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Over the past twenty years Texas Monthly contributing editor Michael Ennis has written about F-16 jet fighters, Houston topless clubs, and the Dallas Apparel Mart. But what he’s focused on mostly is art, as he does in this month’s story about “outsider” artists (see “Folks,”). “I wanted to approach these people on their own turf and see what I could learn from them as human beings,” the 48-year-old Ennis says. “What you find out is that they are very sophisticated thinkers who have a clarity in looking at themselves and at the world that most of the rest of us don’t have.” Ennis, who has penned two works of historical fiction, Byzantium (Atlantic Monthly Press) and Duchess of Milan (Viking), and is at work on a third, found his dealings with the artists to be profoundly resonant. “I did a story about eighteen years ago where I met the Dalai Lama and spent the afternoon with him [“East Meets Wet,” Texas Monthly, November 1979]. Xmeah ShaEláReEl is probably the first person I’ve met since then who had that kind of totally serene spiritual conviction.”