Author Katy Simpson Smith became fascinated with the role of women in the 18th Century American South while she was studying for her Ph.D in history at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Her curiosity prompted her to read through every slave narrative over a 100-year period, and her creativity prompted her to fill in what those records left to the imagination. That foray into fiction led to her first novel, "The Story of Land And Sea," (Harper Collins/2014).
Now, she has written a new novel based on the incomplete records of three men in southern Alabama: a white man, a black man and a Native American man. The three forge an unlikely partnership after they are accused of murder and flee through a land whose ownership is still up for grabs.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Smith about the novel "Free Men" (HarperCollins/2016).