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  • Writer's pictureToby


I love that term, hyper-local. As if local was not close enough. So much of my writing is focused on regional community. I like writing about "locals." They have always been missing from the history books I've read. Their stories rarely, if ever get told among the "heroes" (who are often just the victors who get to write the stories). In promoting Dark Roux, it is the conversations with locals that make it all worth it.

I have only a decade left before I have lived outside of Louisiana as long as I have lived in it. However, all of my characters are still in Louisiana, or at least of it. What is it about that place that keeps such a hold over me and my imagination?

Last night I had drinks with a dear friend who told me of his trip to Pakistan, the place of his parents' birth. He talked about how there was something there, a piece of him, that he'd never really known. But it was definitely for him, and it was definitely there. Before I had complete understanding of my words, out popped:

"You stopped just hearing the stories and you became part of the story."

But he said it was more than that. It was a feeling, flittering of imagination, wonderment...all things I feel in Louisiana as well. We laughed at some of the comparisons between Pakistan and Louisiana (there are similarities I had not expected) and lamented at how much better both could be. The look in his eye as we talked reflected my feelings perfectly.

There is clearly something of us that remains in the places which we consider home. Even if it is not a place of our birth. In the case of my friend, it is in a place he has spent little time in, is not from, but lay in wait for his arrival. When I went to Acadia National Park, a park named after the area my ancestors settled, I felt something like that to. I feel it when I cross over the Sabine River. I even felt a little bit of it in France.

Some call it roots. I think it's more than that. We have where we live, and we have where we are local. I have come to believe my writing is trying to teach me what it is to be local, what those pieces buried in the DNA of the soil, which come alive the minute I set foot on it, and better understand my part in the story. Or then again, it could just be I like the smell of the mud in Louisiana better.

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