A RESPONSE TO 9/11

With the approach of the 9/11 anniversary, I am drawn to that terrible time and the horror that all of us felt as we watched the world change.

At first, as I pored over every published word, I kept thinking of the previous February when we took four grandchildren to New York and enjoyed a morning in the North Tower. What would I have done if the plane had hit at that time? What if we had been stranded in the Windows on the World, that lush lunch spot overlooking the sprawling city?

Then an idea I cannot explain took form. As time went on and the search for survivors continued, I thought of how someone could use the fallen towers as an opportunity to escape.

Thus, began the gestation of my eleventh book. I busied myself writing and lecturing about Texas in the 19th century as memories of 9/11 played in my imagination. I was convinced the story was ready to be told when I heard a radio program that featured listeners sharing on postcards their deepest secrets. I was startled when one wrote, “Everyone thinks I died on 9/11!” Finally, last year during COVID-19, A LONG WAY HOME came to life.

Meredith Haggerty had crippled her husband in an auto crash and endured years of his abuse while harboring a plan to escape when she could make it look as if she died. She grasps her chance at freedom on 9/11 when her office collapses with the fall of the North Tower.

Heading to a new life in Mexico, her seatmate on the bus is Father Jacque Richelieu who convinces her to teach English at the health center he manages on the Texas Rio Grande. Residents of the little community are buffeted by our country’s march toward war and the frightening challenges of emerging cartels along the border. Although Meredith finds a home, she and the priest discover that they have not found themselves.