Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Most of my books are inspired by a character, but Mister and Me was inspired by the setting. Fourteen years ago my dad took me to see Longleaf. It was a sawmill town located outside of Forest Hill, Louisiana.

Today you can walk freely around there because the town has been preserved as a historical site. But that day my dad and I ignored the "No Trespassing" signs and wandered through the property. It was as if someone had turned off a switch. The sawmill had closed some thirty years before, but lumber and tools remained untouched in the mill. Cups and saucers were stacked on the counter in the company store as if waiting for coffee and old men's stories.

A year later I was writing my own stories. After finishing my first book, I wanted to return to Longleaf to write an adult epic. I did return, and when I arrived home there was a story burning inside me. But it was not an epic for adults. It was a simple story about a child whose widowed mother starts dating a logger. Once again, I learned that the journey you set out for is not always the destination you end up at. And thank goodness for that.

(pictures above: Inside the sawmill and a front view of the company store)

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