For the last year and a half I have been obsessed with the violence in Mexico and the cartel-fueled drug wars. There is a character in my new novel named Violeta. She lives in the midst of the blood drenched chaos and I felt I had to be familiar with the horror of her day-to-day life so that as I could write her story. I have spent a lot of time down on the border, interviewed people whose lives have been affected, visited the sites of savage brutality. I start each morning with the Mexican blogs where I read about unspeakable atrocities and look at gory photos. Mass graves keep popping up all over the country in which 20, 30, 70 tortured bodies are discovered. At first I was able to keep my boundary intact. The crimes committed against innocent people in Mexico were upsetting but they were happening in a foreign country—not here in my life. I was safe. But slowly the reality of Violeta’s life started to color the way I looked at the world. Everyday I viewed pictures of headless bodies and crying families. I read accounts of barbarous torture and saw that the cartels were engaged in a monstrous competition, each group trying to out do the other in order to prove that they were most fierce and therefore most powerful. I got depressed. Was this the end of western civilization, as we know it? Had human nature devolved to such a level that we were slaughtering each other over drugs and money? I decided to take a look at history in order to put things in perspective.