[Audio] J.D. Wilkes on His New Book, 'The Vine That Ate The South'
On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with J.D. Wilkes about his new book, 'The Vine That Ate The South.'
Wilkes says he began writing the book 5 years ago while on tour in Norway with the Legendary Shack Shakers. The landscape reminded him of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings and other fairy tales and wile riding in a van through a very long, dark tunnel, Wilkes began writing folklore of the South.
“I literally cracked the laptop open for a light source just to keep from going crazy from the darkness, but I just started typing away at this little idea I had for this western Kentucky story about folklore,” Wilkes said.
The book can be read as both a love letter to the South and an attempt to mythologize the region. Having been born in Texas and lived in Louisiana and Kentucky, Wilkes finds a commonality and flavor to southern life. “You could call it a gumbo of stories to tell,” Wilkes said. “I just loved it so much and I always thought it was an overlooked art form in a way. You know, it’s always in the local interest section that’s all covered in cobwebs. But what if you were to put some drive into it and get it to be more exciting for all kinds of readers.”
The narrator of the book is what Wilkes calls a “nightmare version” of himself. The stories he tells are based on Wilkes’s own experience but taken to an inaccurate extreme. The book is dark but balanced with humor. Wilkes wanted it to be like a fairy tale for adults.