Novelist Jess Walter has never left his hometown—the Spokane Valley in eastern Washington—where his grandfather (also Jess Walter) landed in the 1930s as a train-hopping, itinerant worker. Inspired by the places around him, an old 1911 postcard, generational stories passed down, and the sense of history repeating, Walter has spun a sweeping saga whose themes of class, wealth, corruption, and public protests—all set more than a century ago—still ring true today.
Walter joins Marrie Stone to discuss The Cold Millions. He talks about how disparate ideas cling together like falling snowflakes and, by the time they land, create multidimensional stories. He talks about the moment when research becomes so ingrained that he’s able to make the leap into fiction without remembering what’s real and what’s invented. He talks about the shape of stories, how this novel looks like a river in his mind, with moments of rapid movement and other quiet periods of stillness. For historical fiction readers, Walter fans, and writers interested in craft, there’s something for everyone in Walter’s conversation.
(Broadcast date: October 21, 2020)
(Record date: September 8, 2020)