June 10, 2012

Melanie Atkins--Find your True South

Find Your True South is the latest catch phrase for Mississippi tourism -- and it fits, for this truly is the south. The Deep South, to be specific. The traditions here come from a mixture of British, French, Spanish, Native American, and African American influences, thanks to our early history.
The Mississippi River and the Port of New Orleans, in neighboring Louisiana, kept this area teeming with people of all cultures, and that has added to our rich heritage. The original Mississippi Territory was a narrow 100 mile strip in what is now central Mississippi and Alabama, formed in 1798, and then expanded in 1804 and 1812 to reach all the way from Tennessee to the Gulf of Mexico. The western half of this land became the state of Mississippi in 1817; two years later, the eastern part became Alabama.
In 1821, the site for a state capital was laid out in the geographic center of Mississippi, near a trading post named LeFleur's Bluff, and in 1833the city of Jackson -- named after Andrew Jackson -- was born. I live in Byram, a suburb of the capital and the state's second newest city.

Thanks to its rich mix of cultures, Mississippi has a vast literary heritage. William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Ellen Douglas, Shelby Foote, Margaret Walker Alexander, Richard Ford, Thomas Harris, and John Grisham all hail from my home state -- and that's just a few of the well known authors who have their roots here. The University of Mississippi in Oxford hosts a William Faulkner festival each year, and the Eudora Welty house in Jackson is a well known tourist attraction. Natchez also hosts a yearly literary festival. 
I've lived here all my life and have never been to any of those, and maybe I should make the effort.
Mississippi is also the birthplace of American music. Many of the blues greats have called the Delta home: Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell, Honeyboy Edwards, T-Model Ford, Jimmy Duck Holmes, and R.L. Burnside, just to name a few. My oldest son is the source of this information, and he should know. He paints many of the blues legends and goes to festivals around the state.
With all this culture floating around, I feel right at home here as a writer. All of my books are set in either Mississippi or Louisiana, because I'm a native of the Deep South and this is place is what I know. The Gulf Coast is one of my favorite backdrops, and I've spent plenty of time there. I love the white sand beaches, the eclectic community, and the amazing resilience of the residents there. Katrina tried to wipe the place off the map -- the pictures from that catastrophic event still send chills down my spine -- but Mississippi fought back! New Orleans, too. For before and after pictures of the coast, go here:  http://www.photosfromkatrina.com/page04.htm
And speaking of New Orleans, my latest release from Whiskey Creek Press is Blood Rite, a romantic suspense set in The Big Easy. I channeled this book and wrote it in six weeks.

Women in New Orleans are dying. Women New Orleans Police Detective Nick Marconi has dated. To make matters worse, they have all been found with vials of his murdered sister’s blood in their throats. Nick is walking a tightrope between depression and rage. His superiors are worried about his mental health, so they send him to see psychiatrist Gracie Simmons.
Gracie is walking a tightrope of her own. She became a psychiatrist because she wants to help people, and in addition to private practice, she also treats police and parolees. The extra work gives her flashbacks about her father, however, a bad cop arrested when she was just fifteen. Then a former flame harasses her, and her best friend turns up dead. Desperate for a distraction, she makes Nick her special project. Only… he doesn’t want to be saved.

You can read more about this book here:  http://bit.ly/ICBcsf
Please visit my website, my blog, and my Facebook page to read about all of my books:
My next release is Keller County Cops Book Four: Deliverance from Evil, due out June 1 from Desert Breeze Publishing.  Please make sure to visit my website to find out more. 
(Pictures provided by author) 


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your state with us. I love reading them. I must visit.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. Lovely post. The history of your state is wonderful and it's obviously a place that oozes inspiration for all the wonderful, creative people who hail from there. And I include you in that, my friend. Your stories are wonderful!

  3. Thank you both! I do love Mississippi, and I want people to know about our rich cultural heritage. My favorite part of the state is the coast, where I have relatives, and I love to visit there!

  4. Loved hearing about your state and LOVE your books.

  5. I live next door in AL, and I can testify to the wonderful recovery in MS. The gulf was nearly destroyed but the people of your state are a hardy bunch. Within a year, things were starting to return to normal. And you have to most beautiful beaches. Pure white sand and gentle waters. A great vacation spot!

  6. One, what a terrific idea for a blog -- the fifty states, followed by a terrific author, Melanie Atkins. Gosh, you're surrounded by literary greatness in your state aren't you. You're having so much success and it's well earned! Great post.

  7. Thank you, Liz and Allison! Liz, your comment did come through. And Allison, yes. I love those beaches. I haven't been down there in a while, and I need to go.

  8. Hey, Melanie. Just finished Voodoo Bomes. Loved it. Can I have a Matt?

  9. Well, here in Arkansas, we always say (regardless of what statistic we are talking about) thank goodness for Mississippi! LOL

    Seriously though, the gulf coast is a wonderful place.

    And yes, your love for your state comes through loud and clear

  10. Melanie, what a fascinating post! Thank you for sharing this information with us. I've never traveled in the deep South, but I certainly hope to do so some day!

    Nick Marconi and BLOOD RITES is on my Kindle, and is next on my list of "to be read"!


  11. I enjoyed your historical tour of Mississippi and still have chills running up my spine from the back cover blurb of your new release. Best of luck with your writing!

  12. Thank you all! Jillian, I'm sorry, but no. Matt is mind. And so is Nick, Kathleen. I'll loan them to you, but you can't keep 'em. lol

    And Cyndi, we say the same thing about Arkansas. lol


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