Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Author Spotlight - Melanie Atkins talksa bout the Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is one of my favorite places, and that's why I set my Keller Cops series there. The county in the books is made up, as is the town of Hunter's Bayou, but the setting is still on the coast in an area that's surging back since Katrina knocked it for a loop back in August of '05. The town I used as a model for Hunter's Bayou is perched on the edge of a bay. It stretches down to Highway 90 and on to the Gulf of Mexico. That highway is of the main drags that's also known to locals as The Beach. In the books, I call it the beach road.

Most of the stores along the beach were leveled by the storm when a thirty-foot wave swept ashore there, that broke my heart. So many fun little shops, restaurants, and beautiful homes just dragged out to sea never to be seen again. I don't know how many people died there, but I know a good many did. Several law enforcement officers survived by hanging on to a tree. Katrina was a truly horrifying event.

I look forward to visiting the coast now, but I do miss seeing and visiting the landmarks that are no longer there. The stately homes in Pass Christian, Gulfport's library, the Gulfport Grand Casino's giant neon buildings, Treasure Bay Casino's pirate ship, Valentino's… I had so many good times there. Treasure Bay had absolutely the best bread pudding I've ever eaten, and I loved browsing for gifts and fun little treasures at Valentino's.

The bright white sand on the gorgeous beach is still there, however. As are the centuries-old oaks and the Biloxi Lighthouse that has withstood many, many storms, not to mention a multitude of new hotels, restaurants, gift shops, stores, and casinos -- all this time built on the land side of Highway 90 away from the water.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast really is a visitor's mecca. I love to go down, stay at a hotel on the beach, and write. You won't find a more beautiful view in too many places. Ya'll come down!

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