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Georgia on My Mind

  I first read Gone with the Wind when I was sixteen and have reread it twice as an adult. I was totally captivated that first time, but later on I agreed with Margaret Mitchell that she was (I’m paraphrasing here) “no great author.” She did, however, have incomparable skills as a storyteller, an opinion shared with F. Scott Fitzgerald who said he lost the 1937 Pulitzer to Mitchell because of her “splendid narrative.” Indeed, few books offer such pure escapism and are so compulsively readable. It is a richly served story of the human will to survive told via a Georgia woman caught in the crosshairs of the Civil War. The book’s premise is deceptively simple and certainly nothing new. Girl meets boy and girl loses boy, and...

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Gumbo Weather

When readers ask about the prominence of food in my books about New Orleans, I always say I can’t imagine not writing about it. Food is as much a part of the city’s fabric as jazz, Mardi Gras and humidity, and I know from living there eleven years that when people aren’t eating they’re usually talking about it. The city has been a gustatory destination for well over two centuries, so when I began Creole Son about French painter Edgar Degas’s 1872-3 visit, I knew I had to include the local cuisine.   The Creoles famously loved to eat, and because Degas’s mother Celestine belonged to that particular ethnic group, it’s reasonable to assume he did too. As a well-educated Parisian of some means, he no doubt had a...

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Dixie Chicks Redux

Thirty odd years ago, during my Greenwich Village salad days, I was about to forget my dream of being published when I got a surprising call. “You’re Southern and you know history,” my agent said. “So how about writing some historical romances?” I initially bristled since I knew nothing about the genre, but it’s remarkable how poverty influences priorities.  Once contracts were signed, I began plotting. Since New Orleans was my favorite city, the setting was a no-brainer. As for my star-crossed lovers, Marie would have the raven hair and violet eyes of my favorite movie star and Morgan would be Welsh, based on my heritage and not Mr. Burton btw. The year was 1840 as the Old South entered its Golden Age of wealth, elegance and...

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