Larry Baker is the author of From a Distance, The Flamingo Rising, The Education of Nancy Adams, Love and Other Delusions, A Good Man, and his latest, most wonderful novel WYMAN AND THE FLORIDA KNIGHTS. He's also become a treasured friend and I am delighted to host him here! Thank you, Larry!
For WYMAN, I wanted to do something I have never done, attempt historical fiction. Not focusing on an individual, but a family over centuries. Having become a grandfather, myself, I am more aware of my own past, and I see my future in my grandsons, my family story continuing with them. I am optimistic about their future, but as I was writing WYMAN, I began to see how a family often has to overcome its past, its origins. In literary terms, the Faulknerian sins of the fathers. I'm a lapsed Baptist, a current Catholic agnostic, but I have never shed my Christian sense of guilt. Go back to Cain and bel, and toss in an artist's Faustian Bargain, and you'll understand what was haunting me.
Sadly, I write less and less nowadays. That began when I finished the first draft of WYMAN a year ago. Old age, some family health problems, life itself has changed how I write. If the Pandemic had occurred a few years ago, with the enforced isolation, I suspect that I would have written one or two more novels. I no longer have the five hours a day of uninterrupted isolation that made me productive in the past.
WYMAN and the Florida Knights is actually dealing with really contemporary issues. Can you talk about that please?
Other recurring themes? A quest for faith. And the universal theme of fiction--identity. How well does a writer know his characters, how well do they know themselves? With WYMAN, I made ample use of a trope I first explored in A GOOD MAN, how a character hides themselves in a name. I named a character Harry after a boy named Harry in a Flannery O'Connor story and after a radio DJ in a Harry Chapin song. Their stories, written by other writers, became the background for my own Harry.
Me, I have always hated my own name, Larry Baker. I look into a mirror, I do not see a Larry Baker.
What's obsessing you now and why?
As I looked at ATHENS again, I imagined a new character, arriving. Adding him let me create a backstory for him. I'm going to self-publish my revised novel in 2022. New title? THREE MEN AND A DEER.
What question didn't I ask that I should have?