William Faulkner always worked what he called “my own little postage stamp of native soil.” He wrote about his fictional country for 24 years. Joan Didion, a native Californian like me, said, “You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.” I picked Rio Seco, a fictional place like the place I was born in California, when I was 18 and writing stories. For the past 20 years, I’ve written about the same place and many of the same characters. In Aquaboogie, there is Roscoe, Lanier, and Darnell, and mention of a woman named Big Ma. She was Marietta, who got her own book in I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots; Darnell got his own book in Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights. Marcus Thompson, who was the high school teacher and hero of The Gettin Place, is a lost love in my new book Take One Candle Light a Room. Serafina, a Mexican mother featured in Highwire Moon, showed up unexpectedly when I wrote this new novel. The only book that travels far away is A Million Nightingales – when I started this trilogy about a family from 1778 to the present, I realized Fantine’s ancestor, Moinette, was a slave in Louisiana, and so that novel is set south of New Orleans. I realized my own take on life: there are two kinds of people – those who leave and those who stay.

Between Heaven and Here
Between Heaven and Here (2012)
Take One Candle Light a Room
Take One Candle Light a Room (2010)
The Friskative Dog
The Friskative Dog (2007)
A Million Nightingales
A Million Nightingales (2006)
Highwire Moon
Highwire Moon (2001) (finalist for the National Book Award)
The Gettin' Place
The Gettin’ Place (1997)
Blacker than a Thousand Midnights
Blacker than a Thousand Midnights (1995)
I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots
I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots (1993)
Aquaboogie: A Novel in Stories (1990) (Milkweed National Fiction Prize)