The Empire Rolls is a novel about roller derby, DIY culture, private space, public land, and the changing landscape of the Midwest just before the economic crash of 2008.  Sally LaChance is a Missouri park ranger and the emcee for a local roller derby team, the Boonslick Bombers. When she loses her temper with an arrogant band of industrial polluters, she puts her job, her reputation, and her life at risk.


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The Empire Rolls Trailer: a film by Brian Maurer


Advance Praise for The Empire Rolls:

“Roller derby, menace and mayhem, the limits we stretch, the lines we cross, the lives we make. At its heart, The Empire Rolls is a love story, and Trudy Lewis is a writer of enormous gifts.  Pay attention.  We’re out on the jam, and who knows what may be waiting around the turns.”

–Lee Martin, author of The Bright Forever

“Trudy Lewis is that rare, fearless writer who is unafraid of revealing the shadow side of our culture.  In her new, masterfully-written novel, The Empire Rolls, she invites the reader into the heart of the heart of the country, to a mid-sized Midwestern town, where intimate relationships, and even love itself, are twisted out of shape by the forces of war, greed, and inequality.  Written in electric, page-turning prose, Lewis turns her exquisitely tuned ear to the private lamentations that trick down from public woes,  In the tradition of her contemporaries Russell Banks and Richard Russo, Trudy Lewis tells a compelling story that conveys with consummate insight the depth and texture of ordinary lives–how personal identity is profoundly altered by public events.  This bracingly intelligent novel is a book for our times.”

–Dale Kushner, author of The Conditions of Love

“From the first scene at the roller derby I was whipped into the jam of The Empire Rolls.  You will be too, as Sally and Jared, all-too-human, fight industrial pollution, the body’s frailties, and their own self-destructive tendencies in this compelling, touching and humorous quest to find their way.”

–Allison Amend, author of A Nearly Perfect Copy

“In this sharp, sensuous, powerfully observed novel, a handful of human beings in an embattled Missouri town struggle to make sense–to make lives–of what’s given, bringing scrappy ingenuity, and, ultimately, love to the arena.  Tough, lonely, soul-scouring Sally LaChance is someone we never what to leave.  Howling loss is here, and desperation–but so is nerve, curiosity, bittersweet sex, and hard-bargain-driving luck.  It doesn’t take long to recognize pieces of ourselves, and (turning pages faster) to worry and cheer in equal measure.”

–Joan Frank, author of Make It Stay and Because You Have To: A Writing Life

“Skillfully written, with abundant heart and insight.  I hope to see more from this writer in the future.  I expect I will.”

–Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.


  1. I was directed to your site by a friend, who told me that you’d commented favorably on “The Moonflower
    Vine,” a book to which I’ve owned the film rights for years. (It is a vicious bastard of a book to adapt for
    a feature film, but would lay itself out beautifully for a limited mini-seriesl–structured just as Jetta Carleton
    built the book.

    But I digress. I love what you said about Carleton’s novel, and agree that it stands with “Stoner” as
    the best of the Missouri novels…though, truly, I think it’s a bit above the other book.

    Now I’ll go to read about your novels, and may well buy. I send you my thanks and my very

    Best regards,

    Bob Getchell


  2. p.s. Oh, nuts. One of the reasons I wanted to send a note to you was the fact that you admire Joan
    Silber. Have you read her linked stories “Ideas of Heaven”? I’ve read the book two or three times,
    and think you have great taste, both for “The Moonflower Vine” and “Fools.” Bob G.


    1. Glad you like Silber! We had her in as a visiting writer at MU last year and she’s an excellent person, in addition to being a terrific writer. Hope you will go ahead and get “The Moonflower Vine” made in one form or another. I’d love to see it! Best, T


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