Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The (New) Southern Gothic


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Have you ever lived in the South? I lived in kinda-south, Atlanta, for five years, and it was eye-opening. Yes, Atlanta itself was hip and stylish--but behind the scenes, a few blocks away and then a few miles away and then even farther away, there was a surprise at every turn. In 1980, (before it was a cliché) I did a long series of TV stories called Main Street, where every Monday I’d close my eyes and point to a place on the map of Georgia—and then my photographer and I would go explore. And do features on whatever we found.
I could tell you stories.
And today so will the wonderful Emily Carpenter. Her intense new book, Until The Day I Die, is one of the most surprising thrillers I’ve ever read. Just when you think you know what it’s about—whoa. A surprise at every turn.
Where did her writing brain come from? The south.   




The (New) Southern Gothic
  
If you were awake for any length of time in high school English Lit class, you were surely the recipient of a basic primer on Southern Gothic and its full list of regulars. William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Zora Neale Hurston—they are the foremothers and fathers of the genre of outcasts, broken dreams, and deeds done in the swampy, mosquito-infested darkness.

They are my foremothers and fathers too, and when I read their books, something in my soul recognizes a sort of indefinable, DNA-level kinship.

But today’s South is no longer the South of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. We have new players on the scene who are writing a new style of gothic. They depict the modern South, those former puddles and pockets of isolated oddities, adapting to the information age. They show the people and places stretched and expanded in unexpected directions by that great equalizer, the internet. I, for one, rejoice. I love seeing the genre continue, but to do it in a new way, transforming into something even more interesting and relevant.

As our accents have lost their dips and curves and lilting notes, our horizons have expanded beyond the tales our grandparents told us. And yet, there are still to be found, in Alabama and Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana, small pockets of the old people and the old ways. Our older generations—and some of our younger ones too—do still yearn for some ghost of the past to return. But in the end, we know better. We’ve seen too much to really believe it would be wise to return.

The new South is still a place of mystery, elegance, and soul. Still one of violence, death, and grotesqueries. A place where, as Mr. Faulkner put it, “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.” 

There is tension here, there always will be, between the classes and races, between the high-handed and the downtrodden. In the words of Jamie Kornegay, “There is God and the Devil, standing in the muddy, snake-swarmed baptismal river, holding hands.” The chief difference being, these events now typically take place at an open-air shopping malls and mega churches housed in converted warehouses.

I like that contrast, and I use it in all of my books to varying degrees. But here are a few of those markers that I consider to be the enduring hallmarks of the New Southern Gothic style:

Old houses, old farms and old churches, all falling into disrepair. Sagging porches, leaking roofs, mold and rot and ivy choking their walls, their very existence is a memorial of the past and a warning for the future.

Old-time religion—the real, the not-so-real, and the very, very bad. Everyone has been steeped in church-going down here but shaking off the shackles of guilt and superstition—and believing there is Someone who, in the End, may punish their misdeeds—informs all the characters actions.

Race—whether or not the story directly addresses the relationships between the races, the subject still settles over every story set in the South like a thick blanket of humidity. Whether the characters true attitudes are revealed directly or indirectly, their deep-seated biases are usually revealed by what they do and say. Or don’t.

Secrets—hidden skeletons, twisted confidences, nasty knowledge that must be kept in the family, the only place these things are safe. Of course, New England and Midwestern families have their secrets too. But Southerners serve up their secrets with a special sauce, the kind that packs a kick as it’s going down. It’s something about the genial way they don’t try all that hard to hide what they’ve done. There’s a bit of a wink and a nod, a slap on the back that says they know you understand why they did what they had to do. Why, the sheriff understood too.

A new crop of authors is melding the traditional Southern Gothic aesthetic with elements of fantasy, humor, and horror, and I get practically giddy when I realize I’m in the capable hands of a Southern writer who’s taking me for a gothic ride. Joshilyn Jackson, Charlaine Harris, Lori Roy, M.O. Walsh, Tananarive Due, and Kimberly Brock are some of my recent favorites and inform my personal take on the genre in so many ways. Hewing to the tenants of true Southern Gothic, these writers are pushing the boundaries of the category, telling updated stories for a South that’s ever-changing and yet somehow always the same. 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  So thought-provoking! And you are right, so evocative. Reds and readers—have you ever lived in the South? Visited ? Wondered? Let us know! And who are your favorite Southern writers? And one lucky commenter will win UNTIL THE DAY I DIE!

