Interview with Taylor Brown, Author of Fallen Land
27 Jan 2016
In Fallen Land, two teenaged orphans flee a band of Confederate marauders down out of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall of 1864 and across Georgia in the wake of Sherman’s March to the Sea, traveling on the back of a miraculous stolen horse. The story was originally inspired by an old frontier ballad, “When First Unto This Country,” and the male character, Callum, is an Irish immigrant. The female character, Ava, is slightly older than him and pregnant, and the book is a tale of love and survival and the savagery of war. I really tried to infuse a musicality into the novel, to honor the old Irish and Appalachian ballads that helped inspire it.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Well, if resurrection is involved, I’d have to go with William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Lord Byron. Byron had a club foot, and I have two, so I’ve always felt a little kinship there. Now, putting Faulkner and Byron and a couple bottles of whiskey together at the same table could be dangerous, but I can’t imagine anyone would misbehave too badly before Miss Eudora, and she was likely smarter than the two of them put together.
What’s rocking your world this month?
I’m currently reading Edward P. Jones’s All Aunt Hagar’s Children, and it’s just incredible. The man is a god. He was at writers’ week at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, here where I live, and he read with my friend Matthew Neill Null, whose novel Honey from the Lion was another recent world-rocker for me.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
Well, there are the best books I’ve ever read, and my favorite books. I’d rather go with some of my favorites, if that’s okay. In no particular order:
• Where the Wild Things Are
• The Call of the Wild
• Absalom, Absalom!
• The Dog Stars
• The Hunters
What will your next adventure be?
Believe it or not, my friend Blaine Capone (Hoof & Claw) and I are planning to ride horseback from Atlanta to Savannah in the fall of 2016, roughly following the path of Sherman’s March across Georgia. Blaine, who’s a horsemanship instructor, taught me horses when I was writing Fallen Land, and we’ve long had the idea of planning our own endurance ride. The purchase of the novel gave us the extra momentum we needed, and we’re hoping to raise funds and awareness for an equine therapy program that works with wounded warriors.
What’s your favorite quote from Fallen Land?
The season is very important to the book, and I think this little passage captures that:
“[Callum] looked through the slatted trees to the golden ridges beyond. Here and there a spurt of the brightest otherworldly red marked the hillside. The color explosive, lifting, like a hemorrhage from the earth. Callum looked hard for these sights, and they made him ache. He knew the falling land was telling him something, and the message yearned in his throat to be spoken. But he would not speak it. Could not. When Ava fell asleep on the back of the horse, he took her cool white hand in his own for a long moment. Her palm was calloused like a boy’s, her finger bones delicate. He placed her hand back in the pocket of his coat, where she kept it warm.”
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Well, I was always small for my age growing up, so I took this one to heart:
“It isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” –Bear Bryant
And this one is like an old friend:
“Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” –Calvin Coolidge
Taylor Brown is the author of the new book Fallen LandBuy The Book
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