I was recently invited to write a guest post for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance blog, and I wrote about my transition from Jersey Girl to Southern Writer. You can read the post here , and I offer it with apologies to everyone in New Jersey, especially my family, my friends and my agent. You know I love you all (ya’ll? youse guys?), but it’s too darn cold up there and finding ‘shrimp and grits’ on a menu in New Jersey is almost as hard as finding pork roll here in North Carolina. (I say “almost” because there are so many Jerseyites down here that you can find pork roll in the grocery store, though I’ve yet to see it in a restaurant.)
It’s strange to be a part of two worlds (two and a quarter, since I left a piece of heart in San Diego as well). I feel fortunate to have experienced such different parts of the country, but it does make for a bit of an identity crisis at times. Am I the Italian kid with the out-of-control curly black hair who knew every exit on the Turnpike and every diner within a twenty mile radius of home, who took the bus to Greenwich Village just for a cappuccino, was afraid of the neighborhood “dawgs”, and made out under the boardwalk? Or am I the auburn-haired woman who understands the difference between the barbecue in Eastern and Western North Carolina, knows to order her iced tea “unsweet” instead of “unsweetened”, hasn’t worn boots in years, has actually tasted peanuts in Coke, and doesn’t stumble over the town name Fuquay-Varina?
I occasionally envy those writers who have lived in North Carolina all their lives. They are so grounded in their setting. They know the history, the language, and above all, the people with a depth I’ll never be able to achieve. But I wouldn’t trade my experiences in the two worlds–north and south–for anything. I’m a Jersey girl who became a Southern writer, and I’ve loved every minute of the journey.