Amanda Coplin grew up near Wenatchee, Washington, where she spent weekends at her grandparents’ orchard. Her parents had divorced and this was a place of solace for her. Her grandfather, who she describes as a very generous and patient man, became an important figure in her life. She says she sees glimpses of him in her book now. The Wall Street Journal describes The Orchardist story, and the main character, William Talmadge, like this:
Digging a living out of the hardscrabble fields of the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th century, Talmadge is comfortable with his spare, solitary life. But when two feral girls seek refuge with him, he is reluctantly drawn into a crusade and a family. To describe the plot or characters in more detail would undermine one of the many satisfactions of “The Orchardist” — its surprises. But the soul of the book is its landscape, the avenues of apple, plum and apricot trees that produce not just fruit, but bowers in which to hide, branches from which to drop.
Coplin studied English Literature at the University of Oregon and then got her MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2006. Now, at age 31, she’s moved back to the Pacific Northwest — this time to Portland — and is enjoying the fanfare surrounding her debut novel. She says the attention is “just a crazy dream come true.” As she told OPB’s Arts and Life, she’s still “not quite realizing” that her first book sold.
Are you working on your first book? Maybe you know Amanda Coplin from the University of Oregon? What questions do you have for her?