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In Conversation with Patricia L. Hudson

March 7, 2024

By Jason Kyle Howard, creative nonfiction faculty


I’m a nonfiction writer to the bone. Since I began to write in childhood, my field of vision has been focused on real lives of the famous and ordinary alike, often against the backdrop of historical events. But if I were to ever try my hand at fiction, it would undoubtedly be historical fiction (or, to put a finer point on it, literary fiction rooted in history), which I devour as a reader. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and A God in Ruins, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy, Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, Thomas Mallon’s Fellow Travelers, and Sarah Waters’s The Night Watch—these are among the books I hold most dear. Give me a novel that examines a historical moment with incisive character interiority and a vivid sense of place, along with a cup of Earl Grey, and I am a happy man.


A recent historical novel I devoured is Patricia L. Hudson’s Traces, which inhabits the life of Rebecca Boone, whose own compelling story has been swept away in the current of her husband Daniel’s fame and legend. Hudson, a graduate of the MFA program at Spalding University and a seasoned journalist and editor, chronicles and imagines Rebecca Boone’s life with lyrical prose and sensitivity in a novel that is both intimate and sweeping. This is all the more remarkable because Traces is Hudson’s debut novel.


In a recent interview for Appalachian Review, I spoke with Hudson about the challenges of inhabiting the past and how she navigated the fascinating, and sometimes treacherous, waters of history.




Jason Kyle Howard is the author of A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music and coauthor of Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Salon, Oxford American, and other publications, and on NPR and C-SPAN’s Book TV. He directs the creative writing program at Berea College and serves on the faculty of Spalding University's Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing. Follow him on Twitter @JasonKyleHoward.


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