Guest Post by Stephanie Lawton
The importance of setting: This ain’t Kansas, y’all
I started writing Want shortly after we moved from rural northeast Ohio to Mobile, Alabama. Any more Deep South and you’re in the Gulf of Mexico. You wanna talk about culture shock? Holy shrimp and grits, people!
With the differences between Ohio and Mobile in such sharp contrast, I couldn’t help but write everything I noticed into Want, so much so that Mobile feels like another character in the book.
I loved trying to describe all the new things I was experiencing.
What things? Glad you asked:
The weather: Where I grew up, anything above eighty degrees was just insane. In Mobile, eighty degrees is cause to bust out the Old Navy Performance Fleece. Factor in the humidity and this Yankee had her head in the freezer more than she cares to admit.
At one point in Want, Juli says it’s so hot she wants to shave her head. This is not an exaggeration, but it does make it even weirder that she wears long-sleeved shirts in the middle of summer. Hmm …
The accents: Now I know what my Southern friends are going to say: “We don’t have accents! Y’all do!” Oh, yes, you do. And they are lovely. The Mobile accent is a little different than some other Southern ones. It’s not twangy, but more mellow, like New Orleans, and yet it’s not Cajun (think Troy on Swamp People).
Many Southerners drop their contractions (“I do not know.”) when they’re trying to make a point or they get angry. There are two characters in Want who often do this. Random fact: I studied Alabama author Rick Bragg’s speech patterns to get this right.
The scenery: Oh, this is my favorite part of Mobile and the coastal South. It. Is. Gorgeous. Downtown and Midtown are filled with beautiful Greek Revival homes, canopies of live oaks with hanging Spanish moss, and cloudless blue skies.
Just a little further south is Dauphin Island. You may have heard of it during the recent oil spill. Thank goodness its shores weren’t too horribly affected. It’s one of the most gorgeous places on earth—beaches, rocky coves with millions of shells on the shore, and a breathtaking Civil War fort that overlooks it all.
One of my favorite scenes in Want is set on the shores of Dauphin Island. We get to see Juli cut loose for once, though the night doesn’t end quite like she’d hoped. Let’s just say she gets sand in some strange places. *wink, wink*
Many thanks to Stephanie for stopping today and giving my readers an opportunity to win her book. After this post, I’m even more excited to read Want! Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win an ebook copy for yourself!