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:
http://www.tannerywhistle.net/ Gary's website
http://hollernotes.blogspot.com/ Books Reviewed by Gary