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The Times questions the ‘Queen of Southern storytelling’

Author Cassandra King talks about book "Moonrise" and her inspiration

POSTED: September 26, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Not many who read books would consider a British story to be a proper launching pad for a classic, Southern story. But with her novel, “Moonrise,” author Cassandra King decided to think outside the box and draw inspiration from a gothic British novel.

Based on the classic book, “Rebecca,” King tells a story of a middle-aged woman who marries a widower. Conflict arises for the main character when her newlywed husband’s circle of friends try to push her away. The journey continues as she wonders if she will ever be accepted or loved.

A New York Times best-selling author, King has been named the “Queen of Southern storytelling.” She is the author of four other novels as well as various short stories and essays. The Alabama native lives with her husband, author Pat Conroy, in South Carolina.

Inspired by the stories of the South, King continues writing with the inspiration of her readers. She will meet some of them and sell copies of her new book at the Literary Luncheon on Friday at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville.

The Times asks King about her book and why this story is so important to her personally.

Question: This book was inspired by the 1983 novel, “Rebecca,” by Daphne Du Maurier. Why did you decide to make a modern, Southern tale based on this story?

Answer: I didn’t intend to. It wasn’t a planned thing. But I was already working on a novel about a wife (wondering about her husband’s late wife), and she’s coming into this situation and wondering if she’ll be accepted and so forth.

And I just had to re-read “Rebecca.”

So I just re-read that and realized that it was very similar to the story that I was working on.

Q: How did you create a unique story set apart from the original novel?

A: Well I had to do that because it’s not a retelling of “Rebecca.”

I guess you do have to go through her estate or publisher or something to get permission to do a retelling, for one thing, and I didn’t set out to do that because that’s British and this is Southern.

I have a lot of my usual Southern characters in this one. It has its own unique voice.

Q: You have been called the “Queen of Southern storytelling.” Why do you think that title came about? Do you agree with it at all?

A: That was something a reviewer one time said in a newspaper, and unfortunately someone picked up on that.

I think it’s a play on my name. Something like “King” to “Queen,” or something like that. It’s kind of like my husband, who wrote “The Prince of Tides,” called the “Prince of Storytelling.” I would never call myself that.

I like it as far as the storytelling part, because I think telling a story is what it’s about. I have degrees in English, so some wonderful literature that I had to teach and study and so forth is great writing, conflict and theme.

But stories (are better). I like what I read to have a story.

Q: What made you so interested in becoming an author?

A: I just always loved reading. I was one of these kids that always had my nose stuck in a book. Then I would try out my own hand at writing these stories, even when I was a kid.

Q: Are you inspired to keep writing because of your readers’ response? What do you hope they will take away after reading the book?

A: That does help so much. I didn’t realize how much it helped until the first time I got a positive response from readers.

I think it’s very important for writers to hear this from their readers, that they like to hear this story and to keep writing. Let us know!

What I wanted to do with this story is explore the growth of a mid-age woman. (I wanted my readers to see that) we never stop growing, no matter what age we are. She had a total change of her life in this book.

So I wanted to do some exploring of how she grows in this situation. She has to go through a lot to do it, though. It’s not an easy process.


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