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An Ode to Home: An Interview with Jo Ann Kiser, author of The Guitar Player and Other Songs of Exile

Kiser

I am a native of Pike County, Kentucky—back in the hills, as we say. We didn’t have electricity until I was about six, but we had a swimming hole! Later we left and, of economic necessity, explored the world a bit. Eventually I landed up in New York and then Chicago, and I always meant to write something entitled “A Savage in Wonderland” but never got around to it.

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Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I studied the French novel for a while. Julien Sorel and others left the hinterlands for Paris, or, like Proust’s Marcel, spent glorious summers in the hinterlands, or, like Colette, visited her mother in the hinterlands, where, after all, she belonged.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Jo in Little Women was my original inspiration. After that, there have been many, including the great Alice Munro.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have been a manuscript editor and a college instructor. I love mysteries.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night! – Stephen Foster

Gymnopédie No. 1 – Erik Satie

Yesterday – Charles Aznavour

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

That home ultimately resides in the narrative of our lives. That women are complex and valuable people. That east Kentucky is complex and beautiful.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am now working on a novel based on the Kentucky women of my mother’s generation.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Atmosphere was a coconspirator in publishing my first book, The Guitar Player and Other Songs of Exile. Editorial, design, marketing: everybody knew their job and did it.


You can buy the book here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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