February 19, 2012

Dela-Where? Heather Lin Explains

Delaware is divided into two sections: north and south. North starts above the C&D Canal, and it’s an industrial area run mostly by the DuPont company. The only skyscrapers you’ll find in Delaware are there, mostly in the city of Wilmington.

I was born and raised in southern Delaware where corn fields, pick up trucks, and trucker caps are the norm. Down around Rehoboth, you run into the tourists and retirees, but everywhere around it is green, with local produce stands and people living happy lives.

I was raised in Farmington in an old farmhouse next to the railroad tracks and I ran wild and barefoot with the neighbor boys, climbing on broken down tractors, army crawling through muddy ditches, and kissing in the backyard behind the trees, where my parents couldn’t see.

We moved to Slaughter Beach when I was nine after a fire. I learned to crab in those mucky wetlands from a middle-aged, chain-smoking woman who I only ever knew as Lil’ Bit.

In a year, we had our new house built, right smack in the middle of a nine acre, wooded lot. We lived across from a farmer’s field, next to a chicken farm and I would spend hours and hours playing in the brush in the backyard, finding little hiding spots and letting my imagination run wild with thoughts of fairies and fantasy.

But what makes me love Delaware the most is family. My roots here run deep. My grandfather, my mother and I all graduated from the same high school. My maid of honor for my upcoming wedding in May is my third cousin and I know all the ones in between. One of my favorite times of year is the family reunion—everyone bakes and cooks and catches up.
I come from one of those happy families where good home cooking is a cure-all and you can bet there’s always coffee in the pot.

I went away to Pennsylvania for college simply because I knew it was the only way I’d ever cut those apron strings and gain some independence.

I was homesick. Every single day. Country music would make me cry in a heartbeat. Where the Green Grass Grows by Tim McGraw became my anthem. But it was Taylor Swift’s Mary’s Song that touched me the most and helped me to channel my homesickness into something productive.

The sweet, romantic song about two childhood sweethearts who grow up together, get married, and live happily ever after inspired the story of Jason and Gabby in my novel, Westridge.  My family and hometown inspired the characters and the setting. In Westridge, zucchini bread is a cure-all and opinions are voiced whether they’re welcome or not. Family and community are everything, and even though some might lose their way, they always end up right where they belong.

Writing the story helped me feel close to home, even though I was three hours away.

And the homesickness was worth it. I got my degree, met a nice boy and we just bought our first house—south of the canal.

Blurb of Westridge:

Gabby Jones and Jason Dawson were born only months apart in the small, country town of Westridge. For the next eighteen years, they were inseparable, but after their high school graduation, Gabby got on a bus to the city, leaving Jason with a weak explanation and a broken heart. After five years of making it a point to avoid her old flame, Gabby comes home for a funeral and, thanks to meddling parents and circumstance, she and Jason are thrown together again.
But now Jason is an auto mechanic with an ex-wife and a daughter, and Gabby owns a successful flower shop in the city. Even if Gabby is able to admit she still loves Jason, and even if Jason is able to convince her to tell him the real reason she left, will they be able to get past the changes and broken pieces in time to start over?
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(Photos provided by author)


  1. Thanks for having me today, Annette! :)

  2. I've never heard much about Delaware, except in Revolutionary War history, and also that it was part of the Del-Mar-Va peninsula. At least I think it's a peninsula! Your blogpost, Heather, brings it vividly to life. Not just the landscape, but the people and the culture as well. Thanks for sharing it!
    Lori Orser

  3. What a lovely post and an ode to family. Made me think of my roots and family back in Wyoming. I miss them, too. Congrats on the book!

  4. My college roomate was from Delaware and I went home with her to spend the weekend at her parents' house. I thought it was beautiful there.
    I know what you mean about leaving home to seek your fortune and grow up--and then get so homesick you think it will kill you. I left North Carolina and went to Omaha, Nebraska--homesick every dang day. I called home and, when my mother ansered the phone, my throat closed up from missing her and I couldn't even speak.
    Lovely blog about Delaware.

  5. You're right, Lori! It sure is part of the Delmarva Peninsula. If another iceberg melts, we'll be the first to go! lol

    Thanks for stopping by, Pauline!

    And that's exactly how I felt, Sarah! I called my mom just to bawl in her ear more than a few times...:)

  6. Heather, I love your story! So sweet. And your picture-I had an orange tabby for 19 years--the sweetest cat! Delaware is another state I've never been to but would love to visit.

  7. Thanks, Heidi! That's my Pippin, taken outside of my parents' house. I think there's something about orange tabbys. They seem to have such good temperaments. :)

    I certainly hope you get the chance to visit sometime!

  8. I loved reading your memories. I have only driven through Delaware and stopped for lunch. Thanks
    debby236 at gmail dot com


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