By Seija Rankin
September 24, 2019 at 10:00 AM EDT
Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times; Mulholland Books

Attica Locke is no stranger to a complicated, suspenseful drama — she wrote for Ava DuVernay’s Emmy award-winning miniseries When They See Us and is a co-executive producer on the upcoming Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere. And this month she released Heaven, My Home, the sequel in her Highway 59 book series.

This installment picks back up with Texas Ranger Darren Matthews, who is tasked with tracking down the missing son of a local white supremacist family. The novel confronts the state’s upsetting history of racial turmoil while the crime element keeps the page-turning element turned up high. Ahead, Locke answers EW’s burning questions about her writing process and her favorite part of Heaven, My Home. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?
ATTICA LOCKE: A romantic short story when I was 11. I wrote it on hotel stationery while at a family reunion in Chicago. I had snuck away from the endless activities for the afternoon. It was the first time I remember being alone in a room writing, lost in solitude and my own imagination.

What is the last book that made you cry?
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.

Which book is at the top of your current To-Read list?
Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken.

Where do you write?
In my house mostly, and almost never in my actual office. I write on the living room couch or curled in an armchair, or sometimes on the floor.

Which book made you a forever reader?
Beloved by Toni Morrison.

What is a snack you couldn’t write without?
Does wine count as a snack?

Pick a GIF that you think, at this moment, best describes your book:

If you could change one thing about any of your books what would it be?
I’d probably put a map of the setting in each one (I did it with The Cutting Season, but I think more books should have maps.)

What is your favorite part of Heaven, My Home?
The passage when Darren Mathews is riding on a boat through a cypress forest in Caddo Lake. It was thrilling to write such descriptive language.

What was the hardest plot point or character to write in this book?
Bill “Big Kill” King, the supposedly reformed captain of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

Write a movie poster tag line for your book:
“A Texas Ranger who doesn’t know on which side of the law he belongs.”

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