One of the questions I’ve had for Desperation Road is this: did you do any research for this novel?
Yes, is the answer. Twenty years ago, I wasted hours upon hours of my youth and young adulthood, out on the south Mississippi backroads, the same roads that appear in Desperation Road, riding with pals and if I was lucky sometimes a girl, in cars and trucks with the windows down, and the music playing, the night a black tapestry around us and a feeling of serenity in the rolling hills covered in the dark. A cooler in the truck bed and familiar gravel roads that broke off the paved roads, that led into a place to park and sit on the tailgate, look at the stars and moon. Sometimes out there to laugh and sometimes out there to relieve a heartbreak. Sometimes out there for the simplicity of a moment and at other times to ponder the great questions of life. What am I doing and where am I going and when will an answer to any of this present itself? The hope and insecurities of youth settling on the Mississippi breeze.
The writing life was still ten years ahead of me and there was no way to see it coming, and like we have a tendency to do with age, I can look back to those nights along the backroads, the carousing and the friendships that once were, and see myself becoming the man who finally fell so far in love with stories and with the lyricism of language that he couldn’t help but sit down and try himself, not knowing the questions I left hanging in the starlit nights would one day be answered in more satisfying ways than I could imagine.
So I keep riding through the night, a pastime that won’t let go. Different roads now in a different spot in Mississippi, but it is all the same. The wind in the windows, the music from the stereo. My eyes into the dark, and a new set of questions in my mind.
Desperation Road is published in the UK by No Exit Press