Daren Wang's Remarkable Hometown

Oct 5, 2017

Daren Wang has made a career out of his love for literature. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival was his idea, and after 12 years as its executive director, he resigned this fall. Before that, he worked on public radio shows that celebrated literary luminaries. This August, Wang stepped into a new role: author. 

He's previously written for the AJC and Paste Magazine among others, but "The Hidden Light of Northern Fires" is his first novel.  

On this edition of "Two Way Street," Wang tells us about his decade-long process of writing a historical fiction about his hometown Town Line, New York. He grew up in the only town north of the Mason-Dixon Line to secede from the Union. But he was unaware that his childhood home had a special history of its own. Former inhabitant, Mary Willis, used to help fugitive slaves escape to the nearby Canadian border. 

Wang tells us about all the things he uncovered in his research, including the connections that his family's land had to the Amana Colonies and Abraham Lincoln. 

Plug, we talk about how Wang was the last person to ever interview James Dickey. He tells us about the time they spent together and what he brought Dickey instead of alcohol after learning that the poet was sober.