of being my favorite first-person narrator. I read my first Wolfe
Book at age thirteen, Might As Well Be Dead.
Frances Parkinson Keyes -- her sprawling Louisiana
novels are a bit dated now and politically incorrect but her settings and
characters are highly memorable. (Clyde Batchelor of Steamboat Gothic is
the quintessential romance hero, in my humble opinion.)
Dixie Browning -- Back in the '80s, Dixie was the
first to inspire me to try my hand at writing romance. Most of Dixie's
novels that I read were set in the South, along the Atlantic coast, which
was a big attraction for me. It was doubly enjoyable because I could tell
Dixie was a Southerner and knew her setting and her people.
Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee -- Need I say more?
The South and Southerners ~ My Writing Inspiration
A Land of Legend, Song, and Hallowed, Heroic Memories
Why Southern fiction? The words of Edward Carmack
(1858-1908), Congressman, Senator and prominent journalist in Tennessee,
offer a an insightful place to start a discussion of my motives for writing
about the South and its people:
is a land that hs known sorrows. It is a land that has broken the ashen
crust and moistened it with tears, a land scarred and riven by the plowhare
of war and billowed with the graves of her dead, but a land of legend,
a land of song, a land of hallowed and heroic memories. To that land, every
drop of my blood, every fibre of my being, every pulsation of my heart
is consecrated forever. I was born of her womb, I was nurtured at her breast
and when my last hour shall come, I pray that I may lie upon her bosom
and be rocked to sleep within her tender and encircling arms.
Southern literature, has long been recognized as
a distinctive genre few other regions of the United States can claim, the
exception being the Western. A look at the genre and its writers
gives one a clue about the depth, breadth and richness of the vein of storytelling
ore that runs through the culture of the South.
The variety of locations and settings is equally
rich -- from mountains to seashore, great forests to desert to lush farmlands,
glittering cities to sleepy small towns to vast rural stretches.
The South boasts other elements that speak to its
uniqueness... its 160 or so spoken dialects and delightful Southernisms
. . .the cuisine -- sweet tea, tomato sandwiches, cornbread, fried chicken
(for that matter, fried anything), succulent seafood and spicy gumbo .
. . the flora -- live oaks draped with Spanish moss, ubiquitous pines,
creamy-blossomed magnolias and yucca, showy azaleas, sweet-smelling honeysuckle.
. . .
Then there's the history, the culture -- ten thousand
years of Indian civilization, European settlement, antebellum plantation
society, the pervasive influence of Christianity and tradition, and postbellum
economic oppression that lasted for generations. Throw in the hunting
and fishing, Sunday singings, college football extravaganzas, going to
mama'n'them's, the many distinctive music genres, renown hospitality and
much, much more, and you begin to see what makes Dixie a fascinating backdrop
for the storyteller's art.