Wednesday, November 12, 2008


TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A SOUTHERN GIRL is the title of a new upcoming collection of southern stories about growing up in the South from your's truly cause people like Denise Hildreth and Kathy Patrick and hundreds of other readers keep asking for me to write down some of the stories that I tell when I'm on the road and talkin' and tellin' and laughing about what it means to be from the deep, down, dirty South.

So here's the story on that. Here's my confession #1.

I am a bonifide fried chicken eating, swamp walking, truth talking – Southern Girl.

It has taken me most of my life to arrive at this conclusion. Oh, I know it seems simple enough. Born in the south. Raised in the south. But it’s not. I was born a writer. And writers are often on the outside of their tribe looking in. It’s what we’re made for, reflection and composition – ultimate preservation. Spies of the human condition. We are measuring life at an early age, we are memorizing the nooks and crannies of speech and cadence, subtle changes in the weather outside the window and inside the human heart. We are the great witnesses to the eternal turn of time.
Okay – enough of the philosophizing :) and back to why I’m confessing.

Not everyone takes me for a southern girl. Not even my own family. They see me as something foreign. An exotic, wasabi-eating Starbucks junkie. Don't worry I tell them, I’m just one of you. But they have their rightful suspicions. For one – I’m most often mistaken for a New Yorker. Why? But it happens more frequently than I can count. Even in New York as people stop me to ask directions. It’s not the sound of my voice. But it may be the way that I tend to dress in blacks and greys. Solid dark colors that won’t cause me to stand out in any way. Might be the way that I stand, arms often folded across my chest, watching things around me. Or the fact that sometimes when I’m speaking my cadence doesn’t come out very twangy and for this I must blame my broadcast teachers at a very young college age who tried their best to erase the speech they found unfavorable. To make me more generic, acceptable for jobs in all parts of America. Or it might be that I sure nuff don't smile enough. Never. I been looking serious since I was four.

But the things I wrote when hanging out in the theatre world were always about people trying hopelessly to escape where they were, who they were – to no avail. Now I realize years later, I was writing about me. I thought I belonged elsewhere. Now, I see that every novel and word I’ve written is infused with the blood of my people, words lying on paper as if they have been carved from their bones.

There ain't no escaping it honey. I can eat all the tabbouleh I want - next thing you know I'm craving cornbread and figs. Dark woods and crickets. Cane poles and people fishing at a pace that says, we'll just sit right out here and fish till we get a catch or Jesus comes back. Makes no never mind to us either way.

So, I"m gonna write a love letter to my people and to the place I come from. But in the meantime - just crack open any page of a novel of mine and you'll find the scent of the south rising from it's pages. You'll find that love letter has been in progress for a very long time.

And if I could find my thingy that connect my camera to my laptop I'd upload the very pictures of my back woods swampy creek Tara that is the very setting for a little place called Echo, Florida that rolls out on May 19th with the publication of my latest baby - SAINTS IN LIMBO. (You can preorder your copy now from just about anywhere and get one for your momma too. )

In the meantime, this New York looking woman ain't nothing but a walkin' talkin' Southern Girl. Yep, that's me. American by Birth and Southern by the Grace of God and that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

RIVER JORDAN is a southerner with a global perspective. Primarily, she’s a storyteller of the southern variety and has been cast most frequently in the company of Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee. Her most recent novel, Saints in Limbo will be released by Random House/Waterbrook May 19, 2009.

Ms. Jordan teaches and speaks on ‘The Passion of Story’ around the country and produces and hosts the radio program, BACKSTORY, on WRFN, 98.9 FM, Nashville Saturday’s 4-6 CST, Jordan and her husband live in Nashville, TN. You may visit the author at


Eric Wilson said...

Oh man, I can't wait to read your latest, River. Your writing is stellar, your honesty refreshing, and your southerness is evident in all the best ways.

From one of your biggest fans,

Dana Ashley said...

Your writing has enchanted me since I read the first line back in 2005! You make me take a time out from staring at the laptop and breathe in the goodness of God and all His blessings. Thank you for the treat today!

Herman said...

River, I will be happy to testify to your southerness to anybody anywhere. I'm looking forward to the new book. All us folks over here in "Left Tennessee" and North Miss'sippi. Will kick up a fuss when you come for a sighing. We'll even round up a covey of writers down in Oxford and take you to "Big Bad Breakfast," order up some "cats head biscuits and red-eye gravy." We might even get Ole Larry Brown's spirit to join us.


Barbara said...

My true confession to the world. When I was growing up with you, River, I called you an airhead, because of all the traits you've just talked about in this wonderful commentary. Let this be a lesson to me and an inspiration to all the other airheads in this old world, because now we know what airheads grow up to be - wonderfully gifted and talented writers. =)

I can't wait for the new book to hit the shelves. It will be a blessing to all. =)

Love ya girl,

The Pulpwood Queen said...

I just hope to God the story of your family, the cousin I believe, you know, the one where she put all her dogs that died into the chest of drawers in the garage because she just couldn't bear to bury them, anyway, that story, I hope it's in the book. Nobody tells a story any finer than you River Jordan. I can't wait to read your latest book. And the Jaybird says hey, see you soon in Jefferson!
a.k.a. Pulpwood Queen

River Jordan said...

That cousin is a thousand times funnier and smarter than I am. I will not name her because she would not want me to but she could be a stand up comedian, or a novelist, or have her own talk show but she won't do it. (And she couldn't bury the dogs cause something was wrong with the ground. It's a longer story than I told.) She could write her own novels too but she won't do that either. But she does tell the funniest stories I've ever heard and I steal them and it makes me look good but it's all them you see - that great glorious family of mine. And those cousins that are the apple of my eyes. They know who they are!

Herman - cat head biscuits and red-eye gravy, tomato gravy, four gravy - hey it don't matter - it's a deal.

Writers are nothing much without readers. Thanks for hanging out here and check back and read A Good Blog is Hard to Find often. Earmark it even.

Big Sister said...

I'm looking forward to reading your latest and greatest. The cover is beautiful; the rocking chair reminds me of two from my childhood... matter of fact... I can conjure a memory of you sitting in one of them in our living room at the Clematis Street house.

Always a fan,


Denise Hildreth said...

And no one makes me laugh harder...or enjoy a moment more than you!

One of my most precious friends,
Denise (No Denise isn't my friend, that's me- You're my friend...)

Sheila said...

You are so talented. I am so glad, from a strictly a Miss Piggy point of view, that I am the only person that can call you Seestor.
Thrilled about the new book and all the stories still untold...
I simply could not sleep before posting.

Anonymous said...

Nobody captures the south like you do...keep them stories coming !!!!


John said...

River, I enjoyed that very much. Up here in Washington people listen to me and think I am British. I soon learned that the only Southern accents they had heard were not from the South, but from Hollywood.

Janis Ward Phillips said...

No one transports me on another adventure like you do. Your writing is magical. I love that I am blessed with your stories and with YOU. Thanks for sharing your gifts with the world.
Love you always,

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