Author Ellen Byron Gets Inspired By Cajun Country
by Ellen Byron
When I attended college at New Orleans’ Tulane University, my parents took advantage of this wonderfully-situated school to visit the Big Easy. We would also venture past the Crescent City limits to explore Cajun Country. There, we discovered a region of America that had its own cuisine, its own music – even its own language. To this day, you can hear locals chatting in the Cajun French spoken by the Acadian settlers who made the area their home after being expelled from Canada in the mid-18thcentury. During these visits, I developed a fascination with Cajun Country that eventually found its way into my writing, first as a playwright and eventually as a mystery novelist.
After graduation, I grabbed every opportunity I could to not only retrace the journeys I took with my parents but expand on them. I wandered the back roads of south Louisiana, meeting the warm, friendly locals, and gorging on crawfish and boudin. During one of these travels, I happened upon two charming small towns, St. Martinville and Breaux Bridge. Both are situated along the banks of Bayou Teche, which meanders picturesquely through Cajun Country for a hundred and twenty-five miles. St. Martinville proudly bills itself as the “Home of Evangeline,” while Breaux Bridge claims the distinction of being the “Crawfish Capital of the World.”
When it came to creating the fiction village of Pelican, Louisiana featured in my Cajun Country Mysteries, I borrowed memories from visits to these quaint locales. A village green, historic storefronts sporting cast-iron galleries, a church over two hundred and fifty years old – St. Martin de Tours in the semi-eponymously named St. Martinville – all found their way into my imagination as I worked to create a setting readers might fall in love with. (Crozat Plantation Bed and Breakfast, home to the family of my series protagonist, was inspired by the plantations found along Louisiana’s east and west River Roads.)
I get great joy from sharing my passion for this magical region with readers, and nothing makes me happier than when someone tells me, “Now I want to visit Cajun Country.” I hope after reading this, you’ll feel the same way. If you do, let me know and I’ll tell you how to get to the “Home of Evangeline” and the “Crawfish Capital of the World.” Until then, as they say in Louisiana, laissez les bons temps rouler – let the good times roll!
Ellen Byron is the USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author of the Cajun Country Mysteries. Her latest book Murder In The Bayou Boneyard won a Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery.