Kuttawa-based author Lawrence Weill was selected to join the 2021 Kentucky Book Festival in Lexington on Nov. 6 to share his most recent publication, “Silas LaMontaie.”
Weill, 68, started his writing career at the dinner table, speaking with his family and telling his father how his day went.
Family dinners, the writer explained, invited social commentary.
“We did a lot of storytelling,” Weill said. “Family dinner was always around the table.”
The “formalized event,” Weill describes, was a place to tell stories — although they weren’t fictional — he began accruing the literary tools and forming the narrative components necessary to write long-form stories and establish a long-term career.
Weill grew up in Owensboro and he lived in Georgia, Virginia, Washington D.C. and New York before moving to Lyon County in the early 1990s.
Reading, writing and repeating are the foundation of the writing process for Weill, the first step of which he honed as a child and teenager.
In the seventh grade, Weill acknowledged his writing gift when his teacher confessed to him his writing was the finest, not only in the class but up to that point by any student she has encountered.
He recalled reading novel sagas like J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and taking notes.
“I remember outlining a book at that tender age,” Weill said.
Weill is a visual artist as well. He works with graphite, oils, metal, and wood.
The award to participate in the 2021 Kentucky Book Festival is a special event, he said.
“This one is special to me,” Weill explained. “Not just anyone can sell a book here. It has to be approved and juried and go through.”
He noted he admires the company of writers joining him at the festival. He looks forward to sharing his work.
Notable authors Weill is interested to see at the festival are Silas House, Bobbie Ann Mason and Crystal Wilkinson.
“It’s humbling in a way to be included in that group,” he added.
His career in academia spans three decades. He has served as a professor, dean, and president, and he is currently the Interim Vice-President for Academic and Student Affairs at SUNY Sullivan.
Weill has published five books, one non-fiction and several short stories, poems, articles and other literary pieces. He has a couple of book projects underway and is searching for publishers. He writes at least two pages a day to maintain his spiritual equilibrium and meet publishing deadlines.
Before moving to LBL, Weill possessed little to no understanding of the lore and history of the national recreational area.
Conducting local research is how Weill adds local color to his stories. His latest work, “Silas LaMontaie,” takes place in southern Louisiana and Kentucky.
In writing his last two novels, “Silas LaMontaie” and “The Path of Rainwater,” he aimed to bring the setting to life and make it a character.
“Where we are, where we live, has such an impact — wherever we live — on how we behave, how we interact with people and how we respond,” Weill explained.
He makes contact with his fellow community members to communicate, translate and adapt histories of engagement and conversations to his narratives. Weill explained his past two books reference local and regional historical events and landmarks.
“I don’t pretend that it’s accurate,” Weill said, “but I want it to be authentic.”