An interview with Peter Troy …

Monday, January 14, 2013 
By Ben Beagle, bbeagle@bataivanews.com

Set against the dramatic backdrops of Ireland’s Great Famine and America’s Civil War, Peter Troy’s epic novel “May the Road Rise Up to Meet” tells the story of four distinct characters who illuminate the American experience.

The characters’ lives will unfold in two love stories that collide when the Civil War brings them all together.

And readers across Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties have begun following the story as part of the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project.

The program, in its 11th year, encourages readers to pick up the same book, read it, discuss it, and then meet the author during a series of talks and booksignings. Troy is scheduled to stop March 7 to 9.

The author, in an email interview with Daily News Lifestyles Editor Ben Beagle, talks about the inspiration for his debut novel:

WHY DID YOU TAKE ON SUCH A SPRAWLING STORY FOR YOUR FIRST NOVEL?

I was a high school teacher for 14 years prior to 2007 when I made the leap to write this book. I loved teaching for the creative avenues of instruction it afforded and the chance to make a profound impact that might yield exponential results. But writing had been my first calling, my dream deferred, and something inside me told me this was the time to take the chance.

I had two main characters in mind at first, one modern and one historical, whose story would be linked by a house in Cooperstown and a family lineage that would reach from before the Civil War through September 11, 2001. Over the course of almost two years I filled in the story, spanning some 160 years and told from the perspectives of nine main characters until it had grown so large that I realized it would best be told as a trilogy. That was when I began to focus on the first book, what would become “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You.”

By then two slaves, Mary and Micah, and another immigrant, Marcella, had all become major characters and I had come to realize that, along with the original historical character Ethan, theirs was a story of overcoming the limitations placed upon them. They were all intelligent, creative in some way, and mostly self-made. Before long, I came to see that this was a story about faith, about understanding that life has great meaning that precious few see before the last stitches of it are complete.

HOW MUCH OF YOUR OWN HISTORY INFLUENCED THE STORY?

While I am of Irish descent, the story was initially inspired by a mixture of my love for history and the desire to tell a great American story. As I progressed in the writing and editing of it the characters became the stars rather than the historical events that would serve as the backdrop for the story. There is, and will be throughout the trilogy, a considerable amount of my own and some of my family’s experience, but that will be reflected in the thoughts and aspirations of various characters more than in the details of their lives.

THIS IS YOUR FIRST COMMUNITY READING PROJECT. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO?

I am honored to have been chosen to speak about my book!

I look forward to speaking to people not just about the book, but the process of writing it, for they are quite related. In some small way, the story of my characters is my own story, and so, whether speaking to students who might aspire to write or pursue another dream, or speaking to people my age or older who look back at a dream deferred. I hope to encourage them to pursue those dreams with passion and determination.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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