First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary presented by AJC
DBF Founding Executive Director Daren Wang talks about his stirring debut novel with his friend, award-winning author Charles Frazier. Wang's The Hidden Light of Northern Fires tells the a story of redemption amidst a war that tore families and a country apart. Rooted in history of the only secessionist town north of the Mason Dixon Line, the novel follows Mary Willis, who has always been an outcast, an abolitionist in a town of bounty hunters and anti-Union farmers. After college, she dreams of exploring the country, but is obligated to take over the household duties and management of her family's farm, while her brother Leander avoids his own responsibilities. Helping runaways is the only thing that makes her life in Town Line bearable. When escaped slave Joe Bell collapses in her father's barn, Mary is determined to help him cross to freedom in nearby Canada. But the wounded fugitive is haunted by his vengeful owner, who relentlessly hunts him up and down the country, and his sister, still trapped as a slave in the South. As the countryside is riled by the drumbeat of civil war, rebels and soldiers from both sides bring intrigue and violence of the brutal war to the town and the farm, and threaten to destroy all that Mary loves.
Charles Frazier grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. He is the author of Cold Mountain, the National Book Award Winner for Fiction, Thirteen Moons and Nightwoods.
Daren Wang is the Executive Director of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the country. Before launching the festival, he had a 20 year career in public radio, both national and local, with a particular focus on books and authors. Wang has written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Paste magazine and Five Points magazine, among others. The Hidden Light of Northern Fires is his first novel.
Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). She is the author of four collections of poetry, Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize—and, most recently, Thrall, (2012). Her book of non-fiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, appeared in 2010. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. At Emory University she is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing.