Willimantic, CT. – Chris Torockio, associate professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University spoke to the Eastern community about his newest novel, “The Soul Hunters,” in early April in the Student Center Theatre.
“The Soul Hunters” is a story about three brothers who are cleaning out their recently deceased father’s home and mourning their loss. The brothers, all in there fifties, are dealing with endings and the process of moving on. The entire novel takes place the night after the funeral as they go through the house. Each chapter is narrated by a different character, allowing the reader to experience three different perspectives.
Torockio discussed the idea behind the book and how the characters came to be saying, “I try to separate myself from the characters as much as I can, but I end up injecting a little of myself into every single character but not specifically one.”
“The Soul Hunters” is based on a semi-true story from Torockio’s past, based on the death of his grandfather and subsequent funeral; all the characters have ties to Torockio’s real-life family members.
“This is one of the few times I used a real-life incident as a springboard for my fiction,” said Torockio. “I try not to, it makes me feel weird. I am more in the ‘what-if’ school of writing.”
Although Torockio said he preferred to leave personal experiences out of his books. This story was inspired from an experience sitting around an invisible kitchen table. “I remember after the yard sale we went inside to sit and chat. We sold the kitchen table but not the chairs, so we all sat in the chairs around where the table should have been. I remember thinking, ‘there is definitely a story here,’ so I used that as a jumping point,” said Torockio.
Torockio expressed the difficulty he faces while writing a novel. “I’m better at capturing a single moment, which is nice because that can really carry you.” His writing career features mostly short stories that have been published in a variety of literary journals. His writing process for “The Soul Hunters” was based on a several “little moments” pieced together. He discussed how he thinks about what happens next, rather then picking an ending before the beginning. “I don’t like outlines. I write novels like I write stories, about halfway through I hope I can see the end.” Torockio took about four years to finish “Soul Hunters.”
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Torockio attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts. He also has a doctorate from Western Michigan University. He has been awarded grants from the Connecticut Commission of the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council and the Vermont Studio Center. His writing has been published in the Antioch Review, The Gettysburg Review, the Iowa Review and other literary journals.
The English Department and Eastern’s Writer Guild sponsored this event.
About Eastern Connecticut State University
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 158 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 20 other states and 63 other countries. A residential campus offering 38 majors and 55 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 27th top public university in the North Region, by U.S. News and World Report in its 2016 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council six years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.
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