It’s hard to describe what it means, to me, to be an Appalachian.  It involves a lot of romantic ideas about our mountains—the Smokies, the Blue Ridge—that I’ve accumulated by hiking a few of them and reading books about the rest.  Typical.  It’s easy to idealize the beauty of our forests, rhododendron and laurel wildernesses, this ancient range, our fall foliage, our grassy balds…I could go on.  I know these places are dangerous, too, and a few have some pretty sordid histories, but—I’ve been cooped up in Knoxville long enough that I can physically ache, looking at a topographical map of the Roan Highlands, of Mt. Mitchell.

Roan Knob

Mt. Mitchell peak

Cold Mountain—I could talk to you forever about why this novel is some part of me.  The whole thing makes me ache some more.  I have got to get out there.