I finished Fire Eater in February. I was reflecting on teaching in a public high school, remembering a period when we had rival gangs in our school. I went from being afraid on a daily basis to finding myself drawn into their lives, getting to know them, only to discover that gang members were real people who hurt, and bled, and went hungry, and loved, and lived much the way I lived when I was young. Fire Eater is the story of a middle aged woman, her heroin-addicted daughter, and the drug lord with whom they forge an unusual bond. Something a Hispanic student said to me once sparked the idea. He would join me in my hall supervision duty every day, and one day I asked him why. “You don’t know all the ways we look out for you,” he said. I tutored that student through his writing exam. He passed and gave me a crucifix which I kept in my ’05 Mustang for years. In May of this year, I learned that Fire Eater was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize. Three finalists were announced recently, and one will go on to publication via Cargo Publishing. Today is the last day you can download excerpts of all ten shortlisted novels free to your Kindle via Amazon. After that, I’m told there will be a charge. You can check out the first 3000 words of Fire Eater there as well as the fine work of the other finalists.