Dear Friends and Readers,
I have so much to be grateful for this year, especially with the publication, in October, of my book Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South by UNC Press.
My travels to promote the book took me to Chicago, IL, Spartanburg, SC, Greensboro and Charlotte, NC, Mobile, AL, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA, and several towns in Mississippi, including Greenwood, Oxford, Jackson, and, of course, Natchez! I did so with the support of family, friends, and my press–especially Brandon Proia (my editor) and Gina Mahalek (my publicist).
Along the way, I wrote some essays about the research that went into Goat Castle for Publishers Weekly, the Organization of American Historian’s blog Process, and an essay that linked my research to today’s incarceration of women of color for TIME magazine. I appeared on several podcasts, and did a number of Q&A interviews for book bloggers and even VICE magazine.
What I had not expected was Charlottesville.
In the midst of promoting my book, I got caught in the public whirlwind about Confederate monuments. That began in August after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville under the pretense of defending the Robert E. Lee monument there. In response, I wrote op-eds for the New York Times (twice), The Washington Post, and CNN (twice), while also being interviewed by numerous media outlets including the BBC, i24 Israeli television, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Slate (France), the Los Angeles Times, and newspapers in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Japan. To be honest, I lost count of the interviews, because this issue became a global one overnight. I was also reminded of the fact that people don’t always appreciate what a historian writes. And yet, I also believe that historians must continue to write on issues for which they have expertise.
But, back to the goats.
Writing Goat Castle was the most rewarding endeavor of my career. I met wonderful people in Natchez, got to know descendants of one of the principals in the book, and was able to write a book that most people have found accessible. Everyone from my Aunt Wilma to my hairdresser seems to like it, and not just because they know me.
I’m frequently asked “what’s next?” I’m still trying to figure it out. When I do, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, Goat Castle has only been out a couple of months. And, it still has a future. Stay tuned.