Sheltering: Amy Jo Burns Talks Moonshine and Snake-Handling

AmyJoBurns Features LifeInAPandemic MarisKreizman TheVirtualBookChannel

On this episode of Sheltering, Maris Kreizman speaks with Amy Jo Burns about her new novel, Shiner. Burns talks about loosely basing a character off her grandmother, the possible legalization of moonshine, and the skill of snake-handling. Her favorite local bookstore is Labyrinth Books; please purchase Shiner through their website or through Bookshop.

From the episode:

Maris Kreizman: Tell me about moonshining.

Amy Jo Burns: I grew up in Northern Appalachia, in western Pennsylvania, and something I loved about growing up there was people taking a real pride in making something with their hands. 

Moonshine came as a surprise to me; I was doing research to fill in some gaps, but I found these stories of mountain moonshiners who build their lives around this craft. So much of the novel for me is what it means to feel misunderstand and be misunderstood, and how that can change the trajectory of a life. Moonshiners fit that symbolism so perfectly because they’re kind of treated like they’re trying to skirt the law and bootleg, but the truth is they’re making something of their earth that’s for their people and represents to them an art form, and provides a thread that connects their generation. It’s a very private thing they do in isolation that brings a community together, and I wanted to find a way to honor that.
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