I write novels. I’ve even been known to write southern novels. And what makes southern novels “southern” is their sense of place.susangabriel3

Not only are the characters quirky and sometimes bigger than life, but they are all also grounded in the landscape. Throw in a crackpot, an old wise woman and a preacher and we love it even more.

We southerners, those born-and-raised like me, as well as transplants from all over the world, love our countryside.

I am here in the mountains of Western North Carolina because twenty-five years ago I fell in love with Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest. One might ask: who falls in love with a river? But we all have similar stories, those of us who have chosen to live here.

This place is a crown jewel of the south. A town nestled in the arms of ancient mountains. A place known for waterfalls, forests and trails. A place that houses not only a fine college, but a renowned music festival. A place with white squirrels, mountain bikers and a squirrelly character or two.

Critics may call Brevard, North Carolina a “sleepy” little town. But in a nation that is sleep-deprived, stressed-out, and searching for answers, a little slower paced is a very good thing. It’s true, we have a different rhythm here.

It is the rhythm of waterfalls. It is the rhythm of cicadas, mountain streams and walks by the river. It is the rhythm of weary travelers seeking out a welcoming front porch to converse with the locals and the land, to ponder their purpose on earth, and their place.

I sit here overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains on the most beautiful front porch in the country, located in one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world.

A place where Native Americans thought the story of creation began.

A place that gave birth to the third oldest river in the world.

A place that I love.

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Southern novelsP.S. My southern novel, The Secret Sense of Wildflower, received a starred review by Kirkus Reviews and was voted a Best Book of 2012.

“…astute observations and wonderfully turned phrases, with nary a cliche to be found. She could be an adolescent Scout Finch…A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read.

To read the entire Kirkus review go here.

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This article was originally published in The Daily Waterfall. October 14, 2013 

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