As a writer, my most important value is authenticity. I am particularly concerned with creating an authentic sense of place and, equally, authentic characters. I know the limits of my imagination, and when I was thinking about A More Perfect Union, I knew I couldn’t write Johnny Watkins’s story without knowing where he grew up, what the cadences of his speech would be, what kind of experiences he might have had to shape him as a human being. Since he grew up in Barbados, off I went to Barbados. It was an invaluable trip, allowing me to move forward on the novel with a lot more confidence.