About David Joy
David Joy is the author of the novels Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015) and Waiting On The End Of The World (Putnam, 2016), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction.
His work is represented by Julia Kenny of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.
His latest short stories and essays have appeared or are awaiting publication in Still: The Journal, The Pisgah Review, Flycatcher, Drafthorse Literary Journal, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Bird Watcher’s Digest.
Joy lives in Webster, North Carolina.
Sam: Can you tell me a little bit about your debut novel, Where All Light Tends To Go (Putnam, 2015)?
David Joy: I think Ron Rash was right in saying that the story is about an eighteen-year-old boy trying to transcend a family legacy of violence. For me, it’s about the futility of hope, in a lot of ways a sort of elegy for circumstance. All young men are faced with discerning what exactly it means to be a man, but, for many, what is illuminated, and even glorified, is something volatile. So the story follows a few short weeks in the life of Jacob McNeely, a kid who, from the very start, has been dealt a bad hand. It’s about him trying to decide whether to grit his teeth and bear it or try to cross the razor wire. For some, I think, dreaming is just an unrelenting reminder that when morning comes you have to wake up. So it’s kind of a coming of age story set in a place where coming of age doesn’t mean much at all.
S: Boiling it down to five words, what would you say is the essence of the novel
DJ: It’s about hope versus fate.
S: Can you give me a few adjectives that boil it down further?
DJ: Savage, propulsive, dark, violent.
S: If you could pick a spirit, type of beer or wine to match the novel, what would it be
DJ: There is only bourbon.
[note: Sylva, NC craft brewery Innovation Brewing recently released a specialty beer based on the novel.]
S: Can you tell me how the beer came about?
DJ: My best friends own an incredible brewery in Sylva, Innovation Brewing, and after Nicole and Chip read the novel they decided they wanted to try and come up with a beer to release when the novel came out. What they came up with was a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout that, at 11%, will damn near burn blue. So when the book comes out on March 3, they’ll be releasing limited edition twenty-twos, and folks can get a discount by grabbing a copy of the novel at our local indie, City Lights Bookstore. It’s the first beer they’ve ever bottled so it really is an honor.
Inspiration: WALTTG is, as Joy says, is about attempting to transcend violence inherent in his life, to find light. At the same time, Jacob must wrestle with the ghosts of his past and the demons that exist in his present. This drink, a shot, I hope is a reflection of that. The light is literal in this case (Note: blow out the shot before you take it. Don’t be stupid.) and the burn is real. There might be pain involved in taking this, and it might be strong for some, but after reading the novel, that’s the kind of hurt it leaves you with. It’s the kind that makes you want another.
- .5oz bourbon whiskey
- .5oz peach nectar
- Corn whiskey (moonshine)
Shake bourbon and peach nectar together with ice. Pour in shot glass. Using the back of a spoon, layer moonshine on to fill. Light and let burn for a few seconds. Blow out.