Literary Atlanta Podcast Episode 16: Wiley Cash

Wiley Cash, author of The Last BalladI’ve been a fan of Wiley Cash since I first heard him speak at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. He was talking about his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. See, that’s what happens when you attend book events! You usually walk away wanting to read everything that author has ever written. I also loved Wiley’s follow-up book, This Dark Road to Mercy. So I was more than thrilled to get an advanced reader copy (ARC) of his latest novel, The Last Ballad, at Book Expo.

I get a little political when introducing this week’s interview with Wiley. Hopefully, he will forgive me. To be fair, he brought up the #metoo movement during our phone conversation.

The subject of Wiley’s latest novel, Ella May Wiggins, didn’t know she would become the face of a labor movement when she spent her only off day traveling to a union meeting in North Carolina. It was 1929, and Ella May was a single mother whose husband had abandoned her and their four children. She was working six days a week, 12 hours a day, at a textile mill in Bessemer City, North Carolina, and was barely able to keep her family alive. So she hopped in a stranger’s truck and traveled to another town to learn about the union. To learn more, you’ll have to read The Last Ballad.

Wiley Cash currently serves as the writer-in-residence at his alma mater of the University of North Carolina-Asheville. He also teaches in the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA program. He shares insights from his writing life, including his studying with the incredible writer Ernest J. Gaines, in this episode. Don’t miss seeing Wiley in Atlanta on December 7th.

Wiley Cash Author Website

“Ernest and Me,” Garden & Gun

“A Murdered Singer and a Strike in Gastonia: This True Story Led to ‘Last Ballad’,” Charlotte Observer

Events Mentioned in This Episode

December 7th: Writers at Wrecking Bar Event featuring Wiley Cash

December 5th: Sally Mott Freeman at Atlanta History Center

December 6th: Decatur Writers Studio Holiday Open House

Books Mentioned in This Episode

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley CashA Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash





The Last Ballad by Wiley CashThe Last Ballad by Wiley Cash





Bloodline: Five Stories by Ernest J. GainesBloodline: Five Stories by Ernest J. Gaines