March 8, 2015

Georgia Always On My Mind By New York Times Bestseller Dianna Love


I had mixed feelings when I arrived in Atlanta at the beginning of 1975, because Georgia was so different from where I grew up in Tampa, Florida.  I started life in a place where we wore sandals during the winter, which we considered cold if the temps dropped into the low fifties.  I drove to Atlanta in a faded green Mercury Capri with 110,000+ miles and no working heater--which hadn’t been a problem in the Sunshine State.  I’d left the laid back world of beach life for a business opportunity in Georgia, but I began to question that decision after waking up to heavy traffic in a sprawling city with thick humidity in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. 

At the end of the first year, I had serious doubts about staying.  

Then something happened to change all that.   I paused one weekend from working around the clock and took notice of what was going on around me.   The short story is that a ginormous corporation had bought property in the heart of downtown Atlanta, and there was an old, closed-down theater on it. The company intended to tear it down and build a beautiful new skyscraper.  
End of story, right? 

It might have been, if the theater were anywhere else. But not in Atlanta.  Residents came together to start a movement that became the legendary Save The Fox campaign.
And save it they did. 

I watched in shock as the city took on the monumental task of saving The Fox Theater, a historical treasure that remains today. I donated, as much out of curiosity to see how it would end as anything else.  Saving that theater took on a life of its own and I still get chills remembering that time.  Oh, and the skyscraper got built … a block away. 

The Fox Theater’s outstanding acoustics have made it a premier location for concerts and plays. In 1978, the Rolling Stones refused to perform anywhere but the Fox, and we worried that it would pandemonium since that band could pack the much-larger stadium twice over.  Not a bad statement for a theater slated to be demolished at one time. 

That was the moment I fell in love with Atlanta, and here’s why you would love Georgia.
Since we’re in Atlanta already, let’s start there. It’s a city steeped in history, from national parks where Civil War battles were fought, to the home of Martin Luther King, Jr., to parks and stadiums built for hosting the Olympics®.  The first home my husband and I built was on a piece of property that had once been part of a battlefield. We ended up with a benign ghost who I’ve always felt was a former soldier.  Not what I expected after building a brand new structure. 

Just a little way northeast of the city, even more history is carved into a massive granite rock belched out of the ground in Stone Mountain.  Geologists know how the magma formed 350 million years ago, but not how it became exposed.  It’s the largest known granite formation. You have to visit Stone Mountain Park during the springtime when the Dogwood trees are blooming.  After enjoying a day full of all the park’s activities, bring your blanket, wine and cheese, to sit on the lawn where you can listen to a free concert with the famous Civil War carving as the backdrop.  


If you enjoy the outdoors, Georgia is a state you’ll want to visit for what seems like endless miles of bike paths as part of the Rails-to-Trails program, to incredible golf courses, including the legendary Augusta National, or you can drive north of Atlanta until you reach the town of Blue Ridge, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 
  I want to spend a week just trying out all of the wonderful restaurants there. You should definitely treat yourself to the Harvest On Main for artistic seasonal choices. 


If being up in the mountains is not for you, head southeast to over four hundred thousand acres filled with wildlife in the Okefenokee Swamp. Seeing the mountains, the swamp and the eastern coast will give you an appreciation for just how different the parts of Georgia can be—all in one state.  Before you leave the Okefenokee area, take a trip straight east to the little coastal town of St. Marys, the location of a scene in one of my Belador urban fantasy stories.
  
While in St. Marys, take the ferry ride to Cumberland Island, which is full of history about the philanthropic Carnegies, who built four massive mansions on the island, and a famous secret Kennedy wedding in a tiny church.  Take the time to walk on a sugar-white beach that is often empty except for wild horses that come out to face the soft ocean breeze.


I’ve visited all these places and many more in Georgia, traveling sometimes by motorcycle to find new settings to include in future books.  But no matter where I am, I’m all about good food.  I have so many favorites just in Georgia, that I could fill up a book. Here are a few foodie tips.  Try The Flying Biscuit for breakfast, but visit the original one in Midtown Atlanta and ask for Paula. Or enjoy Italian cuisine at Pasta Da Pulcinella, another charming Atlanta restaurant, and one you’d have to know about since it’s not in the main traffic areas.

