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A Novel Approach

Silas House

“I just like the canvas of a novel. I like being able to just go anywhere that the character takes me. In a short story, you have to be so contained and rein things in. In a novel you can let the character completely take over,” says Silas House. Three Kentucky authors whose diverse works have gained national attention in the early 2000s—House, Sheila Williams, and Kirby Gann—offer perspectives and insights into writing novels in the one-hour Kentucky Muse documentary “A Novel Approach.”

Sheila Williams

The documentary takes you into each writer’s realm. For House, that’s Eastern Kentucky, the setting for his novels Clay’s Quilt (2001), A Parchment of Leaves (2002), and The Coal Tattoo (2004). House is interviewed at his home in Lily and reads from his works.

Kentucky Muse visits Sheila Williams in Newport, in Northern Kentucky, now home to this Ohio-born author of Dancing on the Edge of the Roof (2002), The Shade of My Own Tree (2003), On the Right Side of a Dream (2005), and Girls Most Likely (2006). Williams and her husband walk through the historic neighborhood, and she visits a local café, where she meets with fellow writers Jack Kerley and Ron Ellis.

Kirby Gann

“A Novel Approach” travels to Louisville to spend time with Kirby Gann, author of The Barbarian Parade: Or, Pursuit of the Un-American Dream (2003) and Our Napoleon in Rags (2005). Gann is shown at Sarabande Books, the nonprofit literary press where he is managing editor, and drives past a local restaurant where he once worked as a bartender.

All three authors discuss autobiographical and other influences on their work, explain how they approach the writing process, and read selections from their novels. They also explain what appeals to them about the form of the novel.

How do real writers live and work? Find out in triplicate in this fascinating and personal literary tour while getting acquainted with three Kentuckians whose voices are helping to shape the contemporary novel.