texasmonthly.com: When and how did the idea come up to do a story on the 75 things we love about Texas?
Christopher Keyes: It’s a concept that has come up in several story-idea meetings. For a while, we were lukewarm about the idea, only because there is a danger in producing a list of things that readers will expect. We didn’t want to green-light the idea until we were certain that there would be a surprising mix of items, and I think we absolutely achieved that.
texasmonthly.com: How did you compile the list?
CK: It was quite easy, actually. We sent out an e-mail blast to our staff writers, editors, and writers-at-large asking for ideas—personal picks on what they love about the state. There were no parameters beyond that. It could be a food or a place or a person or a concept, whatever it was that they loved. The ideas started coming in immediately, and from there, it was only a matter of paring it down to a manageable size. Though our original list included some 200 suggestions, we whittled it down to 75, a number that seemed to balance our desire for a lot of items and the ability to give our writers the room to really write something interesting for each one.
texasmonthly.com: Before you received any suggestions from writers, did you already have an idea of what you wanted to include?
CK: No, and that’s what I think makes the list so great. The choices in here weren’t created by a committee; rather, they’re very personal. Sarah Bird writes about loving humidity of all things. Evan Smith writes about a jazz song.