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Robert Morgan interview airs Sunday on UNC-TV

Bookwatch host D.G. Martin taped an interview with Robert Morgan at the Historic Courthouse on April 9. The interview airs at noon Sunday on WUNC-TV. Bookwatch host D.G. Martin taped an interview with Robert Morgan at the Historic Courthouse on April 9. The interview airs at noon Sunday on WUNC-TV.

An interview with Robert Morgan about his novel Chasing the North Star airs at noon Sunday, July 17, and again at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 21, on North Carolina Bookwatch on UNC-TV.

Taped in April at the Historic Courthouse in Hendersonville, the interview by Bookwatch host D.G. Martin features Morgan’s description of writing the runaway slave account inspired by a story passed down through Morgan’s great-grandfather, Frank Pace (1838-1918).
“In the years just before the Civil War, in the late 1850s, runaway slaves from Georgia and South Carolina often came through the mountains of western North Carolina on their way north,” wrote Morgan, the Green River native and award-winning author of the Gap Creek trilogy, Boone and other novels and histories. “To help or hide a fugitive was a felony, punishable by fines and imprisonment. Posses of men with horses and dogs and guns followed and usually caught the runaways. Those who turned in runaways could collect rewards.”
Morgan’s homecoming on April 9 at the Historic Courthouse drew a capacity crowd to the old courtroom, where family members, childhood or school friends and readers of his books listened to his reading from Chasing the North Star.
Local readers of the novel will recognize a country store and large estates in Flat Rock. The runaway slaves, Jonah and Angel, travel by boat down Mud Creek, through the swamp in present-day Jackson Park and on to the French Broad River.
“First, I wanted to write an adventure story, a kind of ‘on the road’ narrative, evoking the landscape and culture of the mid-nineteenth century in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave of Law of 1850, in the years leading up to the Civil War,” he wrote in his “Little Willy” essay. “I also wanted to tell a story that took place, in part, in the Finger Lakes region of New York, in Ithaca, where I have lived for the past forty-four years, and where, up to now, I had never set a novel.”