Do writers only live in three places?
In addition to writing novels, I pen a weekly book column for two Louisiana newspapers plus a corresponding blog. It’s called Louisiana Book News and, like its title, I focus on Louisiana authors and/or books set in the Bayou State.
So, when I receive book catalogs from publishers, I scan their pages for both. In the process, I’ve discovered that a lot of authors live in New England, New York or Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Seriously, it’s uncanny how many there are. Either there’s something magical in the water of these places or once a writer hits a best-selling list they are required to move to one of the three.
Okay, I get that Washington and New England are gorgeous states with balmy summers and dramatic coastlines — even if the water is frigid cold. I always dreamed of wearing a cardigan sweater, drinking my coffee in an Adirondack chair on the deck of a beach-side cottage while penning novels worthy of Stephen King. And New England is close to New York City, so I get that too, plus authors who live in the city generally rave about the vibrant ambience of the nation’s largest metropolis.
My hometown of New Orleans attracts its fair share of authors but usually those are outsiders who visit the city, fall in love with its quirky, colorful residents and culture unique to the rest of the world and move to the city despite the brutal heat, humidity and occasional hurricane. (That's me braving the hot summer at the edge of the Mississippi River.)
But where are those writers who live in remote places like Waterproof, Louisiana, known for a headline that read, “Waterproof man drowns”? Or Whittier, Alaska, where everyone lives in one building? How about Hell, Michigan?
There are remote hotspots such as Oxford, Mississippi, where William Faulkner and John Grisham penned their stories. I’ve sampled the water there in the hopes of aiding my writing talent and am waiting for the New York Times to call. Or Salinas, California, home to one of my favorite writers, John Steinbeck. I’ve lived in Bakersfield, California, while working at the newspaper there, a town that was once the inspiration for Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.” Drank lots of that water too.
I’ve often thought about what I would say when I’m on the “Ellen” show — this is what writers do, imagine themselves on talk shows, usually when no one’s in the house and we’re speaking the words out loud. While on “Ellen,” do I mention that I’m from Old Jefferson, Louisiana, a boring suburb of New Orleans or just say New Orleans, which is way cooler? Or how about Lafayette, where I live now, the heart of Cajun Country? That’s cool, although when people ask where I live I usually have to add, “It’s two hours west of New Orleans.”
None of this really matters, though. By the time I’m on the “Ellen” show I’ll be rich. So, I’ll be the new resident of Bainbridge Island, Washington.