Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani (The Shoemaker's Wife) talks to Wiley Cash about why he loves book clubs, his inspiration for his bestselling novel, and more!
- First and foremost I’d like to congratulate you on the success of your debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. As a writer, I know that inspiration can come from many different places— a quote, a childhood experience, the sky’s the limit. What inspired you to write this novel?
Thanks, Adriana. I’d like to congratulate you on the success of The Shoemaker’s Wife.
The inspiration for this novel kind of found me. In the fall of 2003 I left North Carolina and moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, to attend graduate school. One night, in a class on African-American literature, my professor brought in a news story about a young African-American boy with autism who was smothered in a healing service on the south side of Chicago. I found the story incredibly tragic, but I was also interested in a community of believers that would literally believe something to death. I felt compelled to tell this boy’s story and the story of the community that surrounded him.
- In my opinion, the setting of a novel is often as important as the characters themselves in helping a writer tell the story. You do an excellent job here of using your setting—the mountains of North Carolina—to do just that. What drew you to write about this particular region and culture?
After moving to Louisiana I found myself immediately and incredibly homesick for western North Carolina. I grew to love Lafayette, and I still do; it’s a second home to me, but I never feel more at home than when I’m in the mountains of North Carolina.
As I mentioned, I wanted to tell the story of this young boy in Chicago, but I’d never visited the city and I couldn’t portray the South Side’s African-American community. But I realized that if I took this tragedy and set it in the mountains of North Carolina I could do two things: I could tell this story, and I could go home again.
|Author Wiley Cash|
- One of the things I love most about this novel is that it’s told from very different perspectives—ranging from a young boy to a woman in her eighties to a middle-aged sheriff. As readers can see from your author photo you don’t fit any of these criteria. Did you find it difficult to write from different viewpoints?
At first it was difficult to imagine the role each of these narrators would play in the novel, but as I grew to know them better I realized that each narrator possessed a particular knowledge about the tragedy involving the young boy, and I understood that each of them viewed it from a very different perspective. This story belongs to the community, and I had to let the community tell it.
- A lot of writers believe that a story tells itself. Did you know the ending of A Land More Kind Than Home from the beginning or did it unfold as you wrote? And do you view the ending as a tragedy or a new beginning?
This is a tragic story, and I knew that another tragedy would take place toward the end of the novel, but I never imagined that it would close on such a positive, hopeful note. Adelaide’s coda really caught me by surprise; it made her seem and feel even more real to me because she is the only one who could bring the community together again and start the healing process. That being said, I suppose I view the tragedy at the end of the novel as a new beginning. That’s having it both ways, isn’t it? Oh well.
- I’m a huge fan of book clubs. In my mind, there’s nothing better than getting together to discuss your favorite book over a glass of wine. Are there any particular themes that book clubs might enjoy exploring in your book?
I think book clubs are wonderful too, and there are a lot of issues in A Land More Kind Than Home for book clubs to discuss: the power of faith, community responsibility, family secrets, marriage and infidelity. A lot of book clubs have wanted to talk about the role of the boys’ mother in the novel: Was she a good mother who believed her son could be healed, or was she a bad mother who invited tragedy upon her family?
- Most writers are big readers, including myself. What are some of your all-time favorite books and/or writers?
There are three books I’m always reading for different reasons: Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel because of its evocation of the city of Asheville, North Carolina, a place I love; Jean Toomer’s Cane because of its beautiful prose; and Ernest J. Gaines’s Of Love and Dust because of how much it’s taught me about dialogue, brevity, and character development.
Some more contemporary books I’ve really enjoyed are by friends of mine: Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime, Lydia Netzer’s Shine, Shine, Shine, Matt Bondurant’s The Night Swimmer, and Michael Kardos’s The Three-Day Affair. One of the best things about having my novel published has been the opportunity to meet so many talented writers who also happen to be super cool. I love to tell readers about good books that I know have been written by good people. That being said, folks should pick up a copy of The Shoemaker’s Wife!