Charles Frazier

Charles Frazier2016 Appalachian Heritage Writer in Residence

Charles Frazier, award-winning author, was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1950. Frazier received his BA degree from the University of NC, Chapel Hill, in 1973, and went on to study at Appalachian State University, where he met his future wife Katherine, whom he married in 1976. His first published book was a travel guide for the Sierra Club called Adventuring in the Andes, published in the year after his daughter Annie was born (1985). The following year he completed his Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, in American literature. After a teaching stint at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he returned to North Carolina, where both he and Katherine taught at North Carolina State University. It was Katherine who convinced Frazier to devote all his time to writing, and the tale he wanted to write was based on the family story of his great-great uncle William P. Inman, a wounded confederate soldier who journeyed home, back to Cold Mountain and his family during the war. Frazier’s friend and fellow author Kaye Gibbons sent the unfinished manuscript off to her agent, and Cold Mountain was finally published in 1997. The book won numerous awards, including the National Book Award for Fiction (1997), topping the New York Times Best Seller list for over a year, and the Sue Kauffman Prize for First Ficiton. In 2003, the film based on the book was released to critical acclaim, winning seven Academy Award nominations and an Oscar for Renee Zellweger as Best Supporting Actress. Random House picked up the option on Frazier’s second book, Thirteen Moons, an historical novel that tells a complex story associated with the Cherokee Removal and its aftermath, the Native Americans who remained in Appalachia, and their struggle against a newly-minted and highly racist American government. This NY Times Best Seller and award-winning book is a bildungsroman or coming of age story. Frazier grew up near the Cherokee community of Snowbird, North Carolina, which still had a Cherokee speaking population. He told the story from the point of view of "a fictionalized [version of] William Holland Thomas (Will Cooper in the novel), a white boy who was adopted by the Cherokee chief, Bear." The novel brings together both this dramatic part of Cherokee and American history and the Civil War and its aftermath. The book was later translated into Cherokee, and Frazier worked with Cherokee elders and scholars to bring authenticity to that project. In 2008, Frazier won the North Carolina Award for Literature. In 2011 the literary thriller Nightwoods, set in the 1960s and also an award-winning New York Times bestseller, was published. Today, Frazier and his wife split their time between their horse farm in central Florida and Asheville, North Carolina. Frazier is currently finishing his fourth novel which is inspired by the life of Varina Howell Davis, the second wife of Jefferson Davis. Charles Frazier will be the eighteenth recipient of the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award.