Author Interview: Josh Ritter

Performed by Josh Ritter and featuring an exclusive original song inspired by the book, The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All is a lyrical, sweeping novel about a young boy’s coming-of-age during the last days of the lumberjacks. We spoke with author Josh Ritter about the inspiration for The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All, narrating the audiobook, and more!

The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All

By Josh Ritter • Narrated by the author

“I loved this mythic American story. My heart overflowed with affection and raced with terror for Weldon Applegate! Josh Ritter’s lyrical imagination frolics unfettered on page after fast-turning page.”

Anaïs Mitchell, author of Working on a Song: The Lyrics of Hadestown

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I grew up on the side of a mountain in northern Idaho. I was entranced by the tiny timber towns dotting the forest to the east. I used to spend time driving between them and hiking in those woods. I grew up and moved away and became a touring musician. Sometimes my only real home was the one I built with my imagination in that mythic landscape. I wrote The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All as a kind of love song to that place.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

I wrote a great deal of the book back stage at venues and festivals all over the country and in Europe. The setting for the novel, the St. Anne river valley, is based upon the St. Joe forest, near where I grew up.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? What struck you about the narration?

I was very lucky to be able to narrate my own book! As such, it was a beautiful chance to dive back into the world of the novel for a little while. I wrote The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All always reading work back aloud, and it was really fun to spend time with Weldon and his irascible voice.

Are you an audiobook listener? What are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I love all kinds of books! One of my favorite listens was Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, but I love any listen that will take me far away. I’m a big fan of Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman and A.S. Byatt. I really enjoy running to Stephen King, but there’s a book for every mood and situation.

Bring Up the Bodies

By Hilary Mantel • Narrated by Ben Miles

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

Indie booksellers and indie bookstores—like indie record stores—have been profoundly important in shaping my career. They are portals. They are a nexus for their communities. Their belief in me and in my art has given me the most wonderful treasure of all: the chance to make something new.

Anything else to share with us?

Only that I’m honored to be involved and hope that folks like my narration and the original song, “Some Somewhere,” that I recorded for the audiobook!

Header photo by Laura Wilson

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