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Mark de Castrique posted an event

Malaprop's Bookstore at Malaprop's

November 9, 2015 from 7pm to 8pm
Presenting new Sam Blackman mystery A SPECTER OF JUSTICESee More
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

A Chronology of Asheville and WNC Events in History

                                   IMPORTANT DATES IN ASHEVILLE HISTORY                                                                 by Rob Neufeld 1000: The Cherokee, who’d introduced maize agriculture to the region, began cultivating beans. 1540: Hernando De Soto led troops to East Tennessee through either the Hickory Nut or Swannanoa Gap, finding gold and copper and inspiring a succession of Spanish miners. 1663: Charles II bestows territory between the 31st and 36th parallels in America…See More
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Root-diggers of Appalachia

People in the Lost Provinces were herb-gatherersby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Three herbal products offered by S.B. Penick’s, once the world’s largest herb distributor, its largest warehouse located in Asheville.             “Last week, during a research trip to the ‘Lost Provinces,’” Luke Manget said about the landscape…See More
Mark de Castrique posted a video

A Specter of Justice Preview

A Preview of the new Sam Blackman mystery to be released November 3, 2015
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

"Us versus Them" does not help fight against racism; worsens sectionalism

“Us versus them” is not good historyby Rob Neufeld             Writing about history and the complex lives that play out within it does not sell as well as team spirit, especially in this age of clicks and likes.            I recently confronted this truth when I wrote my article last week about the minds of our leaders in 1851. The word “slavery” was added to the headline to alert people to its relevance.  Seeing that term connected people to a cause they felt strongly about, particularly in…See More
Sep 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Player of Games and the Millennial Mind

Player of Games reveals today’s game-changing mentalityby Rob Neufeld             There is something big happening in Millennial Generation literature, and I thought I’d try to get a handle on it.            To give an idea of one aspect of current thinking: I was at a gathering recently, plenty of youngsters, and I…See More
Sep 27
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan Book Signing at MACA Building

October 10, 2015 from 9am to 1pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will sign her books at the McDowell Arts Council Association (MACA) Booth at the annual Mountain Glory Festival on Saturday, October 10 from 9-1.See More
Sep 22
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Sep 22
Ann Miller Woodford shared their photo on Facebook
Sep 21
Ann Miller Woodford posted a photo

Deacon Chrisenberry -Berry- Howell (1855-1938) on horseback. From the collection of Purel Miller (2)

My maternal great grandfather, Chrisenberry Howell, who was called "Berry" Howell in Swain County. From the Purel Miller collection. Submitted by Ann Miller Woodford
Sep 21
James D. Loy posted a blog post

The skull merchant, the dead ape, and the narcoleptic mortician

Hello "The Read on WNC" readers:     I'm posting this note to announce the publication of vol. 3 in my "Loy's Loonies" series.  This one is called The Mortician's Road Trip and it's a bit more of a mystery than my earlier books. Here's a teaser for the story.     Upstate New Yorker Baz Rathbone makes ends meet by selling human skulls. By contract, he should cremate them, but he doesn’t. His little business comes to the attention of the FBI when a woman spots her late husband’s skull being used…See More
Sep 20
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Sep 19
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Sep 19
Ann Miller Woodford replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Terra Incognita: An Annotated Bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains
"That East Tennessee Christian Association of Friends comment, especially bothered me, but it clarifies the view some folks from outside the region have about us even to this day.   … average intelligence...below that of colored…"
Sep 8
Ann Miller Woodford updated their profile
Sep 8
Carol Anders posted an event

FREUD'S LAST SESSION by Mark St. Germain at All Souls Cathedral Parrish Hall / Biltmore Village

October 4, 2015 from 7pm to 9pm
It is a "sharp, lively discourse, and audience members searching for engaging debate will be pleased, St. Germain's script is astute, and the humor is plentiful."-NY Times. Sigmund Freud invites C. S. Lewis to his home in London  ...they clash about sex, love, the existence of God and the meaning of life - just weeks before Freud took his own life. This play reveals the minds, hearts and souls of two brilliant men.  Afterwards a time to "talk back" with The Very Rev. Todd Donatelli and Dr. Mary…See More
Sep 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.



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). 



Visit Charles Price’s website at



Book covers:

Four Sixes to Beat

Call down Heaven's Fire

Vengeance on the Sweetgrass

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