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Posts Tagged ‘Pulitzer Prize’

Allen Mendenhall Interviews Ace Atkins

In Artist, Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, Creative Writing, Fiction, Humanities, News and Current Events, Novels, Southern Literary Review, Writing on December 12, 2011 at 8:46 am

Ace Atkins is the author of nine novels, most recently The Ranger and Infamous.  A former journalist at The Tampa Tribune, Atkins has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his investigation into a 1950s murder.  He lives on a farm outside Oxford, Mississippi.

The following interview first appeared here at Southern Literary Review.

AM: What I suspect everyone wants to know is, how do you stay so prolific?  How do you write so much, so quickly?

AA: I’m very fortunate to be a full-time novelist. I’ve been writing full time since 2001 and that gives me the freedom to concentrate completely on my stories. Many terrific writers I know have to carve out time from from their jobs to work on a book. I am able to go to my office every day and work on that new novel. I feel pretty damn lucky and that in turn means I get to work on more projects.

AM: You seem to have located The Ranger in regions of the South that you know well.  Would you call this book “Southern literature”? 

AA: Absolutely. I don’t get into working in a certain genre—that’s up to readers and critics—and can hurt the writer and reader. My new series of novels could not be set anywhere else but the South and certainly centers on many Southern themes. I gain a lot of inspiration from the gritty world of Faulkner’s crime stories and turn my attention to the descendants of those people. 

AM:    I noticed that country music and country musicians appear throughout The Ranger.  Can you tell us about the significance of this to the novel?

AA: My first four novels were stylistically and thematically about blues. I always wanted to work on a novel that felt like an old Johnny Cash ballad—a solider returning home to town, unrequited love, guns and violence. I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash and also tons of Outlaw Country—Waylon, Merle, etc.—when coming up with the background of Quinn Colson.

AM: Who is Colonel George Reynolds?  I noticed his name in the Acknowledgments. 

George is the guy who saved my ass. I had contracted to write a novel about a U.S. Army soldier without knowing enough about the modern war in Afghanistan. Colonel Reynolds contacted me from Camp Phoenix in Afghanistan about signing a copy of my novel, Devil’s Garden. He offered help if I ever needed. It turned out, I needed help immediately. He offered terrific insight direct from the battle front and introduced me to the real Ranger who provided the background for Quinn Colson. 

I could not have written the book without him and he still provides me with a ton of answers to picky questions. Read the rest of this entry »

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