Ron Rash talks about writing “Serena”

“ [I] spent more time on my characters, which is probably dangerous for my mental health,” Rash said explaining the process of writing “Serena” and the main characters.

Ron Rash is waiting for the audience members to fill in so he can begin discussing his novel, "Serena."

Ron Rash is waiting for the audience members to fill in so he can begin discussing his novel, “Serena.”
Photo credit: Tabitha Hill

It took him 14 drafts and several years to be happy how they turned out to be.  As he explained all of his novels begin with a single image that he cannot get out of his head. For this novel, there was no difference. He imagined a woman on horseback, her silhouette, with the sun coming up behind her. The sun was like a crown behind her. There was fog beneath her like Heaven and Earth.

The book’s setting takes place in the Western Carolina area. Many of his books, short stories, and poems take place in this same area. This is where generations and generations of Rash’s family has lived.

The audience, around 200 of them seated in the Coulter Recital Hall, was listening attentively. And plenty of them had their book with them waiting for Rash’s signature.

“Yes, I am so excited. I want to take a picture with him and get my book signed,” Hassan Almohammadi said. He is one of the international students on WCU and had “Serena” as a required reading in his Intensive English Program class.

The head of the English Department,Laura Wright,  introducing Rash, said that her mom loved his writings and reading his poetry, short stories, and novels.

“That just shows how he reaches across lots of different people,” Wright said.

Rash is a professor within the English department for many years, teaching always popular and full creative writing classes.

Some information about the event was that Glenda Hensley, director of First Year Experience, put “An Evening with Ron Rash” on Oct. 22.  together with the help of other faculty and staff members.

More about Rash’s book from the University News website from WCU’s page, is that “Serena” is the reading selection for 2014-2015 for WCU’s One Book program. It is designed to encourage the campus community to have an intellectual conversation about the same book. This is a new tradition that the university has started this year and will continue doing it after.

The freshman or first year students at WCU were provided a copy at their orientation before the Fall semester began. The book is also now being incorporated into freshman-transition and upper-level course in a range of disciplines.

At the end of the presentation, there was a asking questions and answering session.

Audience at an evening with Ron Rash.

Audience at an evening with Ron Rash.
Photo credit: Tabitha Hill

“Serena” was a New York Times bestseller and a PEN/ Faulkner Award Finalist.
San Francisco Chronicle said that Serena by award-winning author Ron Rash is “masterfully written…sprawling, engrossing and –from time to time—nightmarish.”

See more photos from the event