Hiking in Serra da Capivara National Park

A Writer’s Journey –10 years later.

10 years ago (has it been that long?!) I set out on a two-year-long journey to conduct research for my first novel, The Seamstress. My research led me to the island of Itaparica; to the macabre Institute of Legal Medicine in Salvador, Bahia; to the green waters of the Rio São Francisco; to the dusty town of Piranhas, Alagoas, where I found a then 80-something-year-old man who’d fought cangaceiros as a fourteen-year-old boy; to the wilds of the Serra da Capivara National Park; and to the streets of my birthplace, Recife. I was fresh out of grad school, a girl in my early twenties, traveling by by plane, boat, VW van, motorcycle, and on foot across some of the most lovely and isolated scrubland in Brazil. Along the way I met scholars, farmers, taxi drivers, doctors, and hiking guides who helped me not only with my research, but also took care of me in ways I will always be grateful for: bringing me chicken soup when I ran a terrible fever, buying me medical supplies when I burned my leg on the tail pipe of a motorbike, and guiding me when I was lost. I was young, hungry, eager to write a book that I wasn’t sure anyone would even read, but one I believed in beyond all doubt. Now, 10 years later and on the verge of finishing my second novel (one that required a very different kind of journey) I look back on the person and the writer that I was back then and hope for just a little bit of my youthful hubris, of my unwavering belief, of my trust in my fellow man (and woman) and in the beautiful gift life gave me of having that trust honored and returned.