Book Talk: Frazier returns to home state for third novel

Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:46am EST
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By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Charles Frazier's novel "Cold Mountain" was a bestselling and critical phenomenon in 1996 and later became an Academy Award-winning movie, which is not bad considering it was the 46-year-old's debut.

Ten years later, the North Carolina native returned to his home state and the 19th century with "Thirteen Moons," another best-seller.

His latest novel, "Nightwoods," takes readers to early 1960s North Carolina, where Luce, a backwoods recluse, takes in her mute, pyromaniac twin niece and nephew after their stepdad murders their mother.

Frazier, who will be 61 on November 4, spoke to Reuters about the book and his career.

Q: How did the idea for this book develop?

A: "I had a different idea -- the place was going to be the same, and Luce would have been one of a group of secondary characters. I worked for maybe six months along those lines and then just got more interested in Luce. And then when the kids came into the book I kind of shifted gears and the book became more Luce's book. The old lodge, the lake, the setting was probably the first thing I had."

Q: You write extensively about nature in your books. How did you attain such knowledge of botany, animals and landforms?

A: "I've always been interested in the woods, even when I was just a little boy. Second or third grade after school on a fall day we would be wanting to get out into the woods, tromp around. So there's that level of observation and experience. Another part of it is sort of construction. I don't know nearly as many plant identification terms as I really should. I have to work that out when I need it. I learn it and then I forget it in a year. But I can re-learn it."   Continued...