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How Heather Webber Finds Inspiration in Southern Charm

Author Heather Webber has a knack for writing magical and heart-warming stories, and a lot of the magic comes from their charming Southern setting in Alabama. To prepare for her upcoming book South of the Buttonwood Tree, hear how Heather draws inspiration from the South!


By Heather Webber

“This is the South after all, where there’s always a touch of magic in the air.”

South of the Buttonwood Tree

There was magic in the air on a sundrenched February day in 2007 as I drove a rental car southbound through Alabama, from Birmingham to Wetumpka. Two book events had brought me to the state for the first time, and it was during that ninety minute drive from one event to the other through land rich with tradition, with nature, with community, that something took root in me, a powerful sense of belonging. Of home.

Unfortunately, packing up my family and moving south was impossible, so I settled for the next best thing. I decided to write books set there. During subsequent trips to Alabama, I took copious notes, trying to capture the small details that make a story come alive.

I traveled from county to county, absorbing the heart of the land, its magic. I found it among the tilled fields, the rusted-out school buses laid to rest next to dairy barns. Neighbors chatting over low wooden fences. Smiles at farm stands and art fairs. The ma’ams and sirs. The food. Have mercy, the food. The endless kudzu that winds through the land like history itself. The multitude of church steeples. The humidity. The dusty country roads. The slow pace that allows you to take a look around. A good, long look that lets you catch your breath and appreciate the life around you. Appreciate your life.

I highly recommend visiting Alabama in person if given the chance, but if that isn’t possible, you can always take a quick trip from the comfort of your home through all the great books that use Alabama as a setting or are written by Alabamian authors. Some of my favorites include books by Fannie Flagg, Anne George, Rick Bragg, Joshilyn Jackson, Sean Deitrich, and of course, Harper Lee.

Whichever way you choose to visit Alabama, I hope you find a little magic in the journey. After all, the South is where there’s always a touch of magic in the air—and on the page.

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