“Winston’s Quest,” by Will Hall, is a novel about a young man’s quest to find truth. While on his journey, Winston learns new things about life and the importance of truth. The book is set in Chapel Hill and features many landmarks, although it goes unnamed.
Staff writer Elizabeth Tew spoke to Hall about his own journey and the importance of writing this book.
Daily Tar Heel: What prompted Winston to set out to find truth and meaning in today’s modern world?
WH: Winston is about 26 or 27, and when the book starts off he has had a very bad year.
In the last year he lost both his parents, his dog died and his girlfriend left him. All of the things he loved, he lost. All of the things he hates — like his job and the drive to and from work — he is stuck with. He is on the rooftop with his only friend, Scatterbrains Jackson, when Winston realizes he has money to take time off to figure things out.
DTH: What does Winston learn along the way?
WH: He runs into all kinds of people. One in particular is a homeless guy named Tom who portrays a Christ-like figure. He’s worn down and poor but has a lot of answers about real truth. One of the things that Tom tells him is that the answers are all around you. You just have to tune in and look for them.
DTH: Why use Chapel Hill as the setting?
WH: If you’re looking for answers where do you start? He goes back to his alma mater,which happens to be UNC Chapel Hill. It’s set in a university town, and I don’t say Chapel Hill, but it’s so clearly Chapel Hill. He calls Spanky’s Hanks. Starbucks is right next to Spanky’s. The cemetery he walks through is the same one that’s there now.
DTH: Why did you decide to write this book?
WH: I started thinking, if you write a book you can only draw on your own experience and places. When you walk through a cemetery, all you see on headstones is birth date and death date. We know nothing about the person. All those years they spent gathering knowledge, and we don’t know anything. When I die, everything is lost. I said to myself ‘gee whiz,’ I’ve been collecting all this stuff and if I was to die tomorrow what would I want to give my loved ones? What would I tell them? That’s what originally started it.
DTH: Is there a take away message in the book for its readers?
WH: Make it short, make it fun and make it everyday realities that you can identify with.
Everyone has an agenda — particularly TV — movies, our parents and teachers, it’s all just someone else’s agenda. They don’t tell you the truth because they are slanted toward their own truth.
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