Eleven years ago—and after 18 years there—the hubs and I left the Big Easy, courtesy of a company transfer. The thing about New Orleans, it doesn’t let you completely leave. It lingers in your mind. And yeah, in your taste buds. You find yourself trying to find food as good and inhale those rich, distinctive scents.
I went back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and it almost broke my heart. Before Katrina, as soon as you stepped out of the breezeway at the airport, you knew you were back. That first time back, it didn’t look or smell like home. The airport was a dank, shadowy, scary place.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back, because it didn’t feel like home anymore. But we did. Several times. Some places are gone forever, but the spirit of New Orleans survives and even thrives. Katrina isn’t the first time the city has faced disaster and made a come back.
I also didn’t expect to write about New Orleans again but a friend of mine found a partial that I wrote for a long gone agent. When the agent and I parted ways, I shelved the story to write Out of Time. She emailed me and asked me about the partial, wondered if I had more. I hunted around on my computer and found it, opened it, started reading…
…and started remembering.
It felt like New Orleans just reached out and gave me that old familiar hug, one filled with scents and sights and sounds like no where else on Earth (okay, I don’t know that but it feels like it’s true).
And I knew that I needed to finish what I’d started all those years ago. There were some challenges, not the least, how Katrina had changed the city that care forgot. And I take lousy notes when I’m writing, so I had to try to figure out, try to remember what I’d meant to write. And then what I should write. As always, my characters got involved and surprised me. It was also new for me, because I knew going in that it was going to be a series going in, stories not just about a city I learned to love, but about a family. A big family. My Baker’s Dozen. My Big Uneasy.
The other story-behind-the-story of this book is what it wouldn’t be if my agent hadn’t decided we needed to part ways.
It’s possible that the book I would have written back then would have been more marketable (by New York) standards. I will never know. I do know that I’m glad I waited to write this book. I think I needed to learn what it means to miss New Orleans—and to learn the writing lessons from writing my Project Enterprise series—to write Relatively Risky. I think it’s a better book than it would have been had I written it ten years ago. I’m grateful to that agent for realizing that our goals for my career didn’t mesh and moving on. She did the right thing for both of us.
So, what felt at the time like a door hitting me in the face, was actually one of those windows opening onto great opportunities. I just had to get far enough out that window to realize it.
Have you had that happen? Had a kick that turned out to be a hug? Sitting there wondering what hit you? Feel free to share the joy or the sorrow. I will commiserate or cheer AND all comments are entered into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). Winner is announced the first blog post of the new month.
Pauline doesn’t always see opportunity in suffering, but while she’s waiting to see, she funnels the angst into hosing her characters. It helps her be more mellow during her trials and tribulations. To find out more about her books, check out this blog or hop over to her website. Be sure to sign up for new releases newsletter while you’re there. 🙂
“Jones’ writing style is unique: a strong dose of noir balanced with humor and witty dialogue.” Midwest Book Review
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