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Friday, November 3, 2023

It's a 'historic' state of mind



“I've never been very attached to genre labels and never set out intentionally to write historic fiction. Besides, what you consider historic depends on how far back your memory extends.” – Charles Frazier


Born on this date in 1950, Frazier none-the-less has been one of the historical fiction genre’s top writers, including winning the National Book Award for his masterpiece Cold Mountain – a Civil War tale of a wounded Confederate deserter.  The book, adapted for the big screen, also won a handful of Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Renee Zellweger.


“While writing Cold Mountain, I held maps of two geographies, two worlds, in my mind as I wrote,” Frazier said.  “One was an early map of North Carolina. Overlaying it, though, was an imagined map of the landscape Jack (the main character) travels in the southern Appalachian folktales. He's much the same Jack who climbs the beanstalk, vulnerable and clever ... and opportunistic.”


Frazier’s writing is rich in the culture and sensibilities of the North Carolina mountains where he sets most of his work based on local history and stories. His new (2023) novel, The Trackers, follows a painter during the Great Depression who tracks down a woman with a valuable painting.


Frazier said he likes to include music from the area and the era in which he writes – another feature that sets it apart.  


  “It always helps me connect with characters, to think about what music they respond to,” Frazier said.  “I love music.  If I had to give up reading or give up listening to music, I suspect I'd stick with the music.”

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