Wayne Caldwell was born in Asheville, NC in the middle of the last century. He grew up in the Sand Hill section of the Enka community, where he remembers the Goat Man, the Beacon Restaurant, and Elson’s Drug Store. As a boy, he set up duck pins at the American Enka bowling alley, fished in Enka Lake, and took his first paying job at the Enka Lake Club, making ninety cents an hour.
He first became passionate about literature in Miss Laura Douglass Harrell’s English classes at Enka High School. She introduced him to Thomas Wolfe, among others, and joked with him about writing the Great American Novel. And occasionally threw an eraser at him.
He has three degrees in English, from UNC-Chapel Hill, Appalachian State, and Duke. In a former life he taught composition and literature at North Carolina Central and Union College (Schenectady NY).
His first novel, Cataloochee (2007) is still in print from Random House. His second, Requiem by Fire, is back in print (2020) from Leaning Chair Press, the publishing arm of Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café.
A third novel, Memoirs of an Unambitious Lawyer, has lain in a virtual desk drawer for some years. The unambitious lawyer is James E. (“Rass”) Carter, who appears in the first two books. He leaves Cataloochee as a youth, gets an education at Chapel Hill, and moves to Asheville as a young attorney. Caldwell is re-writing this novel in the light of certain current events, and hopes to find a publisher soon.
A fourth novel, Shadow Family, is seeking a publisher. It’s an adoption story, told in three voices, that of a birth mother, an adoptive mom, and their mutual son.
A new book, Woodsmoke (2021), from Blair, is his first foray into poetry. The main voice is that of Posey Green, an old Appalachian widower who heats his house with wood and reflects on nature and life. The secondary voice is that of Susan McFalls, a poet, who becomes his neighbor and friend.
He is the author of various short pieces, in 27 Views of Asheville (Eno, 2012), Drafthorse, an online journal from Lincoln Memorial University (Winter, 2013), Motif (an anthology of writings about water, Motes, 2014), and The Carolina Table (Eno, 2016). He also has a chapter in the hilarious collaborative novel, Naked Came the Leaf Peeper (Burning Bush, 2011).
Wayne won the 2010 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association for Requiem by Fire. In 2013, he won the James Still Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, for excellence in writing about the Appalachian South.
In his spare time he works up firewood.