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How One Man Tackled the Opioid Problem Head-On by Writing an Inspiring Book

Updated on July 16, 2020
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Thanks for stopping by! My name is Monica Viera and I'm an author who interviews different artists from around the world.

Drug Use Among the Appalachian Region

Many Americans are unaware that drug use among the Appalachian region is astonishingly high. Thomas Brigger, a corporate executive-turned-author, documented his experience regarding this phenomenon that he observed while he was traveling. In this interview, he exposes some of what he discovered and gives us some insight into his writing process.

The Story Behind the Author

Tell me a little bit about yourself and what led you to write this book.

With a background ranging from construction worker to corporate executive, I have traveled extensively around the United States and have always noticed the differences and similarities of people in various regions. I particularly loved the Appalachian region but found the level of illegal drug use shocking and saddening. I thought that writing a book about it might bring some awareness of a place that seems almost foreign to a lot of Americans.

Which writers have influenced you the most?

William Faulkner and Ernest Hemmingway were my favorites when I was younger. These days, I tend to follow good storytellers like John Grisham, David Baldacci and John Irving.

Share with us a bit of your journey through the writing process.

When I was traveling around the country, I read novels to pass down-time. One night, after I finished a rather banal novel, I told myself that even I could do better than that. I began writing Beyond the Higher Ground that night. I finished it about a year later, but it was when I witnessed heartbreaking effect of illegal drugs on a family member that I decided to have it published.

Where did the premise of Beyond the Higher Ground come from?

Higher ground is a metaphor for what we do to escape adversity. Escape, however, is not an endgame, and life goes on. In the book, Sally’s father says makes this point as they escape a rising river: “… it’s in us all to take odds with the world, and we don’t do no better if we back off from the river just to fall off a cliff somewhere else.”

The opioid problem in America seems to be growing exponentially, are you hoping your book will bring some of these issues to light?

While everyone has heard about the opioid crisis, I believe that there is little awareness of the intensity of the problem in rural America. I do not think the Appalachian people deserve a scathing expose’ of the problem, so I wrote Beyond the Higher Ground to reveal the problem in a sensitive manner.

What did you learn from writing this book?

I learned that the best writing occurs when I write from my personal knowledge and feelings.

What is the main message you want your readers to take from this book?

That life goes on after adversity and there is always hope.

What are you working on now and what can we expect from you next?

I am writing a novel about persons suffering from PTSD at odds with a sophisticated illegal drug system in the rural Midwest. I am also compiling a collection of short stories that I have written over the years.

Thomas is truly an interesting man that teaches us that if only we take some time to be patient and observant, we can come up with some interesting and entertaining writing!

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