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Charles Frazier's new novel comes down off the mountain to traverse 1930s America

When he was 40, an English professor from the North Carolina mountains decided he would try to write a novel.

 Photo by Mallory Cash
Photo by Mallory Cash

That professor was Charles Frazier, and that novel was “Cold Mountain,” which came out in 1997 and spent more than a year at the top of the bestseller list.

It was later made into a hit movie starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Renee Zellweger, who won an Oscar for her role.

Frazier has spent the years since continuing to explore the hidden corners of American history in his novels. His fifth and latest book, called “The Trackers,” is set during the Great Depression.

It’s the story of a Virginia artist hired to paint a mural at a post office in small-town Wyoming. He finds a place to stay with a wealthy rancher and the rancher’s much younger wife.

Complications ensue.

I talked with Frazier about how to get history right in a piece of fiction, and what spurred him to become a writer after a long career as a teacher.

We also talk about his current lodging … which may or may not be a haunted house.

Other music in this episode

  • Cory Gray, "Follow the Trail"
  • Jason Shaw, "Words"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.