Charles Frazier was told a story by his father about an ancestor named Inman who was wounded in the Confederate Army. Inman deserted, and walked across North Carolina, to his small hometown at the foot of Cold Mountain.
Frazier thought it would be a good basis for a novel, but he couldn’t find much more information about the real Inman. So, he wrote from his imagination, and from letters and diaries from the Civil War.
But he wasn’t sure he wanted to write a “war novel.”
“I didn’t want to write a novel of the battles and the generals and those famous personalities. There have been a lot of books written about that — good ones and bad ones — and I didn’t want to add to the bulk of that literature.’
I like how Frazier divides those novels into two categories.
“I realized that there are two kinds of books about a war: there’s an Iliad, about fighting the war, and about the battles and generals, and there’s an Odyssey, about a warrior who has decided that home and peace are the things he wants. Once I decided that I was writing an Odyssey kind of book instead of an Iliad kind of book, I could move forward with it with some sense of happiness.”
Inman is a Civil War Odysseus on a journey back to, Ada, the woman he loves,
He published Cold Mountain in 1997. It was on The New York Times best-seller list for months, and was also made into a film with the same title.