Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Charles Frazier at the DBF

The Saturday night keynote at this year's Decatur Book Festival featured Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier talking with former Atlanta Journal Constitution book editor Teresa Weaver about his new novel Thirteen Moons.

With the publication of Cold Mountain in 1997, Frazier, who lives in the North Carolina mountains outside Asheville, became almost an overnight sensation. Now, nine years later, having won the National Book Award and seen his first novel turned into a star-studded movie, he has published his second novel.

Asked why so much time had passed between Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, Frazier explained that the publicity tours for CM had lasted more than two years. After that, he took a much needed year-long break before moving on to his next project.

Frazier freely admits that he doesn’t work particularly quickly. But he also didn't want his sophomore novel to be the “red headed stepchild” to Cold Mountain.

He began writing Thirteen Moons in the third person. It’s the story of Will Cooper, an orphan adopted and raised by a Cherokee elder in the North Carolina mountains in the years before the Civil War and the Trail of Tears. But as he progressed with the story, he realized that in order to make the novel move along better he needed to write it in the voice of Will.

He was asked whether he considers Thirteen Moons a love story. His reply: Partly. But its also about Will’s ability to balance the competing desires in his life and his responsibilities to the Cherokee people who raised him and are now threatened with removal. Will has to find that elusive balance between the self and one’s community.

In talking about the movie version of CM, he explained that Renee Zellweger was interested in the movie rights before the book was even published. Apparently she had seen one of the Advanced Reader’s Editions of the book, rough versions sent out to media and booksellers ahead of publication for informational and P.R. purposes.

Frazier also revealed the the movie rights for Thirteen Moons have already been snapped up.

Frazier was joined on stage by Myrtle Driver Johnson who has published a Cherokee translation of part of Thirteen Moons. This is the first time in over 175 years that an English text has been rendered into Cherokee.

Johnson, who grew up talking Cherokee and didn’t learn English until she was 6, talked about the difficulties of doing such a translation. So many English objects etc. have to be described by several words as no specific Cherokee words exist for them.

The Cherokee language is on the resurgence in North Carolina. Johnson spoke of a total immersion day care programs that have started where young children are left in an exclusively Cherokee linguistic environment during the day so they can grow up speaking their ancestral language.

Proceeds from the sale of Johnson’s Thirteen Moons translation go to support organizations promoting Cherokee language efforts.

Charles Frazier is a man of craft. He’d rather write a good book than churn out several books to capitalize on earlier success. Thirteen Moons is a worthy successor to Cold Mountain. I’m sure his next novel will appropriately complete the triumvirate.