Visiting Writers Series: Carter Sickels

Check out the last author to join us this Spring for the Visiting Writers Series, Carter Sickels, who talks about his newest book The Prettiest Star, (2020) and about writing. The Prettiest Star follows Brian Jackson, a gay man who comes back from New York to his small appalachian hometown after contracting AIDs. He and his family grapple with his limited time and his newly revealed homosexuality. In addition to his latest book, Sickels has also written The Evening Hour (2012) and teaches English at Eastern Kentucky University.

Sickels begins his talk with some excerpts from the book, including a section where Brian's parents first hear that their son has AIDS, and all the ensuing emotions and revelations that that entails. Sickles imbues and breathes a real sense of humanity into his characters, their reactions feel real and genuine.

Sickels also gives some great advice to writers on writing with empathy, and writing characters who have different backgrounds than you do. He talks about going to West Virginia for research, and how he wanted

"to express my love for the place, but I did not want to hide from the harder, darker parts: The claustrophobic web of religion, the stark closed-mindedness, the drug addiction and poverty."

These experiences helped shape his writing by giving him a wide swath of people and experiences to draw from.

This video will be available until May 20, so don't miss out!

Find out more about the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at

Written by: Brendan Doering

Photo credit: Amie LeeKing

Carter Sickels
Published: Mar 31, 2021 1:01pm