Wailing Wall

About my writing

When I moved to the Midwest, I realized that many people outside of the South still have really romantic ideas about what it means to be Southern. They tend to think of small towns with tree-lined streets and people drinking mint juleps on the veranda. But there’s this other part of the South that happens in urban areas—like Memphis, where I grew up—where life is much more complex. When you add in things that the South has historically struggled with—poverty, race, addiction, gender and religion—the stories become richer and much more fascinating to me than magnolia trees.

For more than ten years, I used fiction writing as a distraction from a painful story that ached to be told-my own. I started and stopped a half dozen novels, each another attempt to turn my experiences into someone else’s. But every night when I laid down to sleep, there was no escaping the fact that the stories were mine, all mine.

Grief is the great exponent-it takes the issues you grapple with and multiplies them until you can no longer hide from them. The grief of losing my only son, Joshua, in a motorcycle accident left me broken and raw and tormented not only his death but the pain of a childhood with a mentally ill mother, my time in federal custody for drug trafficking and my quest to break the cycle of addiction that plagued my family for generations.

Wailing Wall (Inkshares, 2015) gets its name from a sacred public space where people go to mourn loss. Like the people who visit Jerusalem, I publicly mourned my son. On social media, I shared my pain and confusion with over 300 people day after day. Through their questions and comments, I came to better understand my place in the world and how I might find wholeness in my world, even after losing something so precious. Wailing Wall weaves social media discussions with poetry and fiction to tell my story.

Read a draft chapter of Wailing Wall

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