Memories of Louisiana inspire new fictional series ‘Home to Cypress Bayou’

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Southern novelist Susan Sands returns home to her new series Louisiana Bayou, which is set in a fictional Natchitoches-based town that’s charming and historic with plenty of regional flavor.

Sands, who lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia, grew up in Negreet, 30 miles from Natchitoches, and graduated from Northwestern State University. She draws inspiration from local memories in “Home to Cypress Bayou,” a romance novel and the first in a trilogy coming out this year. “A lot of what I put into my books comes from my experiences living and growing up in that environment,” she said. “A lot of material there…”

Although the novel doesn’t come out until May 31, I thought some North Louisiana book clubs might consider pre-ordering it for light local summer reading and possibly planning a road trip to Natchitoches. Reading “Home to Cypress Bayou” will have you craving meat pies and Cane River sights. The novel also includes Sands’ recipes for Kidney Beans and Rice and Crawfish Stew, if you like to get together with other book lovers to talk books and eat.

The author of five other published novels, Sands never gave up Home to Cypress Bayou, the first novel she wrote. “An author’s journey to publication can be long and winding,” she said. “This book was rejected many times, and there were a lot of ‘almosts,’ so I kept rewriting it in hopes that someone would like it like me and want to publish it.”

The value of reading in difficult times

“Reading about fictional people and places is an escape for our minds and hearts,” Sands said. “Getting lost in novels and poetry can help heal the soul. Real life is hard. Read a book.”

The premise of ‘Home to Cypress Bayou’

Parisian gallerist Leah Bertrand returns to her historic, moss-draped hometown after being paired as a bone marrow donor with a stranger. The match is so close, however, that doctors suspect a familial connection. But how? Leah’s family has always been seething with drama, and this visit to the house promises deep, dark secrets. Dr Jake Carmichael is shocked to see first love Leah back in town and on his patient list – and their interactions raise questions about what went wrong in their relationship and what the future holds .

The importance of setting up

“I’ve found that readers like to immerse themselves in rich settings, imagining places in the stories they read,” she said. “They get to know the characters as friends and often wish it was possible to visit the locations in real life. Well, the beauty is that you can visit Natchitoches, also known as Cypress Bayou. I took some liberties with the names of the restaurants and the town itself, but it’s all there, just as I described it in the story.

Susan Sands

Learn more about the author

Sands was the 2017 Georgian Author of the Year. She is a member of the Atlanta Writer’s Club and the Georgia Romance Writers. She is married to Douglas Sands, originally from Bossier, and mother of three adult children. To visit her on social media, see www.facebook.com/susannsandsauthor, https://twitter.com/SusanNoelSands or https://www.instagram.com/susansandsauthor.

“Home to Cypress Bayou” is available for pre-order at www.amazon.com and www.tulepublishing.com. (Reminder: Pre-orders are a great help to authors.) The next two books in the series: “Secrets in Cypress Bayou,” due out August, and “A Bayou Christmas,” November, from Tule Publishing. For more information: www.susansands.com.

His favorite authors

“Karen White, Luanne Rice and Delia Owens, to name a few. But there are so many. I recently completed Karen White’s Tradd Street series, Kim Richardson’s ‘The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek’ and Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing.” All are excellent and have a strong “place as character” feel…I like historical fiction, southern fiction, and romance.

His advice to writers

“I could write a book about what I learned to write books. My advice is to never give up on your dreams, whatever they are. We learn and grow every day, and if you really want something, you can make it happen. Writers: I feel you. It’s a tough business and you have to allow yourself some grace.

Columnist Judy Christie is the author of 18 novels and non-fiction books. With NYT bestselling author Lisa Wingate, she co-wrote “Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society,” the nonfiction sequel to Wingate’s novel “Before We Were Yours”. To learn more about Christie, visit www.judychristie.com.

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