A green light to greatness.®


Samuel is Teething

Samuel is teething. His gums are swollen with the wait, alternating between itching and aching for weeks. Mercifully, he’s asleep.

Shauna Garcia, his young mother, shifts the drowsy toddler from her left side to her right, trying her best not to wake the boy as she reaches for her purse on the floor beneath the courtroom’s wooden bench. He isn’t hungry, she knows that, but when his gums start bothering him, she’s learned a bottle is the best remedy to help everyone around them maintain their sanity.

Shauna and Samuel have been sitting in a child support hearing now for over three hours. Shauna was told that the weeks she’d spent arguing with Samuel’s father, Tony Sona, about an agreed order for child support and paternity would be “in everybody’s best interest.” And today—proud she’d finally talked him into attending the hearing—would be her reward: some certainty her son would be acknowledged and cared for.

Reunited: A Father's Love, A Daughter's Choice

He is standing alone outside the train station in downtown Dallas, armed with a cell that can’t seem to lose my phone number. Barely 5 feet tall, his bean-brown skin is boiled from years of pushing lawn mowers in the Texas sun.

A brisk March breeze cuts through the near empty city streets this Saturday morning, tunneling down Young Street, where he’s waiting for a ride. Waiting for me. He’s been waiting for years.

Ben Hernandez wants me to visit his home again. He wants pictures of my son, and a relationship.

After 25 years, he wants to be my father again.

Write Hard, Die Free

The impact of Bob Shacochis on my writing career is a bit like that of a terrorist attack from an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell: explosive and devastating, but triggered by an incredibly long fuse.

Storytelling Under Siege

I never wanted to write a book about Everest. There were too many already, a lot of them bad, some pretty good, and at least one of them an intergalactic bestseller. Serious writers tend to avoid topics that have been prodded to such eye-crossing extent, but suddenly—yes, it happened like that, suddenly, while finishing a magazine story about Everest’s calamitous 2006 season—it struck me that I didn’t just want to write an Everest book, I had to.

Gator Bait

I became a journalist at 19, a published novelist at 50. Despite the long span between those two events, they spring from the same inspiration: growing up in a storytelling family on the banks of Bayou Black, La.

A “Novel” Approach to Storytelling

On April 28, 2006, I sent my editor an e-mail with a two-word subject: Mexican Girl.

She had come up a day before, a passing name in small talk with an immigration judge. I was finishing months of work in and out of his courtroom, following Korean sex workers through the system, and had asked about any cases of note on the horizon. There was this teenage girl in the green card pipeline, he said, a girl he heard had been a captive, a concubine for most of her life.

Conan is a Bad Ass

It’s dark outside and Robert E. Howard is wrapping up his latest story. Twelve hours banging away at his Underwood typewriter—a normal day’s work, short even, by his standards. Sometimes he writes for 18 hours. He has to. He needs the money. The medical bills for his mother keep rising. Lately, ever since the operation on her spleen, he is constantly taking breaks from writing to feed her, change her clothes and bathe her.