Lessons Amid the Spirit World Prompt Pre-Teen to Look at Life Differently

In Goodlife, Mississippi, lies a supernatural melting pot where heaven and hell, God and the devil, and life and death co-mingle. And in this seemingly small yet infinite world lives a young girl, pre-teen Mary “Myra” Boone, who pays visits to the sick and the shut-ins — some dead, some alive — and channels their individual stories in the new book My Neighbors, Goodlife, Mississippi.

A pure and original work from Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Eileen Saint Lauren, My Neighbors, Goodlife, Mississippi is a collection of 11 short stories so profound that it prompted Darkness Radio host Tim Dennis to quip: “Once you read it, you’re changed.”

Although the characters in My Neighbors, Goodlife, Mississippi are fictional, their stories seem very real — almost palpable — to Saint Lauren.

“I can feel the rhythm of the beat of their voices,” Saint Lauren said during a recent interview. “I think they come to me to finish their stories.”

In My Neighbors, Goodlife, Mississippi, Mary “Myra” Boone, a recurring character in Saint Lauren’s work, visits her neighbors and discovers a deeper meaning for life through the guiding truth found in the spirit world and learns early on that suffering can purify the soul. Each encounter involves a grotesque character or a horrific and bizarre act of revenge in the name of God and twisted love.

Myra’s neighbors, both Black and white, of the oppressive and often inhumane social climate of the 50s and 60s of Goodlife, Mississippi, knowingly and unknowingly seek retribution to exact some kind of justice for a severe injustice perpetrated upon them. Each story is too close to the truth of the era to be comfortable. Seen through the eyes of Myra Boone, they become life-shaping events.

Saint Lauren’s work often takes the reader to a supernatural place — holy and unholy — that provokes the question: Is this heaven or hell? Whatever the reader deems true will suffice because My Neighbors, Goodlife, Mississippi is a mixture of both.

About the Author

Eileen Saint Lauren was born in Hattiesburg and raised in the once two red-light town, Petal, Mississippi. She is an award-winning photojournalist, news and feature writer who worked early in her career as a commentator for Nebraska Public Radio and at Smith College Museum of Art. After graduating from Jones College in Ellisville, Mississippi, with an Associate of Arts Degree majoring in Journalism, she continued her education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in English. She then continued on with her education in creative writing at The Washington Center, Duke University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her hobbies are gourmet cooking, designing chandeliers, and creating flower arrangements. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

She is also the author of Southern Light, Oxford, Mississippi, a bestselling novel nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; and the author of Goodlife, Mississippi, a Finalist in the 2023 International Book Awards. Goodlife, Mississippi was sold in 10 countries.

For more information, visit eileensaintlauren.net, or follow the author on social media on Facebook @Eileen Saint Lauren and Instagram @eileensaintlauren