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Author Interview "Thomas Brigger"

Thomas A. Brigger is a businessman, entrepreneur, traveler and author of Beyond the Higher Ground, a novel about intrigue and suspense amid the opioid crisis in Appalachia. With a background including construction worker, small business owner, instructional writer, real estate developer, builder, consultant and corporate executive, the author draws from his experience to recognize the nuances of human behavior. Proclaimed by a former instructor to be “potentially one of the great writers of the century,” Brigger set aside his business interests to concentrate on writing fiction, a craft that he mastered by writing short stories for most of his adult life. He writes from his home in Southwest Ohio, where he focuses on the variants of American life and matters of importance to American people.

Exclusive Interview

Tell us about your background and how it led to writing this book.

Having traveled to most parts of the United States, I have always been interested in the contrasting commonality and variations of people in different regions of the country. The unique conventions of the Appalachian people intrigued me more than most other areas, and I considered this to be a fascinating setting for a novel.

Which writers have influenced you the most?

  • John Grisham

  • David Baldacci

  • John Irving

  • William Faulkner

  • Ernest Hemingway

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

I always enjoyed writing short stories but did not get serious about writing until this novel. This book had its origin when I finished a rather banal novel in a hotel room one night and decided that I could do better. I wrote Beyond the Higher Ground in spare time over the period of a year and then set it aside. It was some years later, when I personally witnessed a heartbreaking result of illegal drugs, that I decided to complete it and get it published.

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

I was astounded by the devastating effects that opioids and other drugs were having on the Appalachian region and thought it would be good to bring attention to it in a sensitive manner. I did not want to make an accusatory statement of the region’s condition, so I wrote of personal struggles affected by the drug problem. Using the construction of a prison as a metaphorical background seemed like a natural and unique way to tell a story, and my own direct experience helped give it credibility.

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

Everyone is aware of the opioid crisis, but I don’t think there is enough awareness of the depth of the problem in rural America. I would hope that this book would help reveal that sad reality.

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

Moving on from adversity is not an endgame. Life goes on and we must continue to face its realities.

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

I am currently working on a novel about a miscarriage of justice evolving from a sophisticated illegal drug network in the rural Midwest. I hope to have it completed by mid-summer.

For more information on Thomas Brigger or to buy a copy of Beyond the Higher Ground, please visit

Tasked with an assignment to manage the construction of a prison on a remote Appalachian mountaintop, Tucker Mason sees an opportunity to restart his life past the death of his wife and the recurring demons of his childhood. But strange occurrences at the house that he rented on Bright's mountain and the suspicion of drugs being smuggled through the prison construction site create distractions that lead to violence, intrigue, and his own imperilment. Struggling under the weight of loss and guilt, he encounters a world that he never knew existed in the shadow of the emerging prison. With a unique perspective on the human condition, Beyond the Higher Ground takes its reader through a historical glimpse of Southwestern Virginia to a powerful exposition of the drug crisis that has devastated the region and the abject brutality of those who deliver it.

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