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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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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Living with History

In the summer of 1967, I was a college student in Atlanta looking for a summer rental before heading off to Navy boot camp. A classmate steered me to a place called the Windsor House near the corner of Peachtree and Tenth Streets. Thoroughly no-frills, it was nowhere near as grand as its name, but it fit my meager budget just fine. What pleased me most, however, was a jackpot provenance in a city with a dearth of historic sites. A small plaque by the front door proclaimed that this building was where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind!  I didn’t exactly meet her ghost, but it could hardly have been more colorful than my new neighbors. Windsor House turned out to be more like a rooming house than an apartment building, attracting the sort of...

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