Friday, May 10, 2024

Q&A with Don Silver



Don Silver is the author of the new novel Scorched. His other books include the novel Backward-Facing Man. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.


Q: What inspired you to write Scorched, and how did you create your character Jonas?


A: Jonas, the protagonist, just showed up one morning while I was noodling. I’d been writing some essays for a project my daughter asked me to do and I suppose I was thinking of the early 1970s, which is when I came of age. I thought of a friend whose father died suddenly after they’d argued, and the mixture of relief, guilt, and sadness that followed.


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: Though I’m not a planner when it comes to fiction or poetry, I started Scorched with a premise that came from an old friend. He’d actually been giving me ideas since we were in seventh grade — and I’d pretty much stopped paying attention — but this one seemed promising. 


Once I got going and created characters, a backstory, and found my narrative voice, I veered off in another direction. I love surprises when I’m writing and I’m an inveterate reviser even when it involves taking a dramatic turn and tossing weeks or months of work. I try to remember if a book isn’t exciting to write, it isn’t likely to be exciting to read.  


Q: How was the novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: “Scorched” is a metaphor (there’s no arson in the book) for what seems to happen internally for Jonas and in a few of his relationships. 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I guess Scorched is a bit of a historical novel, so you get a sense of life in the 1970s. The protagonist and his family grapple with mental illness so there are some insights to be had there. I hope readers experience the book as an exciting, fast read that leaves you with something to think about for a few days. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: It takes me six or seven years to write a novel, so I’m pretty careful about jumping into something without a creative rest and recharge.


This past year or so I’ve been learning jazz saxophone. I like playing music because it’s spontaneous like writing, but you make a sound that connects to a feeling and then it disappears rather than having to be revised and polished. 


I have a sense that my next novel might be set where I live in western North Carolina. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I can be reached at


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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