Celebrating Texas Writers Month with us today is Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Winner John Pipkin (Austin).
Comment with the name of the publisher of the paperback by May 28 to win a signed hardcover of Woodsburner, John’s historical novel about a young Thoreau setting fire to 300 acres of Concord woods. The book won both the 2010 Fiction Award from the Massachusetts Center for the Book and the First Novel Award from the Texas Institute of Letters.
John Pipkin attended Washington & Lee University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received his Ph.D. in British Literature from Rice University in 1997. He left his position as Executive Director of the Writers’ League of Texas to write. He has also taught writing and literature at Saint Louis University, Boston University, Southwestern University, and the University of Texas. Woodsburner is his first novel. Listen to an excerpt at Audible.
Q. Are you a native Texan or did you get here as soon as you could?
A. I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, and then moved to Texas three times. First, in 1991, I moved to Houston to attend graduate school in English at Rice University. I moved back to Texas in 1995 after teaching for a year at Saint Louis University in Missouri After that I moved to Massachusetts to teach at Boston University in 1997, but then I returned to Texas in 2000 when my wife accepted a teaching position at Southwestern University in Georgetown and we settled here in Austin. (The third time seems to have stuck.)
Q. How did you end up writing historical fiction?
A. I write historical fiction because I’m interested in the disparate connections of seemingly random events that have nonetheless brought us to where we are today. The human character remains essentially unchanged; desires, ambitions, fears, frustrations–all these things are the same for people throughout time, but they are experienced and expressed very differently based on historical context, and I want to explore what connects us to the past. It all comes down to character in the end.
Q. What book marketing activities made you a bestselling author?
A. Book reviews, generous support from independent booksellers around the country, interviews on radio, internet, and in print media, and simple word-of-mouth have all played big roles.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming release.
A. The novel I am working on right now is set in Ireland in 1798. It’s called The Blind Astronomer’s Atlas. I can’t say much more than that.
Q. Where can we pay you a virtual visit?