Frustrated that he couldn’t hop a plane and travel thousands of miles to experience the landscape and culture that inspired some of his favorite Russian authors, Tim Westover decided to do the next best thing. He jumped in his car and started exploring the areas that were within driving distance of his home in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Tim’s day trips turned into months of intense research into the history and folklore of the North Georgia mountains. This exploration of the local “history that he could touch” ultimately produced two works of fiction that Tim has published under his independent imprint, QW Publishers.
Auraria is the title of Tim’s first novel. It is also the name of a settlement that once rivaled its gold panning neighbor, Dahlonega, Georgia, in size and economy. However, Auraria is no more. Only a roadside historic marker speaks to its existence. The idea that a once-thriving town could vanish fascinated Tim; he wanted to write about the conditions that might have preceded the small town’s demise.
In the fictional Auraria, protagonist James Holtzclaw is acting on behalf of his employer to develop a lakeside resort. Although the book is set in the late 19th century, its storyline of the natural world and preservation versus industry and tourism could very well be contemporary. However, the tale gets tall when the ruby fish start flying in the novel’s first few pages. While Tim admits that the book is hard to place in any one genre, he’s happy with the labels of mountain folklore and magical realism that describe some of the whimsical and fantastic aspects of Auraria.
Tim says that if he’d had his way, Auraria would have been a catalog of the North Georgia mountains. “I would love to put together a 1,000 page book that is a mixture of magic spells, recipes and patent medicine. But it’s hard to sell a 1,000 page catalog of folklore.”
Coming in at a more palatable 216 pages, The Old Weird South is a collection of short stories that Tim has edited. These 24 stories further explore the supernatural of the American South.
Although he’s spent a good portion of his life in the American South, Tim spent his early years in England, where he first aspired to be a writer. As an elementary school student, he used his story writing class time to extend the boundaries of his favorite video game worlds. As a high school student, and later as an English lit major in college, Tim began writing more literary fiction, but always with a twist.
“I have always written fantastic things,” Tim says. “Not realistic. A little zanier than typical fiction out there.”
If you’re ever in Georgia, you might find Tim hiking, wandering through old museums, playing the clawhammer banjo or seeking out more off-the-beaten-path inspiration. To learn more about Tim Westover, visit his Baby, Book and Banjo blog.