Saturday, January 09, 2021

Q&A with Chris Harding Thornton

From my Q&A with Chris Harding Thornton, author of Pickard County Atlas:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title was a weird journey. The working title was Reclamation, which is one underlying theme, but there are more, and readers will find their own, so that felt too reductive. Pickard County Atlas came to me solely because maps from county atlases appear at key moments in the story. Only after the publisher didn't push for a different title did I think it actually fit. The main thing it conveys is how connected the story is to place (a fictional county in north-central Nebraska in 1978, just prior to the 1980s farm crisis). In the book, the place is described as a "cusp" where the Nebraska sandhills begin, and the three main characters are on cusps of their own. The first character we see is a sheriff's deputy named Harley Jensen, who has a tragic past he's carried with him for four decades. Then we meet Pam Reddick, who married too young, has a three-year-old, and feels suffocated by poverty. And then there's Rick, her husband, whose older brother was killed by a farm hand in 1960, leaving the Reddick family a wreck. The body was never recovered, but just prior to the book's opening, Rick's father has a headstone dedicated to his lost son, and that's all it takes for the characters to start falling from their respective cusps. So, the place, era, and characters are intertwined, and...[read on]
Visit Chris Harding Thornton's website.

Q&A with Chris Harding Thornton.

--Marshal Zeringue