Randall Kenan visits Appalachian as part of Visiting Writers Series


The Appalachian Online

Jackie Park, Reporter

North Carolina honorary native, author and professor of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill Randall Kenan visited Appalachian on Thursday.

Kenan gave a craft workshop and read from one of his upcoming works to a crowd of about 30 people. Kenan primarily writes works of fiction and nonfiction based in North Carolina.

“I want to cover material that I don’t think a lot of people have covered or written about,” Kenan said. “I was motivated to write about North Carolina because I think a certain extent of experiences in North Carolina haven’t been examined the way they deserve to be. Everybody is writing about LA and New York, but there are other slices of life.”

Kenan said that the primary motivator in beginning his writing career was reading and suggested that devoted reading is essential for inspiring those just starting to write.

“I was an avid reader as a kid and I admired what the stories did and I was always making up stories in my head, so it just came natural that I would start writing,” Kenan said.

Kenan believes that North Carolina gives a very unique perspective and that it is the framework to some of his most important stories.

“Almost everything I write springs from or is from the lense of [North Carolina]. The landscape still fascinates me and haunts me. Probably the most important stories I ever have told or ever will tell come out of the North Carolina experience,” Kenan said.

At this reading, Kenan read from an unpublished work. Kenan said that he often uses opportunities like this one to “see where a story is working or where it is not working.”

Kenan described his upcoming work, “Resurrection Hardware,” as the story of an editor who moved to North Carolina from New York, bought a 200-year-old house and was visited by ghosts from the antebellum era, which led him to understand the house’s history and part of his own.

In addition to reading some of his own work, Kenan also led a craft workshop earlier in the day about the gothic and his personal experience with it.

“I can’t help but see the world through a gothic lens. Sometimes I think I was born this way. Or perhaps it was simply the way I was brought up, in a landscape full of secrets and mystery,” Kenan said.

Kenan’s visit was part of the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series, which is hosted annually by the Department of English here at Appalachian.


Story by; Jackie Park, News Reporter