Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash

A stunning debut reminiscent of the beloved novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to—an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters—Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past—A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.

About the Author
Wiley Cash is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME. A native of North Carolina, he has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has held residency positions at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Author Website: www.wileycash.com


  1. Fireside Readers11 May 2014 at 14:55

    A Skype conference with Wiley Cash – magic! Wiley was so thoughtful, interesting and funny that I forgot to take notes! Here’s what I can reconstruct from my faulty memory.
    Inspiration and Research
    The idea for the novel came from a 2004 news story – a young autistic boy had been killed in a church healing service. Although the northern reader might think that the extreme Pentecostal churches involving snake and fire handling, drinking poison and hands on healing are from the distant past, such churches, like The River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following, still exist today in small towns in the south.
    Two years ago, a pastor in Milwaukee died from snakebite. He had been bitten before and lived (the spirit was with him) so he refused to go to the hospital. Wiley said it was very common for people from these churches to be bitten – not all die, however sometimes damage (like their fingers turning black and falling off) happens. Therefore, when Miss Molly Jameson was bitten on the face and died, the congregation was quite calm; the deacons did what they had to do to protect the reputation of the church.
    The biblical reference, Mark 16: 17-18, in front of the church is as follows:
    And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16: 17-18 King James Version

  2. Fireside Readers11 May 2014 at 14:56

    Wiley liked the idea of using more than one narrator and, in the process of writing this, his first novel, gave several characters the opportunity to tell their stories. Some turned out to be better narrators than others (Ben was simply too silent.) and James Hall tried to run away with the entire story! In the end the three narrators he chose brought very different perspectives to the tale and each shared a secret with the reader which the others didn’t know.
    In both this novel and new release, this dark road to mercy, one of the narrators is a child. Wiley chose the children as narrators because they don’t censor what they say. Adult narrators cannot be trusted; they omit, filter and distort while the child tells exactly what he thinks.
    The characters are, in part, based on people that he has known and seen. For example, Chambliss is based on any number of charismatic preachers and televangelists that we have seen over the years – Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, etc. We protested that Chambliss was a convicted meth cooker – how could he possibly lead a church? Wiley said that the larger the sinner, the greater rejoicing at his redemption.
    Our members found Julie in particular frustrating. How could she be so blind to what Chambliss was? Why did she take Stump to church the second time? How could she walk away from Jess after all that had happened? Julie was raised in a very religious household and Stump’s problems affected her deeply. She was desperate to believe that Stump could be healed and that Chambliss was the man to do it. In the Pentecostal churches which practice speaking in tongues and divine healing there are very high levels of emotion in the services and Julie, with no love at home sought out what she needed from the church and from Chambliss.
    Wiley writes every morning. He and his wife have just moved to Wilmington NC and his study is not yet set up, so he writes in the public library! He believes that any writing is better than none to start, so he does not censor or criticize; he just writes. A Land More Kind than Home was written and revised over a five-year period while he was teaching. Now he writes full time.