After talking with my mother about self defense on the Natchez Trace, I decided to go in a different, unorthodox direction. Because I’m me. And because my mother’s my mother.

(Carlos Ovalle, you have NO IDEA how apt your t-shirt suggestion is: FORGET MY GUN. BEWARE OF MY MOTHER. Seriously, people. When she arrives in Mississippi, nobody better mess with me.)


A couple of years ago, when To Live Forever was just a weird concept, I visited New Orleans for the first time. (Yes, I realize it’s pathetic that I was 42 when I went to New Orleans for an inaugural visit.) On that trip, I decided the story needed a mascot. A cheerleader. Someone who was connected to the place, who could root for it from the sidelines and help breathe it to life.

I wandered around the market with my cousin Lori, drinking in her descriptions of growing up in New Orleans, of how the place looked when she was a kid, of how it was different in the 1970s. We walked around a corner, and I saw my mascot, impaled on a swivel stand in a market stall.

It’s only fitting that the thing that wrote every word of my novel with me should be pinned to my backpack for my walk. Surely, it will scare someone.


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