Giants of West Tennessee: An Interview with Memphis’ own Southern Avenue

Southern_Avenue_Photo_Credit_David_McClister

NOTE: This is the latest in an ongoing occasional series about notable figures from my home region. This one is unique because, instead of a nostalgic look back, it’s about something brand new. This interview needs two introductions to set up the context. Number one: when I was growing up, WHBQ-AM out of Memphis was the radio station, a Top 40 melting pot … Read More

Presenting Rex Winters: the Story behind Gather Her Round’s Dedication

Stack newspaper

Sometimes dedicating a book is easy, as when a particular person inspires you to write it in the first place, as Tia Sisk did for my first novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde. Or when they’re instrumental in the writing process, the way my son Jake was for Wake of the Bloody Angel. Or when the stars just align, as they did … Read More

Some Halloween thoughts on NotLD

Halloween 2016

We had a breakthrough this past weekend: I finally convinced someone in my family to watch a zombie movie with me. My elder son, age twelve, joined me for the original Night of the Living Dead. It’s hard to imagine, in 2016, seeing it with no preconceptions, and since I’m his father, the boy certainly didn’t. I’ve sung its praises … Read More

Some Thoughts from Down at the Crossroads

Crossroads

WARNING: Contains spoilers for the 1986 movie Crossroads (not the 2002 Britney Spears film). If you haven’t seen it, I wholeheartedly recommend it. I recently rewatched Walter Hill’s movie Crossroads, and was surprised by how much I had internalized its depiction of the relationship between music and magic, and how that had influenced my own Tufa novels. I first saw it … Read More

Ode to Billie Joe: the value of the hidden

ode to billie joe single

Yesterday was June 3rd, or as Bobby Gentry describes it: It was the third of June, another sleepy dusty delta day…. That is, of course, from her magnificent ballad “Ode to Billie Joe,” a song as much about what’s unsaid (or unsung) as it is about what’s said. Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge; the singer, a young … Read More

Your Musical Community Is Where You Find It

Cadillac's, the bar where I grew up.

Music as a communal event is difficult for someone like me, who doesn’t play any instrument and doesn’t (or shouldn’t) sing. I’ve attended concerts where the sense of community was created by the shared music we all knew, or by the intense efforts of the performer to make sure that connection happened. But for the most part, I’ve always been … Read More

Help fund Tufa Tales: Appalachian Fae

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One of the best perks about being a writer is that you get to meet other artists. Most of them are fellow writers, but I’m lucky enough to also count visual artists, filmmakers, and musicians among my friends. I’ve connected with many of them through art, either theirs or mine, as well as through social gatherings like conventions and workshops. … Read More

Duck Dynasty and the Quack of Hypocrisy

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field …. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I … Read More

Announcing Linda Fontana and T.S. Bunch

  First, a little personal history. My late brother hated hunting. In the early 70s, after he returned from serving in Vietnam, he wrote an op-ed piece for the Springfield, MO newspaper criticizing hunting, specifically deer hunting. This caused some friction with my dad, who was a dedicated hunter, although of much smaller things (mostly squirrels, rabbits and geese). I’m … Read More

How Does Being a Southerner Affect My Writing?

Not an exaggeration; this is actually typical.

Recently fan Laura Kannard asked me, “How has being from the South affected your writing?” I got a similar question during my recent appearance at Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ, so it’s been fresh on my mind. And it’s one of those questions for which there’s no easy answer. It’s clear that the South certainly has more than its … Read More