Saturday, February 14, 2009

North Carolina Author: Gary Carden Interview.........

I am very honored that Gary Carden is the first Author Interview
here at The Writers Porch!
Gary is a truly superb Storyteller/Playwright/Author from the Western North Carolina Mountains of Appalachia. He is dearly loved by many including me! A very eloquent speaker who writes with heart about the area in which he has spent his entire life. A connoisseur of Appalachian History! Please leave a comment so that your name can be placed
in a drawing where three winners will receive a copy of one of his great works!

TWP: Gary, How Did You Come To Be Raised By Your Grandparents?

GC: My father was killed before I was two years old and my mother, more or less, abandoned me on the porch of my grandparents house. According to the story I grew up hearing, she walked back down the trail to the highway and caught the bus to Knoxville where she intended to go to "business school".

TWP: I assume these grandparents were your father's parents?

GC: Yes, that was part of the problem, my mother's parents, in keeping with the modern day euphemism, were "dysfunctional". My mother along with her brothers and sisters, were brutalized. All of her brothers ran away from home.
She felt I would be better treated with my father's parents.

TWP: Was she correct?

GC: Definitely! My grandparents were Scot-Irish and had a profound sense of responsibility in terms of family. I was fed, clothed and well cared for. In terms of "Appalachian Families", my grandparents were only "moderately poor".We had a cow, and almost one hundred chickens. By the time I was in high school,
we had indoor plumbing!

TWP: In your writing about your childhood, you appear to have been part of a very warm and caring family. Is that the way you really see it?

GC: To an extent, I am making" Lemonade". In other words, I chose to emphasize the positive aspects of my family. In actual fact, my presence was resented by some of my grandparents children. I was heartily despised by an Aunt and Uncle! However, I was very fortunate to have one uncle, my Uncle Albert who became a kind of guardian to me.

TWP: There doesn't seem to be much evidence of this discontent in your works.
I would never have guessed! Why is that?

GC: I made a conscious effort to "not" emphasize the fact that I was frequently unhappy, lonely and aware that I was by some, "unwanted".
In both my writing and storytelling, I stress humor! In fact, much of the humor is a means of dealing with events that were not humorous at all. Frankly, I think it is an "Appalachian Trait": to use humor as a shield- a barrier that mountain folks put between them and an indifferent world.
Much of the humor in my stories is self-effacing, and it has much in common with the humor I often encountered in my peers.

TWP: So....You do "NOT" strive to tell the truth?

GC: I AM A STORYTELLER !! I tell falsehoods ! I do believe that fabrication can often covey a truth that is greater than " factual data". The world I describe, is not "what actually happened". Instead, it is what "could have happened" or what " should have happened". I think that kind of storytelling is actually therapeutic. It is a way of dealing with a hard reality.

TWP: Could you give me an example ?

GC: Well, in my favorite story, " Blow The Tannery Whistle", I have my grandfather attending my college graduation in 1953. In actual fact, my grandfather was in the hospital in the final stages of cancer. I chose to put him at the graduation because, if he had been able to attend, he would have been there. In spite of his extreme bewilderment of the " quare" grandson he had raised, I'd like to think he was " proud" of me. So, In my story he comes and stands in the crowd and says his favorite saying:
"Well Blow The Tannery Whistle"

If you wish to know more about Gary, here is a link: Books Reviewed by Gary


Dave King said...

An excellent interview, and many thanks for the link.

Jessica James said...

What a great interview! I've read many author interviews, but this one really reveals a lot about the author and makes me want to read more. Great job!

TheWritersPorch said...

Dave......thanks for stopping by and your welcome for the link. Good luck in the drawing!

Jessica.....thank you for the compliment! Don't forget it will be your turn in April !!Get ready !

NCmountainwoman said...

Wonderful interview of a very interesting man.

Please stuff the box with my name!!! The great interview AND the great giveaway...wonderful.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Thanks Carol. I'm looking forward to visiting Gary's website. His is a fascinating part of America and I'm sure his stories paint an interesting picture. Have a wonderful Sunday!

Kay Dennison said...

I love it!!!! What an interesting author!!!

And I'm going to definitely look for his books. I am a descendent of the Scots-Irish that settled Ohio and well aware of the work/moral ethic as I was raised by it.

And as to your question to him on truth, one of the best (and funniest books I've ever read on writing is by mystery wtiter Lawrence Block: "Telling Lies for Fun and Profit" It's an invaluable writing tool.

Thank you for introducing me to this interesting gentleman! I look forward to reading his books.

