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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Author Determined to Film 'Big Stone Gap' Locally

Adriana Trigiani Visits Bristol Library


BRISTOL, Va. Barby Cobb Edwards said Saturday that her whirlwind flight from Denver, Colo., to meet author Adriana Trigiani was worth every mile.

A longtime fan of the New York Times best-selling author, Edwards couldn't believe her eyes while scanning Trigiani's Web site recently. Trigiani was scheduled to speak at the Bristol Public Library, in Edwards' former hometown.

After hastily confirming that tickets to the event were still available and friends could provide a place for her to stay, Edwards broke out some frequent flyer miles and flew in Friday just to meet the gregarious Trigiani.

"She just writes to my heart," Edwards said. " I was in a bookstore in Denver years ago and saw this book called Big Stone Gap. I thought, 'That has to be Southwest Virginia.' So I bought it. She writes about places I know, but it's more than that. She's extraordinary."

Saturday's appearance marked the third of eight events comprising the library's 2010 Discovery Series of guest speakers.

About 100 of Trigiani's family, friends and fans including some dressed like a character on the cover of her latest book, Brava, Valentine attended a meet-and-greet luncheon. Later, about 200 jammed into the library's large meeting room, laughing often and enthusiastically during Trigiani's rambling 90-minute presentation that was equal parts reunion and comedy routine.

Telling stories about growing up in Wise County, Trigiani explained how those experiences shaped her career and how she draws on real-life people to develop characters for her books. She also revealed new details about the upcoming movie based on that first book, Big Stone Gap.

The movie project, which she plans to direct, has twice been delayed for financial reasons but is expected to begin shooting this summer.

"What's taken time is the people who raised the money want it made in Canada. And I am just flat out saying no. I'm only going to make this once," Trigiani said. "Everybody who is involved in it wants it to happen here, so we're making it happen here. It looks very good for this year."

Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg and Lewis Black have committed to star in the movie, Trigiani said, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan from the Grey's Anatomy TV show is a possibility.

"Rosanne Cash is composing the score, but we really want to use as many area artists and musicians as we possibly can. We're really excited to record the soundtrack at Maggard's [recording studio] in Big Stone Gap. I seriously want everything done here as much as I can," Trigiani said.

Very Valentine, another Trigiani novel, is also being made into a Lifetime Network movie that is scheduled to air in 2011.

Billie Jean Scott, the school librarian whom Trigiani credits with helping shape her writing style, has stayed in contact through the years.

"She always loved to read," Scott said of Trigiani. "I can remember she was always reading two or three books at one time. And she was a very inquisitive person. I'm just glad to know her. She has done great things for Big Stone Gap."

During the presentation, Scott told a story about how Trigiani first called to tell her parents that her first novel would be called Big Stone Gap.

"There was a long pause and Adriana asked if her dad was still on the phone," Scott said. "He said he would have to leave right then to go to Paty Lumber Co. Adri asked why and he said he was going to get some lumber to 'board up the windows' of their house."

Kristie Fayler of Bristol, Va., stood in a long line Saturday clutching a stack of Trigiani's books. She was surprised when the author wrote a personalized message in each.

"I'm elated," Fayler said. "She draws so much from Appalachia in her writing. I like that a lot the fact she is bringing this area to the forefront."

Although she returns to the region often to visit her mother, Trigiani said such trips are always a treat.

"This is so much fun for me. I love coming home," Trigiani said. "When that plane comes in, I completely decompress and relax. You can breathe at last."

With more visits likely because of the movie, Trigiani might also make another appearance here, library foundation Executive Director Anita Foster-Machado said.

"I could have sold three or four times the tickets for this event, but we wanted to have her here at the library," Foster-Machado said. "We're already talking about her coming back and, next time, it would be at a larger setting."

A! ExtraTopics: Film, Literature