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Howard Frank Mosher

Howard Frank Mosher

Author of:

Author Interview with Howard Frank Mosher, Author of "Walking to Gatlinburg"
Created By: BookBundlz

About You:

1.  If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?

1.  Mark Twain:  I’d like to thank the old boy for Huckleberry Finn, my all-time favorite novel.
2.  Charles Dickens:  I’d like to thank him, too, especially for Great Expectations.
3.  William Gay:  Gay, who’s from rural Tennessee, is one of my top three or four contemporary writers.  I especially love his novels Twilight and The Long Home, and his superb story collection, I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down.

2.  If you could take only one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island, what would they be?
Book:  The Collected Works of William Shakespeare
Food Item:  Cabot’s “Seriously Sharp” Cheese
Drink:  Bud, the King of Beers – what else?

3.  What are your secret indulgences?
I’m a closet reader of all kinds of thrillers and mysteries.  Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett are two of my favorite writers.

4.  What about you would surprise your readers?
Unlike my wild and (often) crazy characters, I lead an amazingly dull life.  A typical day consists of writing from early morning until 5 or 6 p.m., then spending the evening reading.

5.  What is your perfect day as an author?
I just described it in Question #4.

6.  If you could be any fictional character who would it be?
Ranger Gus McCrae from Lonesome Dove.  Imagine seeing the American West of his era!

7.  What are the book(s) you are reading now?
I’m re-reading Richard Russo’s Bridge of Sighs and Empire Falls.  I think Russo is our best novelist since Faulkner and our funniest novelist since Twain.

8.  What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?
The Bible.  As a teen, I wrote a parody of it, to make my dear high school friend, Phillis, now my wife of 45 years, laugh.

9.  What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?
I’d recommend To Kill a Mockingbird.  This year Harper Lee’s great novel will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Critical opinion is divided over whether it’s a great novel, but it is surely a great and transformative book.

About Your Book:

10.  Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
A friend from North Carolina told me a story about her great, great grandfather.  His name was Jasper Memory.  Jasper was conscripted into the Confederate Army at 19.  Soon afterward, he was captured and sent to the infamous Union prison at Elmira, N. Y.  While he was imprisoned at Elmira, Jasper asked a fellow prisoner who had been a dentist in civilian life to make, from a small gold button on Jasper’s overcoat, an engagement ring for his fiancé back in the Great Smokies.  When the war was over, Jasper walked all the way from Elmira to N. Carolina to give the ring to his beloved.

11.  They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy.  What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?
People have asked me if Walking to Gatlinburg is an anti-war book.  I think that it’s more of an anti-violence novel.  The young hero, Morgan Kinneson, may face his greatest challenge of all – if he survives the war – in getting beyond the violence he’s seen and been part of.

 12.  Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book.  What surprised you about your book?
I think I was most surprised by the character Slidell Collateral Dinwiddie, a beautiful, young fugitive slave woman.  She began as a very minor character, but kept “taking over” more and more of the story.  Ultimately, she and Morgan fell in love.  I had no idea something that wonderful would happen.

About Your Writing Process:

13.  If you were crafting a discussion question for book clubs to discuss about your book, what question do you think would generate the most discussion?
As you know from reading WALKING TO GATLINBURG, Morgan never does wind up with Slidell.  Were you surprised?  Disappointed?  Why do you think I decided not to let them get together at the end of the story?
Bonus Question:  Of the five psychopathic killers hunting Morgan in WALKING TO GATLINBURG, who do you think is the most frightening?  Why?

14.  What is your writing process like?
I write all my books “long” at first.  The first draft of Walking to Gatlinburg was 1,150 pages long.  Often my novels go through 40 – 50 drafts.  Walking to Gatlinburg – my 10th novel – took 7 years to write.  The process is slow, hit-or-miss, and quite mysterious.  There are no blueprints and no shortcuts.

15.  What gets you in the mood to write?
That’s never an issue.  I wait to start a new novel until I can’t not write it.  From that moment on, I’m always in the mood to write.

16.  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read the very best books in whatever genre you hope to write in yourself.  The best writers I know, without exception, are the best-read people I know.

I will be glad to do telephone interviews with book clubs.  I will also be happy to consider offers to visit book clubs to give my presentation for Walking to Gatlinburg, “Transforming History into Fiction:  The Story of a Born Liar.” Please visit my website at for additional information.   Very best, Howard Frank Mosher

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