About the Book

“Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do”
Questions of Identity and Abandonment
by Janet Steele Holloway

Questions of identity and abandonment haunt the linked stories that make up Janet Holloway’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do. In writing at once intimate and sweeping, Holloway sketches the saga of a twentieth-century Appalachian family. At the book’s heart lie three generations of women, richly rendered in Holloway’s spot-on dialogue and closely observed detail. Billie, the matriarch, knows all the secrets and calls the shots, as she capably runs a string of businesses across several states.

A bold and unrepentant moonshiner, Billie runs whiskey to Chicago in the 1920s (for which she eventually serves jail time), keeps a farm going in Virginia, and owns the Pioneer Beer Garden in the heart of Hatfield country in West Virginia. Bess, her adopted daughter, an unstable beauty unsure of who she is, continually tries to escape her roles as wife and mother. And Janet, Bess’s child, helpless in the currents of her parents’ needs, tries to make sense of the lives around her. Both vulnerable and strong-minded, she finds her anchor in Billie’s “unrestrained yet tough love.”


Excerpt from the Book

The music and cigarette smoke led Billie down her own path of memory and suffering.. She had lost her three month old baby to pneumonia, then her husband had disappeared. No one, least of all Billie, knew where Arthur had gone or if he was still alive. The two of them had been in Chicago making a moonshine delivery when he had gone out for razor blades one night and never came back.  People said his disappearance had something to do with his moonshine business. Sometimes the sadness and the weight of these years took her breath away. But Billie was strong.

She saw the two women nearby and moved closer to hear their conversation. ‘Were they really talking about a baby for sale?’ she wondered. They were!  Some woman had had to give up her baby and the child was for sale. ‘I think I’ll go check this out.’ as she turned onto the one-lane dirt road.”

Book Reviews

For the book:  “Leaving: Sometimes You Have to Leave”


“This highly readable collection yields a complex portrait of resilient women and girls as they navigate decades of economic uncertainty and look for ways to blossom in a patriarchal mountain culture.” – Leatha Kendrick, Poet, Author, And Luckier, Second Opinion


“I can’t say enough about the writing itself in Nobody’s Business If I Do.  It is excellent throughout.  The whole book is captivating.  There is so much more I want to see and know about these people and this place. This is good, important work.” – Sara Combs, author of Breakfast Served Anytime and The Light Fantastic


“Your poem, Where I Come From, grabbed me by the ears and crammed my head into your tears, your dreams, your heartbreaks and your hopes. You pushed me down this path of your past…and any book for which this is the outline might well be great.  Bring it on!”  – Dan Martin, former editor and publisher with Gannett; founding staffer for USA Today; former president and publisher of News-Press, Fort Myers


“These stories are like little movies.  I can vividly see, hear and feel the characters. The author creates a richly evocative sense of place and time.  Beautiful details of artifacts like the Wurlitzer jukebox, popular music and clothing put us in the moment.  My favorite is Billie – I don’t know anyone like her but feel I’ve met her in these pages.  A unique and memorable character.” – Elaina Zuker, best selling author