Meet the Author: Casey ClaboughPosted by on April 7, 2016
Our newest author Casey Clabough is a farmer and professor at Lynchburg College. He was raised primarily on a farm in Appomattox County, Virginia, and attributes his culture to the Appalachian roots of his family, who lived in the Smoky Mountains for more than two hundred years and were one of the founding families of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It’s these roots that inspired his latest book The End of the Mountains, which traces the hardscrabble life of his ancestor Columbus Clabough. Columbus was the last of his family to live by the old Smoky Mountain ways—ways unsuited to a modern world.
Casey Clabough’s other books include three works of creative nonfiction, a novel, a collection of women’s Civil War writing, a biography of southern writer George Garrett, six scholarly books on southern and Appalachian writers, and Penguin’s latest Idiot’s Guide: Creative Writing. Clabough serves as editor of The James Dickey Review, the literature section of the Encyclopedia Virginia and series editor of the multi-volume Best Creative Nonfiction of the South.
Here’s a little more about him:
Dog or cat?
I’ve had many of both. I don’t have cats now since they’re so adept at wiping out the songbird populations.
What’s your favorite endangered species?
The albino sperm whale.
Without giving away all of your secrets, tell us a little about your writing process. Do you have a place where you go to write? Is there a time when you write best?
I’ve had some severe medical experiences lately that have forced me to try to relearn how to read and write. In the past I’ve always written in the morning; place doesn’t seem to matter.
What compelled you to write The End of the Mountains?
I wanted to record and bring together some aspects of the Smoky Mountains in a way no one seems to have done yet.
The End of the Mountains tells of the last time the great Chestnut tree was abundantly present in Appalachia. How has this tree influenced your writing?
It’s been a powerful force in the stories I heard growing up. Often things are made more powerful when they are no longer with us. I remember as late as the 1990s, my uncle still had some Chestnut rails on his place. On one occasion he handed me an axe and said he’d give $20 if I could break a rail. I must have hit it thirty or forty times with everything I had and it wouldn’t break. My uncle just laughed at me the whole time. I happen to think the people who lived in the mountains in the early 1900s were not unlike the Chestnut.
What are your thoughts about the recent effort to revive the great Chestnut tree and the challenges of doing so?
It’s not going to be easy, but I look forward to being a part of it.