Not too long ago, P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes — both accomplished writers, directors, and producers — followed a few friends and moved from Palm Springs to Mérida. We caught up with them while they were at a rented beach house working on their respective projects.
What first attracted you to Mérida?
We have long carried a fantasy about living in Mexico, and about 15 years ago, we were talking about it with an actress who was in a TV show I (David) was directing. She said she was from Mérida and we should really consider the Yucatán. It stayed with us. And last year, not one but three friends all bought here, boom, boom, boom — therapist Brian Mahan [see page 10], artists Angel Chen and her boyfriend Jeff Colson, and then Trey Speegle’s amazing project transforming a ruin into a paradise inspired us to come look. We came for five days in January 2021, saw 20 houses and settled on what is now Casita Galore.
Now that you’re in Mérida, has your creative process changed?
It took a few months to adjust to the local sense of tranquilo. Once you allow yourself to slow down, it’s hard to go back. Yet, our creative process remains more or less the same. We still need to get away and focus, which is why we rented a beach house in nearby Chicxulub Puerto for the hot summer months. We both tend to work best in two shifts after we slowly get going around 11 and then again after lunch. At five, our dogs won’t allow us a moment’s peace until we walk and feed them. At that point, we are usually done for the day.
There’s so much to do here, just as in L.A. and Palm Springs. How is it different?
What impressed us even more than the architecture was that there is a growing community of creative people here. Palm Springs, being an English-language community, has more for us to do “out” — concerts, plays, movies, exhibits. Here, we find we spend most of our social time doing dinners and creating stronger connections with all the new friends we have been making. There’s culture, of course, and it’s exciting because it’s historical, which honestly is bringing a new perspective to our writing. Palm Springs is very immersed in pop culture. We loved it. And we still love it. But it is very inspiring to change your daily references so completely.
Do you find yourself more or less productive living in Mérida?
We have found Mérida to be a divine influence on our creativity. Living in Centro, where the buildings are hundreds of years old and the downtown still buzzes every day with locals coming and going, reminds us of New York in the ’80s. High and low coexist seamlessly, and street life is remarkably authentic. In a town that has been exploding with culture for centuries, it’s hard not to be inspired and productive. You just have to give yourself over to the unpredictable Yucatán moon.
Do you have animals with you now, and did you bring them down from California?
We brought our two lady pit bulls from Palm Springs — Fido Galore and Oopsydaisy, the same rescues who are referenced in the acknowledgments of 99 Miles. They are excellent travelers. We’ve crossed the U.S. by car with them twice. We finished the “99 Miles, 99 Cities” book tour last summer in Houston, where we hopped a flight and brought the girls over the Gulf. Commercial airlines won’t take what they call “bully breeds,” and crossing the border by car with them was too nerve-wracking of an idea. So part of our budget for moving here was that final chartered jet. The grrrls came to Mexico in style, and they are committed to living out their days here with us.
What projects are you working on now? What can we expect next?
David — I am writing the sequel to 99 Miles From L.A. called 24 Hours from Tulsa. Both are song titles, and where Palm Springs is indeed that distance from the big city, it turns out that Tulsa is a full day’s drive if you power through from Mexico City. Without giving too much away, 99 ends with one of the characters crossing the border and disappearing into Mexico. Here I am, so it made sense to pick the story up where it left off. I write hard-boiled crime fiction, so, you know, while both 99 and 24 are autobiographical between the lines, the storyline is a bit more dramatic!
Todd — I have embarked on my first novel, I Kissed Andy Warhol, a story of the last days of disco in New York, when the city was at its most chaotic yet wildly exciting. I actually did kiss Andy Warhol at Studio 54 and scared the crap out of him. Now, I’m creating a fiction around the guy I was, living in New York, as it evolves from the bohemian creative epicenter into the monied, elite, and gentrified mecca it became. ′
P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes are at work on a new website that will offer an archive and history of their entire careers. It’s still under development at EbHuCo.com.