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Throughout the writing of the early titles, this was simply The Georgia Series. After publication of the second title, Sweet Southern Boys, I chose the new name because I see fortitude as one of the defining traits of the main characters in all three of the stories.

Although characteristic of Southerners throughout the region, and for generations, fortitude is particularly characteristic of the largely Scots-Irish denizens of the Southern highlands, where it is also known as pure cussedness. It encompasses more than just mountaineer stubbornness, though. It is the sheer determination to defy defeat, even among the defeated -- or, at least, to refuse the behavior and demeanor of the defeated.

Fortitude explains the refusal of Confederate soldiers -- and their families -- to grovel after the Union's brutal victory and even more brutal "re-unification." Popular culture and some scholarly works (J.W. Cash's Mind of the South, for example) portray white Southerners, especially men, who were not of the aristocracy (that is, poor, as in "poor white"), as whining and shiftless and incessently blaming others for his circumstances. While true in some individual instances, it is this stereotype (and others) -- which I consider not merely unrealistic and largely untrue, but malicious -- that I write to counter.

The primary reason it is untrue is because the "lazy Southerner" was actually a condition resulting from widespread poverty after the war. Many Southerner at that time could not afford shoes and they contracted hookworm from walking barefoot in places where the organisms lived. Hookworm infection resulted in catastrophic iron deficiency anemia, rendering the victim basically incapable of doing much of anything physically. 

Based upon my experience and observation growing up in the last half of the 20th Century, in various places in the Deep South, I believe white Southerners have gotten a bum rap for everything from the civil war to the civil rights movement, from slavery and racism to religious fanaticism. In general, the Southerners I've known are basically hard-working and genial; they possess a healthy balance of contentedness and ambition.  They love to work and they love to play; they are no more judgmental and intolerant than folks from other regions, and they have remarkably long fuses.

How this fortitude, and other regional characteristics, manifest in individuals -- both men and women, but especially men -- is one of the threads woven throughtout my writing, and particularly in this series. How they respond to sudden adversity is at the heart of the stories in the Legacy of Fortitude series.


A Sense of Place

The sense of place that pervades the South is much more profound than these descriptions, but these might give readers some insights into the way that awareness influenced these stories. 

Verona, Georgia -- Verona was inspired by Valdosta, Georgia, and sits in approximately the same location, in extreme south Georgia, just a half-hour north of the Florida line. But the fictional town is not Valdosta with the name changed. There are many similarities, however. Incidentally, I have never been to Valdosta.

In both population and area, Verona is about half the size of Valdosta. The fictional town's population is about 25,000. It is the home of Verona State University. Downtown lies a few miles to the west of Interstate 75. Because of its proximity to I-75's intersection with Interstate 10 in northern Florida, Verona is a manufacturing and warehousing/distribution center.

Valdosta has nearby Moody Air Force Base; Verona has nearby Martin Air Force Base. Valdosta has the Little River; Verona the Oostachula River. And they both have the Okefenokee Swamp not far to the east. Just a little further on, the Atlantic coast with Jacksonville, Brunswick and Savannah lie within easy driving distance.

The Crow River in Chatahoula County. The Crow is a fictional tributary of the very real Tombigbee River which is part of the Tennesssee-Tombigbee Waterway. Prone to flooding in rainy seasons, it is smallish and not commercially navigable, per the hero of Smallfoot Alley, and is used exclusively by recreational craft. It runs somewhat parallel to the state highway where Smallfood sightings have become increasingly common. Chatahoula County is fictional, as well, and located approximately in the same area as Clarke County, Alabama, once known as The Canebrake, where native bamboo was prolific in the past, but now basically extinct.

Pensacola, Florida , Capital of L.A. -- Lower Alabama, a nickname for the Florida panhandle, home of some of Florida's most beautiful beaches and a periodic target of destructive  hurricanes. Pensacola sits atop the curving shoreline of the  upper coast of the Gulf of Mexico -- America's Mediterranean.  The site of Storm Surge, Pensacola is a marvelous setting for storytellers. The first settlement by Europeans in the New World, though not the oldest continuous settlement (that designation belongs to St. Augustine, on the Atlantic coast), it is steeped in history. It is home to the Navy's Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels, and lots of avid fishermen, beachgoers, and sports fans. 

 

Video Trailers
Southern Man 

Sweet Southern Boys

Smallfoot Alley

Wesley's Women

 

 
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Original Material © Copyright 2019 by Connie Chastain