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From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls comes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.
If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…
Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.
Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.
  
Emily Carpenter is the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of suspense novels, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, The Weight of Lies, Every Single Secret, and the forthcoming Until the Day I Die, which Publishers Weekly calls “chilling…shocking.” After graduating from Auburn with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, she moved to New York City. She’s worked as an actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant for the CBS shows, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family. You can visit Emily at emilycarpenterauthor.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

101 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new book, Emily. I’m looking forward to finding out exactly what’s going on in Erin’s tech company.

    We lived in Alabama for ten years. Living in the south is a truly unique experience . . . .
    My favorite southern author? Harper Lee . . . .

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    1. Great choice! And wow, that must’ve been an experience…

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    2. I love her! And also Fannie Flagg! Have you been to Monroeville?

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    3. Sorry, we never visited Monroeville . . . .

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    4. It made me feel like I was standing in the middle of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

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  2. I live in Southern California. Doesn't that count as the south? No? I didn't think so.

    Very interesting post to read. Not sure I have read much in the genre, new or old, and I certainly haven't lived there enough to have a true understand of what would go into making a good Southern Gothic. Obviously, I should fix that.

    Congrats on the new book.

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    1. You are hilarious! No, silly, Southern California doesn’t count. Though it does have its own charm!

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    2. Thanks, Mark!! And come on down to the REAL south sometime soon!

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  3. So many sayings about the South that are true and lend themselves to great stories. "Here in the South, we don't hide our crazy. We parade it around on the front porch and give it a sweet ice tea." And, some of that crazy is slyness disguised as crazy. The double-edged sword of "bless your heart" can mean the very opposite, or it can actually be a nice thing. The language, the expressions, are a roadmap to those underlying secrets that can go back generations. And, don't get me started on the familial relations that still control and guide lives. The South is a treasure trove of camouflaged passions that can lead to some dark places and some great set-ups for mystery stories.

    I grew up in a town on the Ohio river that had as its slogan, "The Gateway to the South." Being halfway between Cincinnati, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, my hometown of Maysville, Kentucky might not seem like the likely gateway to the South, but we were actually quite Southern in our approach to life. After moving to the western part of the state when I got married, I realized just how southern it had been, because western Kentucky is not.

    I love reading Southern writers or stories about the South, but I prefer the more modern stories where there has been a recognition that the South of old was not such a nice place. As you say, Emily, "We’ve seen too much to really believe it would be wise to return (to that old South)." Although, the sweet tea and the honey and darling and minding your manners are all things we still enjoy. I am so happy to discover you here on the Reds, Emily, and you can bet your britches that Until the Day I Die is going on my TBR list.

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    1. so interesting Kathy about the big difference between Ohio and Kentucky! I'm used to thinking of the South as Georgia and Alabama but this makes sense!

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    2. Oh, Cathy! What a wonderful essay in itself! Thank you!

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    3. BET YOUR BRITCHES!!! I love it!! Yes that’s what’s so cool about the contemporary stuff - it takes the sordid past into account!

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  4. I have lived in Florida, but I think it was probably a bit like Hank's Atlanta experience. Unless you ventured into the rural areas, it didn't really feel like the South. And Emily, your book sounds fantastic!

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    1. Agreed! Once you step outside the city limits, it is a completely and astonishingly different world.

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    2. Yes, Florida is it’s own unique planet, I think!

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  5. That book blurb gave me shivers. I've only visited southern Florida and New Orleans (Bouchercon!), but you can bet I want to read your book, Emily.

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    1. You will love it! It’s extraordinarily surprising.

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    2. Oh thanks! I do hope you like it! And come back and visit!

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  6. The book sounds fascinating, Emily, and I love all your titles! We had a discussion on here a few days back about what makes a good title, and I think "Burying the Honeysuckle Girls," or "Every Single Secret" ought to be textbook examples of the best titles out there.

