Ron Rash on 'Serena,' 'The World Made Straight' and Knowing When to End a Story

Mar 11, 2015

Ron Rash lives in North Carolina and teaches at Western Carolina University.
Credit Contributed/Ulf Andersen

Throughout the next few weeks, WUTC will interview authors coming to Chattanooga April 16th - 18th for the 2015 Celebration of Southern Literature.  Today Ron Rash joins us.  Rash is an acclaimed author of poetry, short stories and novels; much of his fiction takes place in North Carolina, where he grew up and continues to reside.

Two of his novels, Serena and The World Made Straight, have been adapted into films.  Both are available on-demand right now from streaming services like iTunes and Google Play, and Serena is scheduled to hit theaters on March 27th.  Serena stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and Academy Award winner Susanne Bier directed it.  The World Made Straight stars Noah Wyle, Jeremy Irvine and Steve Earle, and was directed by David Burris.

In this extended interview, Ron Rash discusses the two novels and their film counterparts.  He also talks about creating the character of Serena--a larger-than-life sociopath reminiscent of Lady MacBeth--and the challenge of creating realistic motivations for such a character.

Rash is also a master of the short form.  Two of his stories are O. Henry Prize winners, and NPR praised his 2014 short story collection Something Rich and Strange.  Rash's short fiction sometimes ends on an ambiguous note, and he discusses his intuitive method of knowing when to end a short story.