For those of you who have had the chance to read Ann’s powerful debut GHOST ON BLACK MOUNTAIN, you already know what a gifted writer she is and what an incredible tale she has woven in the layers of her story. For those of you who haven’t yet, let us to tempt you with a summary:
ONCE A PERSON LEAVES THE MOUNTAIN, THEY NEVER COME BACK, NOT REALLY. THEY’RE LOST FOREVER.
Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even noticing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it in her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she could, to go back home before it was too late. Hobbs wasn’t nothing but trouble. He’d even killed a man. No telling what else. That mountain was haunted, and soon enough, Nellie would feel it too. One way or another, Hobbs would get what was coming to him. The ghosts would see to that. . . .
Told in the stunning voices of five women whose lives are inextricably bound when a murder takes place in rural Depression-era North Carolina, Ann Hite’s unforgettable debut spans generations and conjures the best of Southern folk-lore—mystery, spirits, hoodoo, and the incomparable beauty of the Appalachian landscape.
Ann has come by to share some thoughts on the writing—and reading—life with us all—AND she is also giving away a signed copy of GHOST ON BLACK MOUNTAIN to one lucky commenter (US only, please)!
Ann Hite Takes the Deb Ball Interview!
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
This one is simple for me. I love and have loved Scout Finch since I first read To Kill A Mockingbird when I was eight years old after seeing the movie for the first time. I’ve since read the book for umpteen times, and I’m working on umpteenth and one right now. Scout was my dream of who I could be. As a child I looked for ‘girl’ characters to read. They were few and far between. I loved Scout because she was from the South, so I could relate to her language. She lived during the Depression and having been raised by my grandmother, who lost everything she hand—including her home—in this time period, the Great Depression came to the supper table with us each night. Scout’s story reminded me of the stories grandmother told. Scout gave me a glimpse of who I would become as an adult through my reaction to the Tom Robinson trial. Civil rights and equality for all became the subjects of my first stories. Scout gave me a writing voice early on in my career. Today when I read her story, I see her as the adult telling the tale of her life. I imagine what she grew into. In my mind, she turned out to be a civil rights lawyer, fighting battle after battle. Scout influenced both my writing career and the way I see my beloved South.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
Michael Cunningham’s The Hours changed my life. There are few books I can say this about. At the time I was handed this intricately woven story, I was struggling with finding not only my writing voice, but my voice as a woman, a woman who had survived a mother’s mental illness and still struggled to have a relationship with her. The story of Mrs. Brown opened my eyes to what takes place behind the scenes, the things I didn’t know about my mother. What did she struggle with and just maybe in her own way she was attempting to free me from the path she was forced upon. Many people view The Hours as a depressing story, but I do not. I view it as literary genius at the least, and courageous. This book truly changed my career as a novelist. It taught me at all times write the truth and allow the chips to fall where they may.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
First: Put thy butt in the chair. Period. No excuses. Chair and write. Don’t talk about what your writing. Do it. How many different ways can I say this. Carolyn See says—and I follow her advice—write a 1,000 words a day, five days a week, and send a nice note to someone once a day. This is the best advice I can give. If you follow this, you will have a book in no time and followers interested in your success.
What’s your next big thing?
I am currently working on the final edits to my second novel, Barren Soul. Gallery Books will release it in July 2013. Barren Soul is the story of Shelly Parker, a character in Ghost On Black Mountain. She has sight, which allows her to see spirits and talk with them. Every book you write is like writing your first book. Ghost On Black Mountain seemed to write itself because the story had been in me for so long waiting to jump out. The structure just formed. Barren Soul is a whole other animal. Good thing I love what I do. Also, Gallery will release an ebook exclusive prequel novella, The Death Bell, shortly before Barren Soul hits the bookstores. I had to stretch my wings on this one. I stepped out of my box and wrote about slavery. At one point the subject seemed so huge, I was sure I would never be able to tell a story set in that time. Finally, I thought about my granddaughters and how part of their history is tied in with these events. I owed it to them to come as close as I could to stepping in the shoes of these particular set of characters, three slave girls. It was quite an experience.
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?
First, you must know I’m a book junkie. Period. Some people hoped to meet movie stars. I dream of meeting authors. The week Ghost on Black Mountain came out I was scheduled to read at SIBA (Southern Independent Bookstore Association) I was terrified. You just don’t know. Some novelist can stand in front of a crowd and be at ease. It is work for me. It is this very trait that allows me to spend hours alone writing. Anyway, I arrived at the conference center in Charleston, South Carolina and was directed to the side of the room where the authors would sit. I was the first one there. Before long all my idols began to file in and take a seat close by. I will tell you that I sat with the First Ladies of Southern Fiction, so use your imagination. My favorite author stood up and approached me. Mary Alice Monroe introduced herself—like she had to—and told me she wanted to read my book. For me this was so powerful. Then I had the honor to read right after Patti Callahan Henry, another one of my favorites. All these women helped me relax and enjoy the experience. I met two dear friends that night that I have kept in contact with: Karen Spears Zacharias and Marybeth Whalen. They have been mentors to me in many ways.
Ann Hite’s debut novel, Ghost On Black Mountain, not only became a Townsend Prize Finalist but won Georgia Author of the Year Best First Novel 2012. Barren Soul, her second Black Mountain novel, will be released by Gallery Books July 2013. Ann lives in Smyrna Georgia. To learn more about Ann and her writing, you can visit her website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook!
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Ann, thank you so much for visiting with us today! Remember to leave a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of GHOST ON BLACK MOUNTAIN!