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Bottoms Up

historical fiction author has four books, two more on the way

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by Eric Larson photos by Trevor Kupfer

LEAVE THE POT! Local author Bill Bottoms pauses for a cup of joe at Connell’s at the Airport – a favorite hangout for the former pilot.
 
LEAVE THE POT! Local author Bill Bottoms pauses for a cup of joe at Connell’s at the Airport – a favorite hangout for the former pilot.

Society, it seems, is inundated with self-proclaimed history buffs. But for Bill Bottoms, an affable 81 year-old with a knack for local history and a passion for sharing it, the term is more than appropriate. He’s a true buff.

“Yeah, I’d say that describes me pretty well,” he said with a laugh. “There’s something about history that’s just always really interested me.”

And his career has certainly emulated his fervor. To date, he’s written multiple books of historical fiction and he has plans to finish another.

“I’ve always had an interest in writing, as well, so to combine the two just made sense,” he said.

After serving in the Korean War, Bottoms became an active member of the VFW, where he worked as editor for the Iowa VFW newspaper for 11 years before moving to the Wisconsin branch.

“Don’t get me wrong … I loved my editing jobs. But I’d always wanted to write about history,” he said. “I decided, way back when, that I wanted to write a book. Around that same time, I was working for a magazine and thought to myself, ‘This is all current content. You can’t write about history for a magazine. … I’m in the wrong industry!’ That was sort of the jumping-off point.”

His first book, The History of the VFW (or just VFW for short), was released in 1989. As the title suggests, it’s primarily a collection of his personal accounts as a member, as well as a detailed history of the organization.

After moving to the Chippewa Valley when his wife accepted a job as the Dean of the Nursing School at UW-Eau Claire a few years later, Bottoms made sure – per usual – to familiarize himself with the history of the area. Upon a few trips to local museums, he struck an epiphany for another story – this time, in the form of a trilogy.

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