I am excited to welcome debut author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, Andra Watkins.
Explorer Meriwether Lewis has been stuck in Nowhere since his mysterious death nearly two centuries ago. His last hope for redemption is helping nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney flee her madame mother in New Orleans and find her father in Nashville. To get there, Merry must cross his own grave along the Natchez Trace, where he duels the corrupt Judge, an old foe who has his own despicable plans for Em.
If you bother to read these words, you’re reading a shifty man. A notorious man. Some would even call me perfidious.
I like that word. Perfidious.
You don’t remember me, but I lived. Once. Just like you. Only I knew all the famous people of my day.
George Washington. John Adams. Thomas Jefferson. I tricked them all, pretending to grovel to their greatness, while I had my own agenda.
I always had my own agenda.
Even in death.
I woke up in this in-between place. A token for my sins, somebody whispered, and I said, “There is no token for my sins. I don’t even call them sins. Hell, I’m proud of them.”
Nobody answered me.
Instead, I was shunted off to this not-life. Required to find a path to redemption. Making things right was embedded in the genetic code of this place.
I didn’t care about that.
My agenda led me to find my wife. It was the last thing she breathed. “Find me again.” I kissed her tubercular lips, ringed in blood, and I promised her. I swore. I would spend eternity uniting us.
I never knew the bane of my lifetime would be called upon to stand in my way.
I’ll just have to kill him.
When I decided to write a book about the afterlife of explorer Meriwether Lewis, I had a vague notion of a bad guy. A cliche villain. He played out a one-dimensional life on the page.
I wasn’t happy with that.
So, I turned to Google. Did Meriwether Lewis have any enemies in life? Who were they?
I uncovered a character who was delicious in his evilness, a man who prevaricated and schemed and traitored his way through his entire life. I never expected a man named James Wilkinson to become my villain, but he stepped forward. Ready. Even excited.
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to do anything dirty.
Meriwether Lewis died on the Natchez Trace at 35. One theory of his death is that Wilkinson ordered a hit, in retaliation for Lewis replacing him as territorial governor of Upper Louisiana.
While I’m not sure that’s plausible, Wilkinson hated Lewis, and Lewis returned the sentiment. Their conflict from life gave me a means to bring them to blows in the afterlife, something I never expected when I sat down to write To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis.
My villain became multi-dimensional. My fight scenes were imbued with angst that was centuries old. I even felt sorry for Wilkinson as he searched for his dead wife. Because he loved her, even if his choice was unseemly. And inappropriate.
I’m grateful to James Wilkinson for living. He was a rascal, but I’ll never forget him. When I found him, I didn’t expect to care about him.
But I do.
And I hope you will.
Meet Andra Watkins!
Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Michael T Maher. She is the first living person to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did prior to the rise of steam power in the 1820’s. From March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014, she walked fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. She spent each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809. In addition to celebrating the release of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, the walk inspired her upcoming memoir of the adventure, Not Without My Father, coming in Fall 2014.
Want to purchase Andra’s novels?
To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis
Echoes in Darkness
Precipice: The Literary Anthology of Write on Edge (Volume 2)
Not Without My Father (Fall 2014)