Bestselling author Wiley Cash reserves some of his most pointed writing for his Facebook page

Nov 9, 2021

Novelist Wiley Cash frequently comments on politics on his author page.
Credit BPR News graphic

In the early 2010s, anyone following the author Wiley Cash on Facebook would find what they’d likely expect. There were posts about Cash’s upcoming books and readings, raves about other authors and some photos of Cash’s wife and the birth of their first child. But toward the middle of the decade, Cash began sprinkling in posts of a more political nature.

“I am no journalist, but somebody who engages publicly with ideas and doesn’t only launch my ideas out in a book every three to four years or whenever I can get around to publishing them,” Cash said. “I saw whatever tiny mouthpiece I have in my corner of the Internet or book tour as a valuable place to share the ideas that I have.”

In a burst of posts in the fall of 2015, Cash called out North Carolina’s U.S. senators for opposing gun control legislation. The following year, Cash devoted some of his posts to defeating North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill.” He took regular aim at President Trump and Trump supporters over the next few years. Since the pandemic, Cash has often assailed those opposed to vaccinations and wearing masks. His latest targets are Texas and other states that have reduced legal access to abortion.

Cash’s fourth novel, “When Ghosts Come Home,” was published at the end of September. In the book, a mysterious plane crash sparks a story dealing with race and class in small-town North Carolina.   

“My identity as a citizen and a father and a North Carolina native and a husband and someone who has certain ideas about who I am as a person, that finds its way into my books,” Cash said.

“I began to see very little delineation between my role as a writer and my role as a citizen. My values in both pursuits are the same.”  

What’s striking is these posts are on Cash’s official writer’s page, where he has 9,700 followers, as opposed to his personal page for family and friends. The page also states that Cash’s publisher, Harper Collins, is responsible for the content.

A publicist for the publisher didn’t respond to an email asking to discuss this issue, but Cash said he has the tacit support of the leadership at UNC-Asheville, where he’s on the creative writing faculty.

“How many times I’ve been at events, especially in the South, where somebody will stand in the book line and just lean in and whisper ‘Thank you for being a voice. Because of my community, because of my job, I could never say the things that you say,’” he said.

Dave and Carrie Kerpen are nationally renowned social media experts based in New York. They said that while public figures often see wide backlash for expressing conservative views, Cash is playing it smart by getting political on his Facebook writer’s page.

“Wiley’s page, if Harper Collins believed his comments would sell fewer books, they would not allow such comments on his Facebook page,” Dave Kerpen said.

“A lot of people with more conservative viewpoints are leaving in droves to go to other networks because they feel they’re not heard or will be canceled for their viewpoints,” Carrie Kerpen added.

“What authors need to do to sell books is build and grow communities of readers. Taking a perspective, political or otherwise, helps to build community,” Dave Kerpen said. “Authors need people to believe in them as people and politics is part of that picture. There is a price to be paid, but for some, it’s a risk worth taking.”

Cash agrees, saying if there’s any impact at all on book sales, it’s minimal. He said he uses social media to build community rather than influence anyone’s thinking on a given topic. In September and October, Cash’s Facebook page seemed devoted solely to book promotion. But with the election results of last week, Cash jumped right back on the political hobby horse.

“I want my kids to be able to look back at the books I have written, the intense paper trial of records and letters and journals and ideas, and the paper trial of social media and say ‘I know exactly who my father was,’” Cash said.