    I have lived on the fringes of the south--not the true Deep South of the Confederacy, but the insular South of the Missouri Ozarks, and the semi-removed South of near west Texas. Hillbilly culture and Cowboy culture are maybe only kissin' cousins to the Deep South, although we're still fighting little battles over the Civil War deep in the heart of Texas. But a couple of years ago I spent a few days in a small town in a part of Texas that was more firmly in plantation country, and after a while it began to creep me out. People were nice and all, but I clearly was not From There, and I began to see subtle signs that I probably didn't want to be from there, either. The part of rural Texas where I had lived happily for 25 years was more about surviving the Dust Bowl, and the Dallas area, where I live now, is all about making money and forgetting your rural roots. The place where I briefly vacationed was about something darker. That's what good Southern Gothic is all about.

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    1. Gigi— oh that… Is creepy! And it sounds like fodder for a book, don’t you think?

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    2. You are hitting the nail on the head. There can be some real scary undercurrents for folks who aren’t over the loss of a war. Glad you’re not there any more!

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  7. I lived in North Carolina for three years, and part of my heart has lived in the South for as long as I can remember. I may "be" East Coast (as someone once told me), but the cadence and longing of the South have long called to me. John Grisham, John Hart, Tom Franklin, Susan Boyer, Kathryn Wall ... these authors come to mind when I think of mysteries set in the South. Though I can't not mention Kathryn Stockett's THE HELP and the movie Steel Magnolias--not mysteries, but both bring me south. (I also love LynDee Walker's Nichelle books, set in Richmond, Virginia, which is the South but the series doesn't strike me as southern.) Anyway, Until the Day I Die sounds great. Love the cover.

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    1. Oh, Barb, such a terrific roster of authors! So agree.

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    2. Thank you! Steel Magnolias is one of my all-time favorites!

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  8. I'm also delighted to see Emily Carpenter here! I have a good friend who has been urging me to read each and every one of Emily's books - especially her new one. So, I shall. Ah, the South. Well, as a lifelong resident of Texas, I understand the South and also don't in a way. As Gigi says, we're on the edges. East Texas certainly absorbed a lot of the plantation culture and also the way of speech. West Texas is a different sort of place. I think the woods of East Texas add to the 'Deep South' part of things and also the nearness of our neighbor Louisiana. Steel Magnolias also came to my mind as well as the funny TV show, Designing Women. I can still hear the character of Julia Sugarbaker talking about how, in the South, the crazy people were right out in the parlor. Ha! Probably my favorite current Southern writer, Greg Iles. Love his books.

    Best wishes on your new book, Emily! Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Oh, my husband is hooked on Greg Iles, too. And I am I the only person who has never seen steel magnolias? I am worried it will make me too sad.

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    2. Did you know I got to meet Dixie Carter once? She was LOVELY. And listen to your friend, she gives wonderful advice! Hahaha!

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  9. Hi, y'all! I am officially a Southerner: born in New Orleans, lived in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and, for the last 37 years, Alabama. I have to confess, though, that "my Mama was a Yankee". Honestly, that is something people in the South used to pay attention to as much as if she had had a third eye in the middle of her forehead! When I was a teenager at summer camp out in the country in middle Tennessee, I was accused of "talking like a Yankee." I think that was not just a function of place, but of time - it was nearly 50 years ago. Now, people are more mobile and accents aren't so much the thing that makes you an outsider.

    Needless to say, I grew up with Southern writers. Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Alice Walker, John Grisham, Pat Conroy, Clyde Edgerton, Beth Henley, Ferro Sams, Robert Penn Warren and many more. Obviously, not all mysteries, but Southern writing is unique no matter the genre. So, bless your hearts and I hope y'all have a nice day!

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    1. Mary! I can just hear you saying that :-)

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    2. Oh I LOVE Clyde Edgerton! And my mom used to say people were Yankees too. She’d whisper it!!!

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  10. Though I grew up in NJ, I spent four years in Tennessee and felt like I fit right in--whatever that says! I've also spent lots of time in Florida, which is partly southern and partly its own very weird thing. But I do love southern writers and looking forward to your book!

