My dad was a high school football coach, and every time he had a winning season, we moved to a bigger place. I lived in Spur, Munday, De Leon, Abilene. I was a football player until I got hurt during my freshman year. At one practice I ended up at the bottom of a pile, and I had to have my left kidney removed. Off the field, though, I always loved English. When I was little, I wrote stories in the form of cartoons. My mother was a schoolteacher, and she always wanted to be a writer herself. My theory is that before the women’s movement took hold, sons wanted to fulfill their mother’s unrealized—and perhaps unrealizable—ambitions. She raised me with the idea that writers were the great heroes of the world, and I wanted to be my mother’s hero.

Writer Aaron Latham was born in Spur and lived in Texas until he entered high school. While working for Esquire magazine, he wrote about Gilley’s nightclub and mechanical-bull rider Dew Westbrook in a story that became the basis for the film Urban Cowboy. Latham’s second novel, Code of the West (Simon and Schuster), will be published in April.