The Story Behind DOLLBABY by Laura L. McNeal
If you ask me why I became a writer, and more specifically, why I wrote
DOLLBABY, I can answer with two words: Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans in August of 2005, leaving over
eighty percent of the city under water for weeks, stranding our extended
family for months. When we were finally able to return to a still dark
neighborhood, I struggled to put my life back together. It would take
two years, rebuilding not only our home, but our way of life. There were
nagging accusations from politicians in far-flung places who argued that
a city that was below sea level should never be rebuilt. As much as it
angered me to hear this, it gave me a renewed determination to do two
things: to embark on the writing career I had put off for so many years,
and to write about the New Orleans that was and never would be again.
DOLLBABY is the culmination of those goals, a story of a way of life
that no longer exists but needs to be told, an enduring story of love,
hate, family and redemption. It is the story of New Orleans, where you
learn to dance, even when there is no music.
One of the enduring things about New Orleans that makes it such a
distinct city is that there is no ‘other side of the railroad tracks’ or
‘south side of the city.’ New Orleans has always been a place where
people from all walks of life live in close proximity, creating a shared
culture that is unique to the city. This is one of the things I tried to
portray in the novel, a sort of commonality that exists regardless of
race or background, a diversity that goes beyond skin color or place of
birth. The novel lends a glimpse of what it was like to live in such a
culture, one that I felt needed brought to life after the flooding and
devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina. And it is for the people of
our city that I told the story of DOLLBABY.