Interview with Wesley Browne
photo by Chris Radcliffe Photography
Our fiction editor recently talked with Wesley Browne about his new novel, Hillbilly Hustle, (West Virginia University Press, 2020). Kirkus Reviews called Hillbilly Hustle "a top-notch debut with a winning narrative voice and unexpectedly multidimensional characters,” and it has gained fans from writers such as George Singleton, Frank Bill, Hannah Pittard, and many others. This interview is an edited version of their public conversation at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky in late February, 2020, to celebrate the book’s release.
Wesley Browne is the founder and host of Pages & Pints Reading Series at Apollo Pizza in Richmond, Kentucky. He lives with his wife and two sons in Madison County, where he practices law, co-owns and helps manage local restaurants and a music venue, and coaches sports. Hillbilly Hustle is his debut novel.
House: You’re dealing with scenarios and characters that could so easily fall into stereotype, but you keep that from happening. The book is really honest about the region but also isn’t presenting tropes. Just when the reader thinks their assumptions are right, you pull the rug out from under them. I like the way you explore the complexities in the book. Can you talk about the way you addressed stereotypes and took them head-on?
House: Can you talk about what you gained from the Appalachian Writers Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School?
House: When people think about Appalachian Literature, they think about the far past, and I really love novels that show Appalachian people living in the modern world. Do you feel that a lot of Appalachian Literature tends to look backward?
House: I love your taste in music and the way you think about music. I’m wondering if there were specific musicians who you were listening to a lot when you were writing this, or ones that influenced the book.
House: Unfortunately, the pandemic really did a number on your touring for the book, but you still must have talked to lots of people who have now read the novel. What has been your favorite feedback?
Visit the Hillbilly Hustle Facebook Video page to watch Wesread chapters from the novel.