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Mtn. Talk: Carter Sickels & “The Prettiest Star”

Mtn. Talk: Carter Sickels & “The Prettiest Star”

Novelist Carter Sickels. Photo by Amie LeeKing.

In this episode Rachel Garringer talks with novelist Carter Sickels about his latest book The Prettiest Star – which will be published in May 2020 by Hub City Press.

The Prettiest Star is Sickels’s second novel, and it tells the story of a young gay man living with HIV who leaves New York City and moves back in with his family in rural Appalachian Ohio in 1986. In the interview Sickels reads an excerpt of the novel, and he talks about the process of writing this book, his interest in the intersection of rural and queer stories, and the challenges of finding stories of the AIDS epidemic in rural communities. Then, Sickels talks about getting to spend time on set in Harlan County, Kentucky during the production of a film based on his first novel The Evening Hour.  The film was directed by Braden King, based on Elizabeth Palmore’s screenplay adaptation of Sickels’s novel, and it premiered at Sundance in early 2020.

Music on this episode features the Dutch Cove String Band with a tune called The Greeneville Waltz.  That song comes off their album Sycamore Tea released by Appalshop’s own June Appal Recordings in 1978.

This episode was produced by Rachel Garringer. From all of us at WMMT, thanks for listening to real people radio, and please follow the Center for Disease Control’s Covid-19 recommendations of regular hand washing, social distancing, and staying healthy at home during these wild times.



AIDS epidemic,
appalachian history,
Appalachian Literature,
Appalachian Writers,
Carter Sickels,
Queer Literature,
Trans Literature,