

The camaraderie among inspectors in “Bad Foundations” is reflective of modern life, Carr said.

“Coworkers will talk deep into the evening through text in a way that they never would have before,” he said. “You’ll have very loose acquaintances at work who you’ll text with off-hours about something. In some ways, that builds a deeper community between them.”

Overall, Carr describes “Bad Foundations” as his most autobiographical work.

“A lot of the drama in the book is not real,” he said. “But a lot of the stories are.”

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