 If you’re over in Marietta, visit Thaicoon and Sushi bar,  When I’m up for seafood and want to wear my jeans, I head to Six Feet Under, the iconic restaurant across the street from the historic Oakland Cemetery  and one of Evalle Kincaid’s favorite places in the Belador series.


I’ve traveled back and forth across this great country, setting stories in different locations, but the Slye Temp romantic thrillers and the Belador urban fantasy are both set in Atlanta, because there’s a saying in writing to “write what you know.” I think we always know home the best.  



Dianna is giving away her e-book box set of the first three Slye Temp Romantic Suspense novels (winner must have an Amazon or Barnes & Noble account) plus a set of signed Keeper Kase® cards, to one person who comments here.  Please leave your contact information so she can reach you.

For all information on Author Dianna Love, visit here:

(all info provided by author)



15 comments:

Debbie Kump said...

Thank you, Dianna, for sharing these beautiful photos and stories that remind me of my childhood growing up in Rome, Georgia and making frequent trips to nearby Stone Mountain whenever relatives came to visit. Best wishes to you with your writing!

Dianna Love said...

I'm so glad, Debbie. I'm tickled to be part of the 50 states blog program. Thanks for saying hello!

Fiona McGier said...

Wow! You had me interested from the huge granite formation with a park surrounding it. Then the miles of hiking/biking trails? I'm definitely adding Georgia to my list of states we MUST camp in someday. Thanks for the info!

fiona(dot)mcgier(at)gmail(dot)com

Salvatore Buttaci said...

The only time I was ever in Georgia was back in the summer of 1960 on a drive to Miami where I was studying at the university there. I suppose I was in a hurry to see my girlfriend Mira and sped a few miles over the Macon, GA, limit. I paid a hefty fine for my stupidity, but never blamed the state of Georgia! Friends of mine moved there from our West Virginia and love it there! Dianna, thank you for this excellent article!

Salvatore Buttaci said...

I just left a comment about my drive through Georgia back in 1960, but I forgot to leave my name and e-mail address: salvatorebuttaci@yahoo.com (Sal Buttaci)

Candace Johnson Fox said...

Wonderful article full of history and beautiful history. Thank you for sharing this piece of your History with us. As always it is a honor to be a fan of yours. Thank you for your books, I love them all and am looking forward to Stolen Vengeance, not too long now...
Come on by Dianna's Street Team. I will give you a personal Welcome and Dianna's page is always a lot of fun and engaging.
http://tinyurl.com/mdkdsfl

clareroden said...

Hi Diana until I read the blog post I never realized the connection with Belador and the Oakland Cemetery! *hand slapping myself in the face as I'm stupid Lol* Atlanta looks such a beautiful and wonderful place to live with plenty of places to explore. I loved reading you post.

Candace Johnson Fox said...

Forgot my email as well: Candi714@att.net

Jaden Terrell said...

Dianna, thank you for this virtual tour of Georgia. I've loved the Fox Theater, albeit from afar, since I was in the sixth grade. It was a thrill to see it mentioned here. I'm so glad they saved it!

Dianna Love said...

Im so glad you enjoyed the tour of GA, Fiona. I didn't see these posts yesterday or I'd have answered then. thanks for visiting.

Dianna Love said...

I'm sorry you got a ticket, Salvatore, (I've had my share here - lol), and tickled you enjoyed the blog. Thanks for visiting.

Dianna Love said...

Hi Candi and thanks for inviting everyone to join our street team. As they can see, we have the best members and Candi is our official hostess. thanks for jumping over here.

Dianna Love said...

LOL, Clare, I've had that same reaction when I visited somewhere I've read about and start telling my husband about it. He's like - how do you know that? I'm like - because I read. lol Thanks for visiting. sorry I'm slow to reply but these posts weren't here when I was checking yesterday and look like they are not posting now.

Dianna Love said...

Hi Jaden and I agree - what a shame it would be to have lost the Fox Theater. It's worth visiting just to walk inside to see what it looks like. Thanks for saying hello!

Dianna Love said...

I just got the name (from my asst who draws names for me) and Congratulations to Salvatore!! Cassondra (my asst) will be in touch with you. :)

Thank you all for visiting the blog and just as Candi said - you're all invited to join us at Dianna Love Stree Team (group page on FB). :)