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Why I wrote EVEN YOU

EVEN YOU was begun by my partner, Mary Lou Kallman, who died in 2003, leaving a hundred or so first-draft pages of Jessie’s narrative. She thought the semi-autobiographical story couldn’t stand by itself, without some sort of framing tale. It’s one of life’s hideous ironies that my grief at her death provided the material for just such a frame.

Jessie’s story was engaging and important, and I didn’t want to see it die with Mary Lou. We two had worked closely together (we co-wrote Playing for Keeps under the pseudonym Jack Kendall), so it was natural for me to honor her by taking on the novel’s completion. Over the years, she’d told me a great deal about the joys and terrors of her childhood in Tulsa. But when I traveled there and retraced some of her steps—I found inconsistencies. What was true in her narrative? What was fiction? And what the vagaries of memory? This confusion bore fruit as I worked my way through EVEN YOU.

Here’s what was hardest about writing EVEN YOU: I never stopped struggling to stay true to Mary Lou’s vision, but I knew at the same time that I, alone, was responsible for creating this work.

I think she’d like it.

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