An Evening With Author Charles Martin

Meeting an author in person is amazing. Meeting a New York Times best selling author who wrote a book set in your town is something else! Charles Martin visited Buena Vista, Colorado on June 29th to discuss his book Long Way Gone (2016). The book was this summer’s Community Reads selection here in town, likely because of its BV connection.

A quick summary of the book:

“No matter where you go, no matter whether you succeed or fail, stand or fall, no gone is too far gone. You can always come home.”

Musician and songwriter Cooper “Peg” O’Connor left Buena Vista, CO at eighteen with all his father held dear to chase a dream in Nashville. Five years after he’s lost everything, he falls in love with Daley Cross, a young singer with an amazing voice who needs a song. When tragedy threatens his life and his career, he returns home in search of answers about his tent-revival preacher father and his faith. When Daley shows up in town 20 years later, is he ready to face his past for the chance of a future? In this radical retelling of the prodigal son story, it examines the relationship between a broken man and the father who never stopped watching for his son.

The room was packed by locals waiting for a chance to meet Charles. He spent the first hour of the evening meeting with people, signing books, and taking pictures.

He began his talk reading a portion of his book that explained its connection to the prodigal son story Charles also told us about a woman that he met that asked him “how gone is too far gone?” Those two things caused Cooper’s story to blossom. He wanted to show people through this book that, in the same way he signed our copies, “no gone is too far gone.” He shared his faith with us, as well as his writing process. He follows the advice of a writer (who sounds an awful lot like Stephen King!) who told him to treat writing like a regular job. He writes most days between early morning and mid-afternoon.

Charles also shared plans for the book to be made into a MOVIE! It’s not the first of his books to be made into a movie, but he said he feels really good about the process for this adaptation. He introduced us to the filmmaker in charge of the project, who told us how excited he was to be adapting the book that showed such faith. The filmmaker and his wife were in town with Charles, his wife, and their sons looking at locations where parts of the book happened.

The Q and A portion was really juicy. We learned more about his writing process, his connection to BV (his family vacations here from Jacksonville, Florida), and some of the sites in the book (the falls are fictional!). He wouldn’t reveal the significance of the name Daley Cross, leaving that up to our interpretation, though he said that “it’s in there” (sending us all back into the book, I’m sure–I’m still looking).

One thing that was particularly interesting was the fact that he’s not a musician himself. He gained a lot of his technical knowledge for the book from his son (who does play guitar, and quite well from what we heard!). He also said he tried to focus on describing the effect music has on people, which he has more experience with.

It was an awesome night, with some great insight into a best selling author and his process. Thanks to Buena Vista Public Library for sponsoring the event and for providing the community (including me!) with a free copy of the book. Highly recommend Long Way Gone and Charles Martin as an author!

To learn more about Charles Martin and his work, visit his website here.

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