The Sugar Maple Grove is an epic Southern Gothic about race, poverty, religion, and barbarism, and those brave enough to dare to see a different society. The author John E. Espy talks to Book Glow about the novel.
What led you to write the book?
The history of Appalachian indentured servitude, racism and violence has long needed to be explored as has the story of those who stood up against those willing to sell their souls for greed and engage in brutal oppression.
How long did it take to write the book?
I began The Sugar Maple Grove in 2011. The total time to write the book was about nine years.
Do you prefer writing in one genre over another?
I write with what my focus and interest is at the time.
What books most influenced your life?
Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Idiot, The Snow Leopard and recently Shadow Country. Books that last and will be read for many years to come, I typically find the most interesting and instructive.
Where do you write?
I write in my study, a relatively small room, surrounded by books.
What frustration do you have with the writing process?
What advice do you have for novice writers?
Read, first and foremost. Many younger and novice writers would be best served by immersing themselves in the commitment of reading the great novels. Those which have not only survived over time but have thrived. And, understanding the commitment of the authors of those great novels to write such extraordinary works. Great novels are not just great works of art but also a slice of life. Plus, as Peter Matthiessen once told me, “If you want to ensure that your novel dies a certain death, pepper your work with the names of contemporary products, big or small, where you as the writer serve as nothing more than a conduit for advertisers.”
The sequel to The Sugar Maple Grove is now a work in progress. It will be entitled, The Devil in the Dust.