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    1. Thanks Lucy, hope you’ll feel at home as you read!

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  11. I have just become a fan of Emily Carpenter, if only for her use of the phrase "But Southerners serve up their secrets with a special sauce." That spoke to me!

    I have never lived in the South, but my mother grew up in Louisiana, and I believe some of her Southern mindset was woven into my upbringing.

    There are several Southern writers I adore -- not Southern Gothic, so much, but definitely Southern. Those include Margaret Maron, Anne George, Tina Whittle, and Julie Smith. Honestly, I am always on the lookout for new Southern authors, because they are right up there with British authors (or authors of British stories, like Deb) on my list of favorites. I will now add Emily, of course. Other recommendations would be welcome!

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    1. Thanks, Susan! And I love Tina Whittle, too!

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    2. I'd forgotten about Ann George! She was lovely, wasn't she?

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    3. Susan, if your mom’s from La then your special sauce is HOT SAUCE!!! Joshilyn Jackson is an all-time favorite too.

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    4. So funny! That’s why we are all… Saucy.

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  12. I lived in Atlanta for 30 years and watched it change from a big city with a small town atmosphere to a big city that tore down a wonderful old Carnegie library to put up another ugly glass box building. I loved Atlanta and then didn't. Now we're in the mountains of North Carolina and have learned that even though we're in the south, southern mountain culture is very different than southern culture per se.

    Southern Lit is still my favorite genre, add a little Gothic and I am solidly sold.

    I do have, however, a gripe about some of the southern stereotypes that are still used by some southern writers and it bothers me that they're still a thing - ridiculously overdone southern accents for one thing. Anyone wanting to read and learn about today's south would do well reading Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott series. She gets it just right, IMO.

    I loved reading this piece by Emily Carpenter and can't wait to read the book. "The new South is still a place of mystery, elegance, and soul. Still one of violence, death, and grotesqueries." This knocked me out.


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    1. Thank you and I HEAR YOU about overdone accents. Always drives me up the wall!!!

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    2. Yes, it knocked me out too! What do you all (:-)) think is the best way to indicate a southern accent in dialogue?

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    3. I'm a true believer in "y'all" ...

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  13. I did live in the South for one year. In NC was teaching high school home economics. I would dearly love to go back and visit or maybe even stay. I do love Southern writers and have a lot of favorites, Margaret Maron being a favorite favorite!

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    1. I need to check her out! Lots of folks mentioning her...

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    2. Yes, Margaret is an absolute treasure!

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  14. Fifteen years in Alpharetta, Georgia, during the years a peaceful farm community was turned into subdivisions.

    After our move north, we visited Natchez on our drive to New Orleans. We walked down a street lined with crepe myrtles, heard the mocking birds chortle and sing, and were greeted by townspeople after an afternoon church service. It felt like home.

    Eudora Welty. I love her sass and grit.

    Congratulations on your new release!

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    1. Eudora is a queen. And I’m just a minute or two from Alpharetta. That and Milton are different worlds now.

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    2. I lived in Atlanta, right at the corner of Virginia and Highland. Do you guys know that? I mean y’all?

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  15. My whole upbringing was in South Louisiana, so close to the Gulf I have webbed feet. My mother was the first generation to learn English in school to replace the Acadian French spoken at home. (This whole "English is spoken in America" is not a new topic.) I have siblings in Texas and Georgia, cousins in Mississippi and Alabama, and my husband is from Tennessee. I've got a platinum Southern Card, I do believe, and will bless the heart of anyone who argues with me. You will get the bayou out of me when you pull it from my cold, dead hands.

    You can't beat Anne George and her Southern Sisters mystery series for capturing the South, and Ellen Byron does a great job capturing the contemporary feel. I learned to write a twist from Kate Chopin. Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, Jill McCorkle, and of course the master, Ernest Gaines, taught me how to write Southern characters who are not caricatures. Your character name Erin Gaines jumped right out at me.

    I can't wait to read your book, Emily. Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks Ramona! I miss the Gulf so bad. Haven’t been in a couple years...

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    2. Hank, maybe not. I don't have an accent.

