“One place understood helps us understand all places better.”
Being a Southerner, place is part of my identity and therefore a big part of my writing. In fact, you could say it’s the root of many of my stories. It’s that way for most Southern writers; stories derive from the landscape, the place. And I’m not just talking about fields and the outdoors. Place can be the block you grew up on or the neighborhood where you lived or even your apartment building.
I still remember the block where I first lived in New Orleans, the bar for longshoremen on the corner and the Cajun woman who lived across the street, who dressed in long calico dresses and had thirty cats. It’s been a source of material many times. It’s true that the more you write about a place, the more you understand it and, in doing so, you come to see how character is shaped by that landscape, how the territory makes the person.