Tome Raider: Talk about the time frame. When did you start writing this novel: before or after Katrina?
The prologue is narrated in the first-person plural tense. Who does the “we” refer to?
Let's talk about Philomenia.
That's just it. How much of what Philomenia does is motivated by illness, and how much of it is motivated by maliciousness?
I was very interested by Philomenia's vision from her youth—the one where she's riding on a bicycle, imagining being a world traveler, and then she accidentally drives right into that shovel on the back of a truck. What does that symbolize?
I found the violence at the end of the novel to be very jarring—it seemed to come out of nowhere. All of a sudden, this old woman whacks her husband in the head with a pot and then starts firing a pistol. Do you feel you laid the foundation for that violence? Do you feel that you earned it?
The Fearius sections were amazing. What kind of research did you do to write that dialect so seamlessly?
The Neighborhood Story Project
Death Around the Corner
When Ariel and Javier finally have sex for the first time, why do you cut out? Up until the moment of sex, you're giving a detailed description of everything they're doing, all the parts of their bodies. But when it comes time to actually do the deed, you take care of that in just one sentence. Why no play-by-play?
Let's zoom out a little. What do you think is art's role in the face of a major catastrophe like Katrina?
Well, for instance, a work of fiction like yours. In what way do you see your novel being in dialogue with New Orleans, both before and after Katrina.
You currently teach writing. What advice that you also give to your students do you find you're always applying to your own writing?