Most of us know the song “Midnight Special” by blues musician Huddie Ledbetter, aka Lead Belly. It’s actually an old tune that Lead Belly learned and made his own, including these lyrics:
If you ever go to Houston, boy, you'd better walk right.
And you better not squabble, and you better not fight,
Benson Crocker will arrest you, Jimmy Boone will take you down,
You can bet your bottom dollar, that you’re Sugarland bound.
Those words come directly from Lead Belly’s own experience as an inmate in a Sugar Land, Texas penitentiary. In Tammy Lynne Stoner’s debut novel, Sugar Land, the main character Miss Dara, a young woman growing up in a small 1920s Texas town, meets Lead Belly at that penitentiary, and discovers there’s more than one type of prison.
Tammy Lynne’s a Portland-based writer, born in Midland, Texas. She’s lived in 16 cities in three countries, working as a biscuit maker, forklift operator, gas station attendant, and college instructor, among other odd jobs. And her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals, including The Night, The Rain, and The River from Portland’s Forest Avenue Press. We welcomed Tammy Lynne to the KBOO studios to talk about Sugar Land.