At the heart, or soul, of a Southerner (United States) is food, music, land, family. That’s a rough draft list off the top of my head. I’m a Georgia peach.
Today, the hubby and I were out and about in the Golden Isles (Georgia coastline) on Saint Simons Island. I was doing a bit of promotions for Lainey Cash, Book One. We stopped for lunch at a place that’s an ole fave of ours.
Southern Soul BBQ (btw, I’m not getting paid to blurb this place, just writing whatever comes out). It’s BBQ at a former gas station, in a roadside curve, rural-cool decor (you know, forks and spoons in Mason jars, license plates and old ad posters on the walls), scrumptious Brunswick stew.
Oh, do you know what Brunswick stew is? Hmm, how to tell you, if you don’t. One of those classic foods I simply take for granted around here. I’m looking it up, just a moment… From Google/Wiki- Brunswick stew is a dish generally involving a tomato base, local beans, veggies, and originally small game meat, though today often chicken, but usually smoked pulled pork. Yes, that’s it, and most families have their minor variations (yes or no to corn, yes or no to hot sauce, etc.), a handwritten treasured recipe from generations past, and Thanksgiving/Christmas stew-making, freezing-for-winter tradition.
Anyway, as I was sitting in a solid wood booth, surrounded by women in ball caps, men in blue jeans and Columbia shirts, and meat smoke, at Southern Soul, I thought to myself for the millionth time: Isn’t it neat how the things that define you- where you were born, how you were raised, what you eat, your go-to hot spots- pop up in your writing? Often, very unintentionally.
When I write, the primary intention is to portray characters and places that are as authentic as possible.
Lainey Cash is Southern. She’s from Mississippi. She grew up on a cotton farm. She and Jed, the rival/neighbor farmer across the road, eventually share the same heirloom recipe for Brunswick stew. They listen to Led Zeppelin and other old rock favorites. They adore and resent the same scenery. They lack family and long for a family.
Writing is the circle of life. Nineteen years after you pen a novel, you hold the newly-printed copy and think, Ah! That’s why that nugget is buried in there. Or maybe you sit at a chic barbecue place on a December day, sunny and 75, and think, Well, of course, Lainey Cash and Jed McCrae like Brunswick stew. Duh.
Food, music, land, family. Yep, that’s southern. That’s me. –Clare Cinnamon