Best-selling author Wiley Cash closes Appalachian Lecture Series

The New York Times best-selling author Wiley Cash ended Maryville College’s fall 2013 Appalachian Lecture Series on Oct. 15 with readings from his first two novels.

His first novel, “A Land More Kind Than Home,” has won multiple awards and recognitions including a place on The New York Times best-seller list, The New York Times Notable Book of 2012, Crime Writers’ Associations’ Debut Novel of 2012, Appalachian Writers’ Association’s Book of the Year and more. His second novel, which is to be released by Harper Collins in late January 2014, is titled, “This Dark Road to Mercy.”

According to Cash’s website,, “A Land More Kind Than Home” is a literary thriller narrated by three characters: Jess, the younger brother of an autistic boy; Adelaide Lyle, moral conscience and midwife of the town; and Clem Barefield, the local sheriff.

Similarly, “This Dark Road To Mercy” is also narrated by three characters: Easter, a 12 -year-old girl; Brady Weller, court appointed guardian to Easter and her younger sister, Ruby; and Pruitt, a man searching for revenge against Easter and Ruby’s Father.

In his presentation, Cash was complimentary of Ron Rash, another author who spoke in the Appalachian Lecture series earlier this semester.

As a student, Cash read Rash’s work, and still considers him an inspiration to his work. He said that he was proud to be following in Rash’s footsteps to speak in the series.

Like Rash, the selections that Cash read in his presentation are works of fiction whose settings are based in very real places relatively close to this area.

Cash earned his bachelor of arts degree in literature from the University of North Carolina in Asheville and his master of arts degree in English from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

He began work on “A Land More Kind Than Home” while earning a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

His time in the deep Louisiana south inspired him to write a story based in his beloved North Carolina home.

For Cash, he said writing about his home was a way to deal with the homesickness that he felt.

“I became a Southern writer because I wanted to recreate the South that I know, and I learned to write about the South from the writers I loved,” Cash said. “I don’t know why place is so important to me. Perhaps it’s something about my wanting to feel at home. That’s why I started writing about the South in the first place — to feel at home.”

Currently, Cash is teaching in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. In the Q&A session after his presentation at MC, he shared his advice for writing students:

“You have to write what’s true to you, and read twice as much as you write. Associate with people who support you and your writing. Don’t worry about writing what other people want to read right now, write what you want to read.”

Cash’s first novel is available now at Southland Books in Maryville, as well as from iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Books-A-Million. “This Dark Road to Mercy” is available to pre-order from Harper Collins, via a link on Cash’s website.

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