Author Guest Post
Small-Town Girls and Going Home
By: Suzanne Johnson
I grew up in a really small town. On a good day, the population was about 2,500, and my roots ran deep. My parents had been born there. My grandparents had been born there. My great-grandparents had been born there too, and my great-great-grandparents within fifty miles. I had to go back to the late 1700s to find ancestors in other states, and a good century earlier than that to find their treks from Scotland and Ireland.
My high school graduating class, with seventy-four members, was the largest in the history of the town—the year behind us, the class had thirty-nine people. Of the seventy-four of us who graduated, seventy had been together since first grade.
One of my current coworkers comes from a small town (although not quite that small) and her one-year experiment in moving away only left her homesick and anxious to move back at the first chance.
There are, I’ve learned, two kinds of small-town girls (and guys too, I guess). There are those who, like my coworker, can’t imagine living anywhere else, especially not in a big, crowded city. And there are those who, like me, counted the days until my high school sentence was done so I could wipe the dust off my feet and never look back. I left home at eighteen and never returned except for short visits. In the years since, I’ve lived in some of the largest cities in the U.S. (Houston, San Diego, Chicago). New Orleans, where I’ve spent most of the past two decades, isn’t a large city by most standards, but the metro area is sprawling and has more than a million residents.
But six years ago, my roots called to me, and I realized I was tired of city life. I was tired of traffic, of taking an hour to drive to and from the grocery store or the mall, of crime and being afraid of going out alone at night, of kvetching local politicians. I was tired of people, people everywhere.
So I returned to a small town. Oh, not as small as the one in which I grew up. A nice little 50,000-people town (half of whom are transient college students) with a lot of bookstores, a nice museum, and virtually no crime. Where the sky is so blue and pollution-free, I had to stare at it the first few years I was here. I still go out to see stars, which I hadn’t seen for years, and they continue to amaze me. Since I couldn’t see them in the cities, I’d forgotten they were up there.
So the idea of home, and how home shapes us, was an idea I wanted to explore in CHRISTMAS IN DOGTOWN, my novelette about a young woman named Resa from a tiny Louisiana community who thought she wanted nothing more than to leave the dust of St. James Parish behind and move to New Orleans. When circumstances force her back to rural Dogtown for the month of December, she’s determined to get away as soon as she can.
And then she learns that she’d grown up not knowing much about home, and what home means. It’s really not about a place, but a mindset, a spirit, a deep and unabiding love, the sight of a bonfire on a river levee or a night sky full of stars. Home is, maybe, the place we all return to in time. For some, like Resa, it can mean literally going back. For others, like me, it’s a gradual understanding that home is more deeply ingrained than we thought, and that we can find our own ways to redefine it so that it makes sense for the people we’ve become.
DOGTOWN is a sweet paranormal romance, an interpretation of an old Louisiana folk legend, and a celebration of the modern practice of lighting bonfires along the Mississippi River so that Papa Noel can find the Cajun children when he arrives on the river in his pirogue. But mostly, it’s a story about home.
Are you living in the town where you grew up, or have you found a new place to call home? One commenter will receive a $5 Amazon gift card or equivalent purchase from Book Depository if outside the U.S.
About The Author
Christmas In Dogtown by Suzanne Johnson
Publisher: The Story Vault
Publication Date: October 17, 2012
Format: e-Book - 35 pages / Kindle - 168 KB / Nook - 110 KB
Genre: Paranormal Romance
BUY THE BOOK: Christmas In Dogtown
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Bewitching Book Tours.
Resa Madere’s on the verge of losing it all. The boyfriend’s gone. The job’s history. Her beloved house is on the brink of foreclosure. She’ll do anything to save it—even spend a long Christmas holiday working in St. James Parish, Louisiana, helping her uncle run the family meat business. But the community of Dogtown, which has been home for seven generations of the Madere and Caillou families, has deep roots and deeper secrets. For Resa, going home is one thing.
Getting out might not be so easy.
My Book Review:
Ad executive Resa Madere's life is on a downward slide: she's lost her job, her boyfriend, and her house is on the brink of foreclosure ... all before the Christmas holiday. Can life get any worse? When Resa's Uncle Aim becomes ill and asks her to come home to Dogtown, Louisiana, and help run the family meat market, Resa suddenly finds herself back in the town that she thought she had escaped from years ago. And if that isn't enough, Chandler Caillou, her childhood sweetheart is back in town and her family is acting strange ... is this a coincidence or is there something more going on in Dogtown?
Christmas In Dogtown is an enjoyable short holiday novella that follows a young woman's journey of rediscovering her hometown, family traditions, and finding what she has been searching for has been in front of her the whole time.
This is a touching story that has a nice mixture of light romance, intrigue and paranormal elements. In the backwoods town of Dogtown, Louisiana, old family traditions, obligations, and secrets are revealed, causing Resa to struggle to make a choice of what matter most in her life. The reader can't help but get drawn into the story of the Madere-Caillou families and how their generations of traditions and future now lies upon Resa and Chandler's shoulders. As the old family secrets are revealed, Resa struggles to make a choice between family and what she wants out of life, and while Chandler leaves the decision up to Resa, there's nothing like the magical holiday season to help her decide!
With a cast of quirky characters; humorous dialogue and interactions; a richly detailed description of the small Louisiana town setting; and an engaging storyline that mixes together romance, intrigue and a touch of paranormal elements; Christmas In Dogtown is a perfect short story to read during the holiday season!
RATING: 4 STARS ****
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