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Meet Robert Hicks

October 2, 2009

Robert Hicks & Kathy

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Robert Hicks, the author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country, when I attended the SIBA Trade Show.  Robert has been called the most respected Civil War novelist in the US, and he is that and so much more.   He is a real Southern gentleman with a passion for life.  He is passionate about music, his collections, the South, preservation, and the battle of Franklin, just to name a few.  He got a little gleam in his eye when he spoke about his dog, Jake, the World’s Greatest Dog, and told me that it was hard to leave him to come to the show.

Robert grew up in South Florida and Tennessee and now calls Tennessee home.  He said his father reminded him daily that “No one is better than you and you’re not better than anyone.  You can do anything you want.”  Robert  worked in the music industry for years and is still involved in the B. B. King Blues Clubs.  He became involved in the preservation and restoration of the Canton House in Franklin, Tennessee.  In doing research for the restoration project, he discovered that the Canton House was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War – the Battle of Franklin.   This research eventually led to his two books.  Robert said he wrote his books as fiction, because “fiction is superior to history,” and that “storytellers keep history alive.”

A Separate CountryRobert’s latest book, A Separate Country is about Confederate General John Bell Hood’s life after the Civil War.  In doing the research for it, Robert was surprised to discover that everything he’d learned about Hood wasn’t true.  While he didn’t write the book with this in mind, he’s hoping historians will re-assess the life of Hood.   Hood did write a book, Advance and Retreat, but Robert told me that it’s very dry and there aren’t many copies around these days.   I asked Robert why he chose the title A Separate Country and he was happy to tell me that he came up with that title himself and it represents the fact that New Orleans is like a separate country, that John Bell Hood and his wife Anna Marie almost formed their own separate country when they had eleven children and that the South (particularly after the war) is a separate country.  Robert loves New Orleans and did much of the research for this book there, as well as on line and by reading books. Robert said Louisiana writers have been very kind to him.  Speaking of A Separate Country, James Lee Burke said, “the narrator’s voice has the historical authenticity of Ishmael’s or Huck Finn’s.”

Robert Hicks with Okra SashA Separate Country is an Okra Pick book.  An Okra Pick book is a book that is Southern in nature and has been chosen by SIBA booksellers to hand-sell.  (Robert was a good sport and let me take a picture of him with his Okra Pick sash on.  You can click on the picture to enlarge it.)   Robert told me that he just hopes he writes good fiction and that he wants to write great fiction some day.  Personally, I think he’s already doing that.  He was so much fun to speak with – make sure to go see him if he tours near you.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2009 6:23 am

    Hi Kathy! I’m in a totally different part of the world; otherwise, I’d definitely try to make the trip to see him! Thanks for this post. 🙂

  2. October 2, 2009 6:53 am

    Fantastic post! You definitely gave me an insight into Mr. Hicks! I also love learning the reason he called his book A SEPARATE COUNTRY!

  3. October 2, 2009 6:54 am

    Wow. What an opportunity to have a chance to meet Robert Hicks and spend some time talking to him. I’m so thrilled for you. I loved Widow of the South and I am enjoying A Separate Country too. I like the Civil War era, and because I’m a Yankee born and bred, I like getting a southern perspective.

    I love all the meanings behind the title of his second book.

  4. October 2, 2009 7:08 am

    Wow, this is an amazing summary of what must have been a great talk! I loved hearing his thoughts behind the book, especially all the different meanings for the title.

  5. October 2, 2009 7:10 am

    You know how jealous I am! But also happy for you that you got to have such a great experience!

  6. October 2, 2009 7:24 am

    Looks like you had a good time at the show. I would love to read this book; I’m so ready for some good historical fiction – I’m definitely putting A Separate Country on my wishlist. Love the Okra Pick!

  7. October 2, 2009 7:47 am

    Terrific post Kathy!! As a Southerner, I am completely intrigued by this author and his books. The Civil War has always been an era that has interested me, so I will definitely be looking for these books…Thanks for introducing this author’s work to me!

  8. October 2, 2009 8:11 am

    You just do the best interviews with authors! And it was funny – I read “Okra Pick” but saw “Oprah Pick” at first! But I’m thinking they did that on purpose?

  9. October 2, 2009 9:17 am

    You just take one look at this guy and KNOW he has a joy for life! Look at that smile! How wonderful that you were able to meet him and talk to him. I cannot wait to read this book!

  10. October 2, 2009 10:10 am

    What a wonderful opportunity! Great pix.