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  16. I've never spent any significant time in the South. I don't think going throug the Atlanta airport to and from San Juan, or the few days of Bouchercon count. :) But the aura of Southern gothic secrets is so much different than the secrets of New England or the Midwest. There's something...ethereal about them.

    UNTIL THE DAY I DIE sounds like a fabulous addition to the tradition.

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  17. I love the South and I love Southern Gothic. I have to read this book (in all my spare time.) As a huge fan of Faulkner, Toni Morrison, and Flannery O'Connor, I recognize all those hallmarks of the genre and agree that the modern edge writers are exploring will keep this tradition alive for years to come.

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    1. Recently my dad told me he heard Faulkner speak at his college!! (He was writer in residence for a bit) My jaw dropped.

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    2. Oh, yes, Kris! In your spare time! Let us know about that :-)

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  18. Emily, Congratulations on your new book! I'm looking forward to reading it and have long loved Southern Gothic, especially stories by Flannery O'Connor. And for fans of Faulkner's "Rose for Emily" I highly recommend John Biguenet's modern take on the theme in his story "Rose". Your list of the hallmarks of Southern Gothic is spot on, and I'll keep it close at hand while writing from my own peculiar Southern sensibility. Many thanks!

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  19. Not only do I live in Atlanta now but I was born here, with ancestors on my mother's side who settled here in the late 18th century if not earlier. My father's people (as we say here) came Denmark. Heck, I even took a semester course in college called Southern Literature. Robert Penn Warren has always been one of my favorites and who can resist Eudora Welty's Why I Live at the P. O. I was brought up on Faulkner and O'Connor. I lived in France for years, studying and teaching but the South is in my bones. Oxford and Andalusia are must visits. You are correct; Margaret Maron does get it right and Jossilyn Jackson is a wonderful new voice.
    UNTIL THE DAY I DIE sounds terrific, covered in Spanish moss and humidity.

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    1. Robert Penn Warren! Exactly. Life-changing.

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    2. Why I live at the PO is one of my all time favorites too!

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  20. Congratulations on the book, Emily! I grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and also spent a lot of time in Wampee(!!), South Carolina -- both completely inform me and my writing. Flannery O'Connor is my idol and, in addition to the wonderful writers mentioned above (I'm with you on Lee Smith, Ramona), I love Walker Percy and Tim McLaurin.

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    1. Oh, Chapel Hill! So beautiful. Incredible. Did you realize that when you were living there?

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    2. Wampee wins for best name of a town ever.

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  21. Welcome Emily! Love the description of your new book: "a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy" - right up my alley. I'm a huge fan of Southern Gothic.I'd add to your list of moderns: Joe R. Lansdale. And I just scored an arc of Joshilyn Jackson's forthcoming NEVER HAVE I EVER.

    I ever so gingerly set my last book in Beaufort, South Carolina, gingerly because I'm not southern. You're right about all those elements.

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    1. I’m sure you nailed Beaufort! Can’t wait to read it! I adore Joshilyn Jackson, so talented and unbelievably kind person as well!

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  22. Thanks, Emily, for visiting Jungle Reds. Does Texas count as growing up in the South? My oldest sister married a man from Montgomery, Alabama and has turned into a real Southerner. Her name is Mary Catherine, and we've always called her Cathy, but her husband, a real Southern gentleman calls her Mary Catherine and calls me Sistah Sue. My favorite Southern writers are Pat Conroy and Anne George ~

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    1. Don't you love it? My Louisiana father-in-law always called me Miss Pat.

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    2. Oh Texas counts! Come on into the fold, girl!

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  23. Oakham! Emily! Cannot wait to chat… A bit of a crazy morning around here, :-) back soon!

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  24. Emily, your new book sounds so interesting--it is now on my TBR list. As for Southern authors, some of my favorites are Fannie Flagg, Beth Hoffman, Dorothea Benton Frank, Ellen Byron, Anne George, and Joshilyn Jackson.

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    1. test second. My post went poof!

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    2. Make sure you are signed into Google, I think that’s the problem…

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  26. Emily's book sounds intriguing. I grew up and live in Texas. Do people consider that south or a whole other thing entirely? Southern writers I have enjoyed include Harper Lee, Fannie Flagg, Tennessee Williams, and Ellen Byron.

