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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash, and talk with author

Rash’s suspense novel gives time to poetryby Rob Neufeld             Ron Rash’s new novel, “Above the Waterfall,” weds a contemporary thriller with a portrayal of people tapping an ancient way of being.             A fish kill precipitates the story involving fishing rights, a crystal meth epidemic, and two reeling…See More
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson reveals how surreal emotions areby Rob Neufeld             Adam Johnson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son,” comes to Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, 7 p.m., Fri., Sept. 4 to present his new book of short stories, “Fortune Smiles.”            The stories are remarkable…See More
Aug 23
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Leanne Brown will Present Her Cookbook at City Lights Bookstore

September 4, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Leanne Brown will visit City Lights Bookstore to present her cookbook on Friday, September 4th at 6:30 p.m. Her book, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day is designed for those on the strictest of budgets, particularly those on the U.S. food stamp budget. This book is great, though, for anyone wanting to eat really well cheaply. Good and Cheap features tips on shopping and kitchen equipment, and more than a hundred easy, flexible recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To reserve a copy,…See More
Aug 22
Spellbound updated an event
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September Teen Book Club at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

September 18, 2015 from 6pm to 7pm
Our new monthly book club for teens meets the third Friday of each month, 6:00-7:00PM. A different book will be discussed at each meeting, and will cover a variety of genres. No purchase is required to attend, but if you do plan to buy the book, we’d appreciate your support of Spellbound as the hosting store! All book club selections are 20% off until the day of the meeting.September's title: SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE by Marcus Sedgwick.See More
Aug 22
Spellbound posted events
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Betty Smith at Hendersonville culture event September 17

Center Kicks Off New Series With A BangNew “Keeping the Fires Burning Series” Launches With Betty Smith and Songcatcher (from press release) (HENDERSONVILLE, NC, August 18, 2015) – The Center for Cultural Preservation, is pleased to announce the launch of its second season of its popular public program series KEEPING THE FIRES BURNING- Heroes of Mountain Culture.  The series features musicians, authors and heritage preservation leaders who are working to keep mountain culture alive.  The…See More
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Pam Durban, author of Soon, gripping, psychological, Southern stories

Pam Durban: Facing reality with a wide-open eyeby Rob Neufeld             John Updike honored Pam Durban’s story, “Soon,” by selecting it for his anthology, “The Best American Short Stories of the Century.”  Now, it’s one of 11 included in Durban’s new volume, also titled “Soon.”            “Soon,” the short story, is a marvel…See More
Aug 21
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Aug 19
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Mary Joyce Returns with a New Book at City Lights Bookstore

September 12, 2015 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Sylva author, Mary Joyce will return to City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, September 12th at 3 p.m. to present her latest book.Underground Military Bases Hidden in North Carolina Mountains compiles information gathered by Joyce over several years about secret military facilities in North Carolina. The information about the secret bases is mostly from those with military, law enforcement and high-security backgrounds plus citizens who have stumbled upon evidence. Joyce is also the author…See More
Aug 18
Bill Ramsey posted an event

North Carolina Writer's Network Fall Conference at Asheville Doubletree Hilton

August 20, 2015 to August 22, 2015
When did you last attended a top quality and affordable writer's conference? The North Carolina Writer's Network is returning to western North Carolina. Membership in the Network is encouraged but not required to attend this event. For more info:http://www.ncwriters.org/2014-01-07-18-05-50/conferencesSee More
Aug 15
katherine soniat posted photos
Aug 12
Rob Neufeld commented on Joe Epley's blog post Speaking about the American Revollution in the Carolinas
"See Joe's website, Epley Writes, including about his novel, A Passel of Hate,"
Aug 12
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

R.T. Smith--Rachel-Rivers Coffey Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at App State

R.T. Smith, poet, story-writer, and founder of Cold Mountain Review, honored with App State roleSee notice of new book at Washington & Lee U.fROM PRESS RELEASEBOONE—Writer R.T. (Rod) Smith has been named the 2015-16 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at Appalachian State University. Smith will lead an eight-week colloquium during fall semester for students in Appalachian’s creative writing…See More
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Aug 8

Charles Price answers the riddle of a killer

by Rob Neufeld

(cover images by Britt Kaufmann)

 

            Charles Price, one of the most significant writers of historical sagas in this region, has taken a turn for the West.

            His quartet of Hiwassee Valley novels, starting with “Hiwassee” and concluding with “Where the Water-Dogs Laughed,” stands alongside John Ehle’s sextet, Fred Chappell’s quartet, and Wilma Dykeman’s threesome.

            Price has his own brand—and I don’t mean market niche.  I mean a design that burns and marks his fiction, and which carries over to his latest venture, westerns of a sort.

            “Four Sixes to Beat,” a craps reference, is the third western he has published exclusively as an e-book.  It concerns the life of John Wesley Hardin, the killer. 

