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Because I spent my earliest growing up years along the banks of the Niagara, I have an affinity for rivers. Im fascinated with the rising and falling of their water levels, I love the movement of their currents, and I respect their power. Until I was ten, I lived on an island between the United States and Canada, just off East River Road, which hugged the Niagara a few miles north of the falls, where the water was deep and the current was strong enough to capsize a medium-sized boat. I could stand at the edge and watch the sticks I threw disappear down spinning suck holes. All the earliest warnings I heard were related to the river: Don't get near that river. Boats disappear in it, children end up drowned.

Naturally, as a child, my response to the warnings was equal parts fascination and fear, so that I spent hours exploring the rivers banks. When I moved to western Massachusetts, and walked along the Connecticut River, I felt as if Id discovered an old friend-one that could nourish me but that also had the power to destroy. The seed for the fictional story in The River Road came from an incident I had heard of a few years earlier, involving a young man who had taken some drugs and, surrounded by his friends, jumped from a bridge. I became interested in the fact that all actions have consequences. This book was a turning point for me, because it reflected my larger questions surrounding morality, and the fact that ones decisions end up forming a world that is often a tangled web of consequences.


The books title felt appropriate, as I had spent so many hours while writing it walking along riverbanks and driving down roads that followed the Connecticut River. Much of my research involved the search for what my daughters called a killer bridge. I found it in the French King, with its view of the mountains, its great height, and the depth of the water beneath it. I also spent hours in a legal library, connected to the local courthouse, where I read briefs from numerous court cases and listened to the generous explanations of the lawyers I encountered. Like all my novels, The River Road is a work of the imagination, but research grounded it in the real world, one where rivers are both beautiful and dangerous and where every action has resulting consequences.   
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