I lived in Kingsport, Tennessee until I was thirteen when my mother, step-father, and I moved to Northern Virginia. Now my entire family lives there again, and I’m the only one who lives in “Yankee land” as my father likes to call it.
My novel, Song from the Ashes, is set in my hometown. I did this for several reasons. Like Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence upon which my novel is based, the main characters are plagued by gossip and scrutiny. This is not to say that my hometown is a hotbed of gossip, but small towns breed a certain amount of talk and speculation. The idea that everyone knows everyone’s business is still very true in Kingsport neighborhoods. Also, there remains a very strong presence of faith. Church Circle is a round-about upon which four or five churches of all different denominations sit. (And just behind that and down adjacent streets, there are many more churches). Finally, Kingsport is a town with a mixture of all socio-economic levels, beautiful sceneries (mountains and lakes nearby), and within easy-driving distance of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Around 51,500 people call Kingsport home, and it’s not hard to see why. Kingsport retains a friendliness and warmth common in small towns several decades ago. Distinctly southern and proud of it, people still greet one another on the streets, and it is not at all unusual for someone to live their entire life in Kingsport or retire and move back.
For me and many others, Kingsport is the perfect place to call home.