            Hardin, as the book opens, is living, toward the end of his life, in El Paso, writing his memoir.  He questions himself, trying to make himself right by the lights of his late father, a Methodist minister.

            So, there is much internal monologue; and dialogue with other characters.  But there’s also a lot of action, fed partly by flashbacks.

            As with Price’s locally set fiction, hard times and hard people dictate an unfashionable level of realism—violence, racism, and, in the Hardin book, sex.  Throughout all his work, as the following interview also reveals, Price seeks to resolve the disturbing chasm between the gentle religion in which he’d been raised—his father was a Methodist minister—and the soulless horrors that plague us still.

            As an aside, I feel there’s always a market for good literature, if the publishers do their jobs.  One  novel with which Price’s fiction has a kinship, “Deadwood” by Pete Dexter, was turned into a very popular HBO series.

 

Q:  How many westerns have you written?

 

A:  I have written several westerns, but it’s more like writing historical novels set in the Old West.  And I have a non-fiction book that will be coming out (in June) about the Espinosas, serial killers, set in 1863. 

 

Q:  How did you come to write about John Wesley Hardin?

 

A:  I was fascinated in imagining the mind-set of a person who was able to kill 42 human beings and justify it…He was the son of a Methodist minister, as I am.

 

Q:  What is part of the explanation?

 

A:  His environment was Reconstruction Era Texas, in which killing had specific social connotations.  It was justified and even applauded by society.  Most of the murders that Hardin committed had been against officials, blacks, and state police.

 

Q:  Have you seen the new Tarantino movie, “Django Unchained?”  The “New York Times” praised its mix of sensationalism and ethical seriousness.  The only ethic I saw was: “slavery—bad.”

 

A:  Tarantino has done more to trivialize violence than almost anybody.  My book is full of blood.  The characters have conversations about violence.  Hardin has a little bit of a conscience left.  He wonders if he is a vessel of violence to be eradicated.  There’s a serious discussion at the end about the meaning of violence.

 

Q:  Hardin’s first flashback is triggered by a smell of apples.  Is smell an important sense in your stories?

 

A:  There’s more and more sensory detail that comes back to him as he considers his victims.  He becomes obsessed.  His killings are coming back to haunt him.  There’s a legend that people who write about Wes Hardin end up being haunted by him.  Leon Metz wrote the biography, “John Wesley Hardin: Dark Angel of Texas.”  I called him when I was doing research.  He felt afraid of Hardin at the time of his writing.  When at a book signing, he felt Hardin’s displeasure so strongly, he found himself sitting outside on the curb afterward, weeping in fear.

 

Q:  What about you?

 

A:   After I finished, I began to feel that there was another presence in the house.  It was like he was saying, “You did good,” which is horrifying to me.  I had not endorsed his actions, but to think that what I had done pleased him was disturbing.  In the end, I came to the conclusion that satisfied me regarding the riddle about who he was.

 

Q:  Can you say something about your connection with Hardin in having Methodist minister fathers?

 

A:  Hardin was named after the founder of Methodism.  His narration is loaded with Biblical allusions.  He was drenched in religious doctrine, yet was one of the worst killers in the West.  He linked himself with people in the Bible who spilled a lot of blood.  The parts of the Bible that people like him cling to come from the Old Testament, which should be seen as a precursor to its fulfillment, the New Testament.  My father (Edgar C. Price) stood for kind and gentle things, and I worshipped him.  I’ve recently been writing about a group of heretics—the Albigensians—in 13th century France against whom the Pope declared a crusade.  The crusaders ran up against a practical problem when they came upon the targeted towns.  Whom should they kill?  There were innocent people among the heretics.  The papal legate said, “Kill them all.”

 

Q:  What’s the reason you’re going with e-books?

 

A:  Rejections I have gotten from publishers have said, “We can’t sell it.”  I never wrote a single line with an idea of the market.  I wrote only what I wanted to write.  I had things I wanted to say…I’ve got a lot of unpublished novels—about ten books that I’ve written over the last 17 years (aside from five bound books in print and one upcoming)—that I want to get out.   Four of them are e-books now.  Britt Kaufmann, the poet, playwright, and graphic artist, did the covers.  She’s brilliant.

 

BOOKS

Four Sixes to Beat: John Wesley Hardin in El Paso by Charles F. Price (e-book, Dec. 15, 2012, $9.99).

Other new Price westerns: Above the Caprock (Nov. 30, 2012); and Vengeance on the Sweetgrass: A Literary Western (Oct. 21, 2012).

New e-book, set in 12th century Europe: Call Down Heaven’s Fire (Jan. 4, 2012). 

 

LEARN MORE

Visit Charles Price’s website at www.charlesfprice.com

 

ART

Book covers:

Four Sixes to Beat

Call down Heaven's Fire

Vengeance on the Sweetgrass

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