  11. October 2, 2009 10:28 am

    How exciting to do this interview with him! His new book sounds great. I really enjoy historical fiction.

  12. October 2, 2009 10:39 am

    I just love meeting new authors. Plus, I like books about the south and historical characters I know nothing about (which would be just about all historical characters). Thanks. I’ll be looking for Robert Hicks.

    Straight From Hel

  13. October 2, 2009 10:55 am

    I am green with envy. I so admire this man’s writing and I am only one-third through the book. Thanks for all the insights on him that you shared in this post. It makes reading the book even more enjoyable.

  14. October 2, 2009 10:59 am

    Love his books….how wonderful to get to meet him!

  15. October 2, 2009 11:21 am

    I’m really excited to read this soon. I may try to figure out when the LT group read is happening and get to it then.

  16. Carol permalink
    October 2, 2009 12:48 pm

    Great post. I worked in Gettysburg some years ago, and I have to say the Civil War Era is fascinating.

  17. October 2, 2009 1:22 pm

    So glad you were able to meet Robert. He’s great! Everyone should read his books and visit Franklin and New Orleans!

  18. October 2, 2009 3:56 pm

    This is a terrific interview, Kathy and Robert sounds like a very enjoyable person to spend some time with. I love to meet and speak with authors, it makes the book so much more personal. It so nice you had the opportunity to meet him. Love the picture!
    ~ Amy

  19. October 2, 2009 4:40 pm

    What a great interview! The book sounds really interesting. 🙂 I hope little Jake didn’t miss him too much!

  20. October 2, 2009 5:04 pm

    Kudos to both you and Mr. Hicks. We loved having both of you at SIBA. Hope you can join us in Daytona in Sep, 2010.

  21. October 2, 2009 5:26 pm

    I’ll be seeing him this weekend at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville 🙂

  22. etirv permalink
    October 2, 2009 5:55 pm

    I just got RH’s book and looking forward to reading it!

  23. October 2, 2009 6:51 pm

    How cool to meet Robert Hicks Kathy! And such a great interview. I have A Separate Country on my tbr list

  24. October 2, 2009 7:01 pm

    I’ve just taken note of this book and Hicks’ earlier book. I was interested to read on Hicks’ site that John Bell Hood lost the use of his arm at Gettysburg. Last year we visited and were fascinated by Gettysburg.

    Anyway, the perspective of Hood’s post-Civil war life in New Orleans looks like it’ll be a good book to read.

  25. October 3, 2009 10:42 am

    Thanks for the opportunity to get to know him better. I’ve had my eye of both of his novels because the covers are so gorgeous and alluring. I really need to read one of them!!

  26. October 3, 2009 1:29 pm

    wow.. this is awesome! Love this post! I seriously need to read his novel.

  27. October 3, 2009 10:06 pm

    What a wonderfully written and interesting post! There’s several inspirational tidbits – I’ll be quoting Hicks and his dad. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  28. October 3, 2009 10:16 pm

    I haven’t read any books by Robert Hicks, but he sounds like someone I should be looking out for!

    It’s sweet that he’s been inspired by those words of wisdom from his father. I wonder which of my words will be imprinted on my kids (“Did you brush your teeth?! Make your bed before you leave for school!”)

    I love the smile on his face, and the okra sash 🙂

  29. stacybuckeye permalink
    October 3, 2009 10:40 pm

    I love meeting authors and Hicks sounds like a fun one. Thanks for including the pictures. I think the one of him and the sash is very cute. He’s obviously a good sport.

  30. October 4, 2009 5:22 pm

    I am reviewing A WIDOW OF THE SOUTH for Hachette as soon as I finish my current read. Thank-you for this interview. I like New Orleans and it’s history, perhaps it is the French in me.

  31. October 5, 2009 9:51 am

    Sounds like you learned a lot from Mr. Hicks. I love his idea that fiction is superior to history. Fantastic.

  32. October 5, 2009 11:01 am

    Looks like you had a wonderful time. His book sounds like one I would enjoy.


  33. October 5, 2009 4:21 pm

    I loved Widow of the South, and am excited about his new book as well. It’s so very cool that you met him and got a chance to interview him! Great interview!

  34. June permalink
    October 5, 2009 6:56 pm

    Hi Kathy,

    I enjoyed hearing about your visit with Robert Hicks. I just bought A SEPARATE COUNTRY. He looks like he was a fun person to interview.


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