A murdered singer and a strike in Gastonia: This true story led to ‘Last Ballad’

Five years ago, novelist Wiley Cash sent 25,000 words of what would become his third novel, “The Last Ballad,” to his editor at William Morrow. On the basis of those words, the editor bought the book. But in an early morning telephone interview, Cash tells me not one of those words appears in the finished version.

The New York Times bestselling novelist (“A Land More Kind than Home,” “This Dark Road to Mercy”), who grew up in Gastonia, says he wrote draft after draft, year after year, until the presidential election of 2016, when things began to crystallize for him. He saw how today’s events are a mirror-sharp reflection of those between the haves and have-nots of the mill society of the South in the 1920s and ’30s.

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(Charlotte Observer, 9/24/17)