Monday, June 20, 2011

Bookish event : Michael Koryta, author

Yes, this is the same picture from the last time I saw Michael Koryta, but I swear I just saw him again. Plus, he really hasn't changed since February. Anyway, Koryta put in an appearance at Big Hat Books on Tuesday, June 7, to promote his newest novel, The Ridge. Michael and Liz (owner of Big Hat Books) once again recruited local children’s author and all-around great guy Jeff Stone to serve as the facilitator of the event. Koryta didn’t read from The Ridge but instead engaged in conversation with Stone and the audience.

The evening began as usual with introductions by Liz. She shared some good news about Koryta’s work that I’m sure you’ve heard by now. The Ridge was featured as a top summer read in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. This on the heels of news that Chris Columbus has acquired the rights to The Cypress House and will write the script and produce the film.

The majority of the evening's conversation focused on The Ridge. The new novel is set in Kentucky, but is based on a location in Indiana, the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point. Koryta talked about his visits to the Center and the wonderful work led by Joe Taft. Joe was a huge help to Koryta in writing the The Ridge.

The original spark for The Ridge, however, came from the lighthouse on the cover. He had a sudden image in his head of a lighthouse in the woods with no water around it. He couldn’t shake the idea of writing an answer to the question of why someone would build such a lighthouse. Luckily for Koryta and his readers, his editor saw the passion he had for what would become The Ridge from a few early pages about a lighthouse and cats.

Unlike his earlier works, Koryta began The Ridge with a setting and an atmosphere, but without much idea about the plot or characters. This lack of clarity led him to write 2,500 pages to get to the 353 published pages. The protagonist was originally Roy Darmus with Kevin Kimble as a D character. Through the course of his writing, Koryta found that Kimble was the real protagonist and Roy became a C character.

Koryta wanted to inject his perspective on the closing of small town newspapers thus the inclusion of Roy Darmus at all. There are small papers all around the country that have done amazing work, but that have fallen victim to large companies with an eye on profits alone and the rise of the internet. It raises the question which Koryta asks in The Ridge, “What happens when you remove the watchdog?” For more on this particular angle, check out Koryta's post on the Mulholland Books website.

One audience member asked where Koryta gets the otherworldliness element of his writing. He talked about how he has always been fascinated by the past. He considers himself a bit of a history geek and likes to think about how history ripples forward to affect the present. As a result of his interests, his work has become a blend of factual and supernatural. Koryta believes he writes from a gothic slant.

In response to other audience questions, Koryta said The Ridge and Sorrow’s Anthem, the second in his Lincoln Perry series, are the books of which he is proudest as well as his most personal. I haven't read any of Koryta's Lincoln Perry books, but based on his current work and the comments on the series from other audience members, I think I should.

After the questions wrapped up, Koryta signed books including my new, shiny hardcover copy.

Related posts:
Review : So Cold the River
Bookish event : Michael Koryta, author (Feb 2011)

Amazon Associate link:
The Ridge


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