Dr. Wiley Cash, who earned his PhD in English from UL Lafayette in 2008, has released his third novel after his first two novels drew the attention of Southern fiction lovers and critics.
Dr. Cash has released The Last Ballad, his eagerly-awaited new novel that’s set in the 1929 North Carolina’s Appalachian foothills. The plot is inspired by actual events and chronicles a woman’s fight for rights and respect in a textile mill.
About the book, HarperCollins writes: "Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America—and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash’s place among our nation’s finest writers."
The Last Ballad follows his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, which was named a New York Times Notable Book (among other accolades), and he became a New York Times Bestselling Author. His second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, was a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel. All three novels are published by HarperCollins.
Dr. Cash began writing A Land More Kind Than Home while he was a creative writing doctoral student in the Department of English.
He said the primary reason he enrolled in the English PhD program was to study under writer-in-residence and acclaimed Southern writer Ernest J. Gaines, who is best known for novels such as the Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying.
“I learned how to be a writer there and I learned what it means to be a working writer there and I learned what I would write about there, so I think Lafayette’s where everything kind of began for me,” he said in an interview with UL Lafayette in 2013.
“Before I left North Carolina, I didn’t have any idea of what kind of writer I was or what kind writer I wanted to be, and then I got to know Ernest J. Gaines, and I learned his own story of leaving home and becoming a writer,” he said in an interview with the Fiction Writers Review.
Dr. Cash has offered some advice for graduate students struggling to find time to write in their busy schedules.
“I was in graduate school when I began writing the novel (A Land More Kind Than Home), and, like most graduate students, I was teaching two classes and taking three. Making the necessary time to write became a challenge, but I solved it by getting up incredibly early in the morning, sometimes as early as 5 a.m.,” he said. “I liked the feeling that the world was quiet and I was the only person awake at that time; I knew something about the day that no one yet knew. Of course this wasn’t true, but it helped to cut out the noise of life if I thought I was the only one awake in those hours.”