In my two published collections of short fiction, Learning to See Fish (formerly published as Gone to Ground) and Fetching Molly, I've told stories about a wide-ranging cast of characters whose struggles I've found heroic, intriguing, or futile. Sometimes, these stories end with my characters taking the step (or leap) that we presume will help them overcome their current obstacles. Sometimes, despite my characters' best efforts, stories end with them more stuck than ever, struggling in quicksand. Many of my characters are young and I assume that as they go on about their lives, they will grow and change. Engage in new struggles. Win new victories. Meet new defeats. For older characters, it's hard to know. They want to change . . . things to change. Can they? Will they? These are questions I hope linger after the last page.

It was very tough to decide whether or not to write the memoir, Sometimes I See You, a book that focuses on the life and early death of my daughter, Kirsten Shoshana. First, I wasn't sure I could do it either emotionally or artistically. Second, I wasn't sure I should do it. I talked it over with my wife, Luisa, and we decided it was important to try. Third, there was the matter of whether readers would find sufficient value in reading the book to have made it worth the effort. It took almost four years from start to finish but now I can say with certainty that I'm glad I did it.

I'd considered writing The Queen of Kansas for several years but had struggled with how best to approach it. I was fascinated by the stories my mother told me about her life and thought they contained the raw material I could use to fashion into a novel. The elements were there, but how to do it? Finally, in early 2013, I came up with an approach I thought would work and, of equal importance, I thought I could execute-a first-person narrative combining her stories with research so the book would be grounded in its historic context. Between the stories and the research, I found I had plenty of content. Lots of "what." What I didn't have was much of anything in the way of "why." And for a novel to work, it can't just be a string of half-remembered, disconnected stories from the point-of-view of a narrator. It was clear I'd have to come up with the "whys" myself. To find my own answers. To create my own world for my characters.

Although I've used the names of some real persons and many real places, in the end this is a work of fiction. A fictional memoir? Historic fiction? I'm not sure of the genre, but whatever it is it was an adventure to write. I hope you enjoy getting to know The Queen of Kansas.


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About the Books About the Plays
  The Queen of Kansas A Day in the Life of Fort Ross
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    Reading Mojado Extremo
  Learning to See Fish Abuelitas Tango
    Sample Text Oakland Triptych
    Reading The Whole World of Miss Buhai
    What Readers Say Consumption
  Fetching Molly Hollow
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  Sometimes I See You
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    Reading
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  A Circle of Elephants
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