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    1. Good question! And I wonder what others say. I think I consider Texas… West. Is that wrong?

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    2. Texas is the south but it’s own world. Does that make sense?

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  27. I love the south. Grew up on a lot of buscuits and gravy. And omg my mom made good wilted lettuce and pinto beans and cornbread. I have lived in Virginia ,Kentucky and North Carolina.
    Visited south Carolina and Tennessee and Georgia.
    Authors i love are Rick Braggs, Rita Mae Brown and Jesse Stuart.
    Look forward to reading your book.
    Thanks for the chance

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    1. Name is Teresa for this comment thought it went through

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    2. What is wilted lettuce? So lovely to see you here :-)

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    3. Hank, wilted lettuce has a hot vinegar dressing, with bacon. It's yummy.

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  28. Margaret Maron, Joshilyn Jackson, Fannie Flagg, Pat Conroy--all favorite Southern writers.

    We live a mile and a half from the Mason-Dixon Line, on the northern side, and I have a similar experience to Kathy Reel's. Growing up in the same county highlighted in Hillbilly Elegy, I saw a fluidity between the Southern and Northern mindsets, which was made more stark when I married my first husband. His family was all from mountain areas in Kentucky and Tennessee, places where, as he put it, people had "more pride than sense". That's a different attitude from the South of say, Charleston, where my youngest daughter went to college (The Citadel--a real Southern experience).

    Personally, it makes me glad to see these attitudinal differences, just as it delights me to hear and recognize regional accents. We have such a wonderful diversity in the US, and as we lose these nuanced differences, I think we lose a richness of culture. The same is true of the UK, and parts of Europe, where human beings are homogenizing themselves, losing language peculiarities and national identities. I'm sorry to see it, frankly.

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    1. Oh, Margaret Maron of course! And I adore Joshilyn Jackson — we signed it together once, and she is a dream.
      And my goodness, you have really experienced this for force. So fascinating.

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    2. My Mother always said tv ruined southern accents!

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  29. I have loved books by Karen white - tradd st series based in Charleston, sc are outstanding!

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    1. Oh, exactly! She’s magical, right? Am I thinking of the right one ?

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  30. I grew up in Texas, mainly, with a few years of Louisiana thrown into the mix. Texas takes in the South, the Southwest, and the West so it is part and parcel of all of them. It just depends what part of Texas one grows up in. I love all those influences which is why I am having so much trouble deciding where I want to move for our post-retirement. Southern writers who set their books in the South include Amanda Stevens, Maggie Toussaint, Tina Whittle, Shirley Ann Grau, Karen White, Margaret Maron, Charlaine Harris. I'm sure there's plenty more! I love the variety of people in the South and hope it never gets homogenized.

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    1. Yes, it’s funny to talk about “the south”. There are so many souths!

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    2. So many souths! This is why I can never stop writing about it!

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  31. I grew up in east Tennessee, with family that reached back to the DAR and a great aunt who told tales of hanging out down by the road and visiting with the travelers on the Trail of Tears. My ears were tuned with old English words and sayings made musical by the southern cadence. And life at times was almost more tradition and superstition than practicality. Yeah, I know the south. But hardly know it now when I go back. Am looking forward to reading Emily's book, although when I get a hankering for home, I always reach for Rick Bragg and his tales.

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    1. Oh, how fascinating, Jean! I would love to hear more about this! Have you written it all down somewhere?

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    2. “More tradition and superstition than practicality” - so well put!

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  32. Southern girl through and through. Northeast Alabamagrowing up and South Georgia for the last 30 years. Favorite authors: Pat Conroy, I read Beach Music over and over. Joshilyn Jackson, I met her at a BAM when she was promoting gods in Alabama and we talked and talked. I’ve loved all her books since. Karin Slaughter, the Grant County series hooked me and she’s never disappointed.

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  33. I grew up in a small south Texas town, and there were plenty of secrets that end up being not so secret after all. But one of my favorite books of all time, was A Southern Family by Gail Godwin. She wrote several others I loved as well. But this one stuck with me for decades and I re-read it every few years. She knew her stuff.

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