A big part of the inspiration for Junebug and the Gumbo Garden was my desire to give my oldest son literature that would not only capture his imagination, but would also allow him to visualize himself in the shoes of the main character. I wanted it to be relatable and familiar to him, built against a background of cultural references he would understand. Junebug’s family, his mother, Gina, his father, Greg, Sr., and his Grandma Pearl, are, in part, reflections of our family unit. While Gina teases and dotes on Junebug, his father manages to be both firm and loving. The two of them articulate their expectations of Junebug, that he has responsibilities within their home, and that he demonstrates respect and kindness to others, as Junebug does with Miss Gautier and in their home. My hope is that these positive references both reflect and encourage the communal values that have sustained my family through the years.