A place in the heart
by Fran McNabb
If you’re not from my corner of the world, “The Point” probably brings up all sorts of meanings. For me and for the tightly knit group of people who grew up on the small
peninsula of the Gulf Coast, the name conjures up memories from the past.
The Point, or Point Cadet as some called it, was home to several ethnic groups—Cajuns, Yugoslavians and Italians—most of whom made their living from the seafood industry. Over the years these different groups shared their traditions and food and
seemed to meld together while still keeping their own traditions alive. We grew up enjoying foods from all the cultures, such as baccali, jambalaya
Most families had someone who worked as shrimpers or factory workers or owned
neighborhood stores and cafes that catered to those families. My mother and father both
were seafood workers. Dad had a shrimp boat and Mom worked on and off throughout her life
in the factories. My brother and I even tried our hand at part-time work, but quickly learned
that life wasn’t for us.
I love to share memories
with people who
grew up in that part of
the world. The other
day something reminded
me of the “aroma”
of the huge oyster shell
piles on the beach.
I know most people wouldn’t
think of that
as a good memory, but I
loved it. (Thanks
to Tiffany Duval for the
picture. The picture
comes from a time prior
to my life, but the
piles remained into the
late 20th C.)
I love riding down the
beach today thinking
about what we did as children
there. I have
to smile at the memory
of our moms in their
big sunhats following us
children who rolled
huge truck inner tubes
through the streets
to get to the beach. What
Most of us lived in the
and played with the same
friends for our
entire school years. I
look at our mobile
society today and realize that so many young
people don’t have that advantage. It was
a comfortable life—not rich in material things—but
comfortable because of the familiarity of
the people around us, the slow rhythms of life, and the traditions
that we expected.
I think most of us become nostalgic for the
things we loved as children, and many of us try to instill some of the same traditions
in our own children. The Point was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, but though
the landmarks might be gone, nothing can take those memories from our hearts.
Everywhere in the world has its own place like “The Point.” Where is yours? Is it in
upper New York, in the desserts of the southwest, or in a small town in the Midwest? No matter
where the region is, I’m sure you have special memories from your past
that are distinctively yours. If you do, you can count yourself as one of the lucky ones.
Mother Nature's Helping Hand
By Fran McNabb
The Gulf Coast is my home. Its miles of beaches
and line of barrier islands, and countless
winding bayous and bays have been an influence
on me, and now I find it's an important influence
on my books.
I guess it's true that we write what we know
In ONCE IN A HALF MOON my hero is a charter
boat captain who loves the freedom and beauty
of the water. Boats have been part of my
life as well, and I was fortunate enough
to find a husband who loves being on the
water as much as I do. Just last week we
spent the night anchored at Ship Island,
one of the barrier islands just off the coast.
He grilled me a steak and we watched the
sun set as we ate. Nothing can compare to
the awesome beauty of a sunset on the water
- unless it's watching the sunrise while
drinking coffee on the stern of the boat.
In my February 2010 release ON THE CREST
OF A WAVE, my heroine finds herself helping
a Union officer on this same island. Where
we anchored I could see the fort that was
taken over by the Union forces in the early
part of the Civil War and then used as a
Confederate Prisoner of War Camp. It's hard
to walk the island today over a hundred years
later and not think about what happened on
that barren stretch of sand. How can you
not be creative in a setting like that?
I'm always asked where I get the ideas for
my novels. It's hard to say how ideas originate.
One day your mind is a blank slate and the
next your fingers are flying across the keyboard.
I guess if I'm honest with myself, my surroundings
play an important role in formulating stories,
and I'm lucky enough to live where nature
evokes an emotional response and strikes
a creative chord.
Think about your surroundings. Do you live
in the mountains, the plains, a coastline
or in a big city? Sometimes we take for granted
what we see every day. Today, take a moment
and actually see the beauty and the awe that
Mother Nature has provided. You never know
if the idea for your next book is waiting
for you to discover it there.