The Story Behind Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins

Inspiration. It incites us to take risks. To follow our dreams. To try unreachable things. What did you do the last time you were inspired? Think about it. I’ll wait.

Not Without My Father 2See? Inspiration drives us to embrace our crazy. And no one is crazier than I am. I decided to undertake a 444-mile endurance walk on a highway at the age of forty-three.

With my eighty-year-old father as my wingman.

And I’m NOT athletic.

What could possibly drive a grown woman who should know better to hike through sleet, hail, tornado warnings, torrential rains and gale-force winds? Especially when I had a loving husband and a decent life?

I decided to walk the 10,000-year-old Natchez Trace to launch my debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. Four hundred forty-four miles of paved highway from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. A trek through thousands of years of history.

Few people have walked the Trace in our lifetime. I thought it would be cool to be one of the few. Plus, I knew the undertaking would convince readers to buy my novel. It would fly into online shopping carts and leap from bookstore shelves. The stunt would make me a star.

I’m an idiot.

Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace chronicles how much of an idiot I am, what inspiration can do to a human being. I lived with my dad for five weeks.

Five weeks of his gas. Thirty-six days of self-scratching and the sleep apnea machine. Untold instances of hearing the same story for the five billionth time, because Dad never stops talking. Even when my feet were split open and bloody. Especially when my muscles clenched and refused to take me another step. Taking that walk to launch a novel was the stupidest thing I’d ever done.

Until it wasn’t.

We all love people who aggravate the crap out of us. We mean to spend time with them, but it’s easy to make excuses because LIFE. Before we know it, those people are gone, and our plans evaporate into “I wish I had.”

I wrote Not Without My Father to encourage everyone to turn “I wish I had” into “I’m glad I did,” to grab a loved one and Make a Memory before it’s too late.

Close your eyes and think of a person, someone with whom you need to Make a Memory. Read Not Without My Father. Find all kinds of inspiration.

Who knows? You might be inspired to have an incredible adventure with someone you love. And if you do, I hope you’ll tell me about it. Send your Make a Memory stories to mystories(at)andrawatkins(dot)com.


Andra Watkins 4Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.

Her latest book is the memoir, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.

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