Texas Writers Month Author Interview Series: John Pipkin

author interview

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.

author interview

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?
A. www.johnpipkin.com

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  1. Nan A Talese/Doubleday
    I subscribe via feed burner.

  2. I’ve read Woodsburner THREE times, and will most likely read it again. Incredible story, insightful writing. John, I’m waiting patiently for your next book!

  3. Publisher of the paperback was listed as Knopf Doubleday. This book looks interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. How Thoreau came to be the man who wrote Walden sounds like a fascinating topic for a novel. I look forward to reading this book. By the way, Anchor published Woodsburner in paperback.

  5. Woodsburner sounds like something I want to read (listened to the audio clip), but you know me, John, always on the go, so I will probably buy the audio book first and listen on the road. THEN, I will more than likely donate the audio book to the Buda library and get the print version to come looking for an autograph. As always, a plan.

  6. I heard John talk about Woodsburner in Tyler last year and thought the book sounded fascinating. I am glad Anchor Publishing did such a great job on his paperback this year! Throwing my hat in the ring for the drawing!

  7. Yes, please sign me up for John Pipkin’s Wood Burner. Any book endorsed by Doris Kearns Goodwin has got to be good. She’s my heroine.

  8. this book intrigues me…thanks for the opportunity to read it. ANCHOR was the paperback publisher, 2010. i’m a follower, too.

  9. Thoreau setting fire to the Concord Woods? I’ve got to read that – thanks for introducing us to this author and title, Stephanie, and thanks to Anchor books for publishing it in paperback

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