Betty Cloer Wallace said...

Gary Carden's our man in Western North Carolina--the keeper of our stories, legends, language, history, and all the cultural truths (both real and imagined) about who we are!

david mcmahon said...

What a great idea, Carol. And when will you publish your first novel?

sherryaustin said...

Gary Carden is one of a kind. If you've never seen him perform or seen one of his plays performed, please make a point to do so. And his book MASON JARS IN THE FLOOD is to read and re-read. And re-read.

Trixie said...

I gave up on the men a long time ago because most I found were worthless, but Gary Carden is the one man on this earth who can still get my old blood a- goin'.

Vicki Lane said...

Great interview, you all! I met Gary last year at the NC Writers Network conference -- such a nice man and interesting man!

His attitude toward story telling is something like that of my husband's family -- never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

GutsyWriter said...

I loved your interview and how you asked questions that dig down deep, rather than just the superficial. Thanks, and I wrote about your interview today.

Poetikat said...

Very interesting interview. I particularly like Mr. Carden's response to your question about truth. It is a fine line between truth and fiction, I find. Even in poetry - you often colour the reality a bit.

Good job, Carol!


Rob Neufeld said...

I've been saying that Gary should have a regular radio show. There seems to be no end to his wit, knowledge, and literary versatility. Your interview captured his depth. His play about the outlaw Lewis Redmond, "Prince of Dark Corners" will air on UNC-TV on April 2nd. See a clip from his telling of "Blow the Tannery Whistle."

Renie Burghardt said...

Great interview, Carol. I am so looking forward to reading his stories.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful interview! I am not familiar with Mr. Carden's work, but shall look him up. Thanks for the introduction.

Steve Brady said...

Lee Smith says "Gary Carden is a national treasure..." well there you go. 'Nuff said!

TheWritersPorch said...

NC WOMAN......Your in!But only one chance! Sorry....Good Luck !!

A Thousand Clapping Hands...He is truly a fascinating Man!

Kay......Scot Irish are hard to beat! Good luck!

Betty...You WNC people are blessed!
Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks David......SOMEDAY!

Sherry....I hear your books are really great! I just might interview game?

Vicki....I'm after an interview with you too girl!!

Gutsy.....thanks for the kind words on your post!

Thanks Kat......Good luck !

Thank you Rob for coming by the Porch and adding the link!

Thanks Renie...Good luck in the drawing !!

Thanks Pamela......if you win, you will get to be familar! Good luck!

Steve.......I TOTALLY AGREE! HE IS !

steviewren said...

Great interview. Good questions. I'll check out the link.

Shrinky said...

What a wise man, to take the good and leave the worst behind. I am about to plunge into this link of his, he sounds someone I want to know better. Is this going to be a regular slot of yours, Carol? If so, I shall be queueing up for more!

Shrinky said...

ps. Speaking as a Scot, I so understand that Scots/Irish thing!

Sandi McBride said...

Wonderful interview on a spectacular author! Thanks so much

Greg C said...

That was a very fascinating interview. I saw a lot of myself in him. I would love to read more.

TheWritersPorch said...

I am just loving this "love fest"
for Gary Carden !!

Stevie.........good luck girl! would love him to pieces! Good luck in the draw!

Sandi.......good luck !

I wish I had something for all of you so you could see how great he really is! Good luck to everyone !!

tipper said...

Gary Carden is one of my heros-his whole life speaks to me in a very meaningful way. And his desire to preserve our Appalachian Heritage-inspires me to do the same!! Great interview!

The W.O.W. factor said...

Oh my goodness! What a great interview!
His life truly intrigues me now, so I will have to find out more!
Thank you for sharing this, Carol.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

I love a storyteller !
What an interesting and intriguing interview, I will have to read further....
Scotch/Irish background eh...hmmm

Craig Glenn said...

Over from David M's.

I loved that interview and just want to know more about him... I look forward to checking out his links.

I also look forward to following your blog!


Don said...

I was fortunate enough to be a student of Gary's way back in high school and have followed his career as a writer and a storyteller. His creativity and energey never cease to amaze me. He has remained a valued friend since the late 1950's. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next for him.

Neal Davies said...

Gary taught me English, Shakespeare, Greek Mythology and Drama in high school and I still follow him indirectly. He's been a life-long influence.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I am always happy to see Gary Carden receive recognition for his work. His story telling is superb and he donated his one act play, Birdell, to raise money for our NCWN West anthology we hope to publish soon. The crowd raved about that play.
Gary is truly one of a kind and we love having him as a member of NCWN West.