Everywhere a writer turns, they hear,”write what you know.” This means exactly what it says. Of course, what I know is the South. There is something about the ways of the people here, our customs and habits, combined with a fierce love of family and tradition and unique heritage that I treasure. No matter where I might travel, through rich farmlands, or eclectic little townships, on into what I call “the big cities” (hello Charlotte, and my own hometown, Raleigh!) for me, there exists a timeless sense of southern charm, hospitality and graciousness.
In the South I know and love, porches with rocking chairs are as numerous as the dusty back roads lined with cotton, corn and tobacco fields. Somewhere off the beaten path I might spot a throw back in time, known as the old country store. Here is where I can still buy old fashioned candy from behind a wood and glass display case. (Mary Jane’s, BB Bats, and what are those funny peanut butter log things called? Peanut Butter Logs?) When it’s hot outside and I want a cold drink, I’ll sit on a worn stool, or prop myself against an old wooden counter and purchase a real soda fountain drink, or an orangeade. What’s an orangeade you might ask? Oranges, sliced in half, and placed onto a hand-press so the juice runs into a cup (or lemons if you prefer). The fresh squeezed juice is then combined with crushed ice and sugar water. I ask for a paper straw. Yes, the kind that’s red and white striped. I swear, an orangeade beats sweet tea. (sometimes)
In my debut book, THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, the setting is Alabama, with a brief visit to New Hampshire. I chose Alabama because it is a beautiful state, set in the Deep South, a place of wild beauty and resilient people. In this coming of age story, my young heroine Dixie is faced with the unthinkable, yet proves she’s got grit, determination, and a tenacity beyond her years.
In my new project, working title THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, I come back to my home state of North Carolina, and write about a region I love, set deep in Appalachian mountains, Jackson County, along the Tuckasegee River. Here life can be hard, yet gratifying. Using a historic event in 1940 about back to back hurricanes which came through the area, I tell the story of Wallis Ann Stamper, a resourceful, hard working fourteen year old girl, and her family, who struggle to overcome the hardships after everything they have is lost to the storm.