|photo credit: Jenny Walters|
I see that you're a native of Houston, and your first novel was set there. How familiar were you with New Orleans before writing the novel, and what inspired you to set it there?
I set the novel in Louisiana because I had been to a wedding at the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie in 2004. It was an experience that never left me. I had never been on a real plantation before. And I didn’t know what to make of the fact that I was visiting one for the first time for a wedding! I thought it was so strange and macabre to turn a piece of history into an events venue.
In a broad strokes way, East Texas and Louisiana are not all that different from each other. I think this book would have been a lot more difficult to write if the majority of it took place in New Orleans proper because that city has a culture all its own. And I don’t think an outsider like me could get it just right.
What authors influence you and/or your writing?
Jane Smiley, Pete Dexter, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Larry Brown, Toni Morrison, Langston Hughes.
I did do a lot of research about plantations and about the sugar industry in that particular region of the country. I knew the basics. The arc of slavery and the civil war, but again, Louisiana and New Orleans have their own very specific history, and I wanted to read as much as I could before writing about the area.
I could definitely see The Cutting Season as a movie. If it was, would it be you who wrote the screenplay? (I see that you are a former screenwriter)
Also, who would you cast as Caren, Morgan, Eric, and the other main characters in it?
I don’t know that I would write the screenplay; mostly it has to do with time management. I’m starting my third book now, and I have a five-year-old. I don’t know that I could balance all that while writing a screenplay. But I want very much to be involved in any production that comes from this book – if not as a writer, then as a producer. As for casting, I actually haven’t given it any thought! Which is very different from my first book when I could actually picture Jeffrey Wright as Jay Porter as I was writing. He was almost exactly who I had in mind.
Do you have another book in the works, or a topic in mind for your next book?
I’m finding my way back to Houston and Jay Porter. And that’s all I’m going to say. ;)
Check out The Cutting Season on September 18th - it's a great novel and definitely worth a read.