I'll be reviewing Joy's book tomorrow,
but here's a great guest post from her, tohelp set you up for the book!
When I decided to set my new thriller Hell or High Water in post-Katrina New Orleans, I knew I wanted to take readers well beyond the tourist zone they would ordinarily encounter if they visited the city for a conference or vacation: beyond the French Quarter’s decadence, beyond the groomed and lovely Garden District. Having traveled to New Orleans with my husband for the past twenty years—staying with his family, spending time with friends—I approach the city with the fascination and respect of an affectionate outsider. I wanted to share its tremendous cultural and geographic variety with readers.
In Hell or High Water, protagonist Nola Céspedes, a young reporter for the Times-Picayune, is tasked with writing an investigative feature about the registered sex offenders who went off the grid during the Katrina evacuation. Nola’s research takes her across class divides and racial lines to all corners of the city. Some scenes take place inside the Times-Picayune building on Howard Avenue, while others occur in Nola’s little apartment in Mid-City. Nola interviews released perps at their homes in Metairie, the Faubourg Bouligny, the Quarter, and Audubon Place. She interviews concerned parents in the poor neighborhoods of the Upper Ninth Ward and on wealthy St. Charles Avenue. Her investigation takes her into both Orleans Prison and the library on the campus of Tulane University. Her romantic interest, Bento, is a coastal geomorphologist who works to restore Louisiana’s wetlands. During the course of the novel, Nola travels out of town both to a plantation and to Grand Isle, a barrier island in the Gulf.
Because of their different geographical terrain and varying levels of financial resources, these areas were all affected differently by Hurricane Katrina, and they bounced back at different rates. By 2008, when Hell or High Water is set, some neighborhoods were still devastated, while others showed no hint of damage. But for everyone, in every area, the emotional trauma of Katrina lingered.
We’re shaped by where we live. Like neighborhoods, individual people respond differently to catastrophe. We recover at different rates, based on our internal and external resources. Hell or High Water is a murder mystery about aftermath: the aftermath of criminal violence, the aftermath of natural disaster. A beach read that tackles serious issues, it probes the intimate links between people and the places where we dwell.
About the Author: Joy Castro is a memoirist best known for her book The Truth Book: Escaping a Childhood of Abuse Among Jehovah's Witnesses, published in 2005. In addition to non-fiction, she also writes poetry and short fiction. She earned her B.A. at Trinity University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in literature at Texas A&M University. In 2007, she joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is currently an associate professor with a joint appointment in English and Ethnic Studies. Joy's website: http://www.joycastro.