CAP: Why did you choose “gardens” as the topic for Howling Hills’ first book? And why East Tennessee, specifically?
Terry: Gardening is something that still brings people together, despite their differences, and that’s something we need more than ever. Though I no longer talk politics with my
relatives, we’ll always have homegrown tomatoes. The stories are set in East Tennessee but have universal appeal. Readers from as far away as Massachusetts, Alabama, and Wisconsin have bought and enjoyed the book.
CAP: How long did it take to gather your stories? What was that process like? How did you decide which sorts of stories to include?
Terry: I gathered a few of them in the summer of 2017. That includes essays from Eleanor Scott, Kevin Saylor, and Chad Hellwinckel. I also interviewed a few people in April-May 2022. But we did most of the work in the past six months.
CAP: Can you describe the book for would-be readers? Is it anecdotes, personal experiences, informative/how-to, advice, a combination of these, or possibly even more?
Terry: It’s like visiting a bunch of friends, hearing their stories, and learning something. Maybe you learn what you should do in a garden. Or what not to do.
CAP: Can you describe how the book collaboration started?
Terry: Photographer Kelly Norrell and I started the book as a neighborhood project when I lived in Knoxville. We weren’t quite able to pull it together and abandoned the idea when my wife and I moved to Kingsport. Brad Lifford and I met through work. We both liked gardening. When I told him about the idea, he loved it. Together, we wrote the bulk of the book and formed Howling Hills Publishing.
CAP: What do you want readers to know first and foremost?
Terry: This is a book about interesting people. You don’t have to be a gardener or even like gardening to enjoy it. If you’re a gardener, it’s even better.
CAP: A favorite story or anecdote from the book?
Terry: My friend Chad talks about how he cooked a roast in his compost bin. It worked, because he’s still alive and in good health.
CAP: How long did the overall project take?
Terry: Overall, several years. But we really did the majority of work in the past six months.
CAP: How did Howling Hills come to be? Can you tell us more about the publishing endeavors and business?
Terry: I wanted to start a nonfiction publishing company for at least a decade. When I met Brad, he liked the idea. He also proved to be the perfect partner. Our backgrounds and interests are similar and together we came up with a shared vision for Howling Hills. And we’re both very committed to that vision.
CAP: What is next on Howling Hills’ agenda?
Terry: We’re publishing a collection of ghost stories in September, followed by two collections of essays, one from a longtime newspaper columnist and the other from a very talented new writer. Brad and another writer, Kevin Mitchell, are working on a guide to East Tennessee breweries. And we’re talking to a few other people about ideas we like.
CAP: Where did the name Howling Hills come from?
Terry: We wanted something fun that could represent Greater Appalachia and the things we’ll be doing. So, the two of us, along with a mutual friend, brainstormed quite abit. We probably had 50-100 possibilities, only to find many of those names had already been taken. We eventually narrowed it down to a half dozen names and polled our friends. I’m not sure Howling Hills received the most votes, but it was near the top and was a name we could agree on.
CAP: What is the vision and intent for Howling Hills?
Terry: We want to tell strong regional stories that may otherwise be overlooked. The region is Greater Appalachia, which we define as the length of the Appalachian Trail. I guess we can argue about the width.
CAP: Other projects you want to tackle?
Terry: We have too many to list right now. In general, I’d like to publish local history, books on nature, food, and the environment, along with topical memoirs. We’re open to any regional nonfiction proposal. For us to accept an idea, it will have to spark strong passion in one of us, and the other will have to at least like it. And we have to be able to sell copies.
CAP: Where can people order and learn more?
Terry: Visit our website, howlinghillspublishing.com. You can also follow us on Facebook.