New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jana DeLeon was raised in southwest Louisiana among the bayous and gators. Her hometown is Carlyss, but you probably won’t find it on a map. Her family owned a camp located on a bayou just off the Gulf of Mexico that you could only get to by boat. The most important feature was the rope hammock hanging in the shade on a huge deck that stretched out over the water where Jana spent many hours reading books.
Jana and her brother spent thousands of hours combing the bayous in a flat-bottomed aluminum boat, studying the natural habitat of many birds, nutria and alligators. She would like you to know that no animals were injured during these “studies,” but they kept makers of peroxide in business.
Jana has never stumbled across a mystery or a ghost like her heroines, but she’s still hopeful.
She now resides in Dallas, Texas, with the most spoiled Sheltie in the world.
Jana DeLeon is a former CFO who jumped off the corporate ladder to write books. Here’s a bit more:
You grew up in southern Lousiana – what part?
My family home was in Carlyss, but you probably won’t find it on a map. It’s closest to the town of Sulphur, where I attended high school. The nearest big city is Lake Charles.
You write about bayou settings – have you spent much time on the bayou?
Yes, quite a bit. My family had a camp (otherwise known as a lakehouse) in the city of Cameron, just off the Gulf coast. You could only get there by boat. The first camp was a lot rougher than the second, but they both had electricity. The second had better plumbing (no more bathing in the kitchen sink or waiting for a good rainstorm) and actually had a hot water heater. The camp sat on a little hill with the bayou running in front of it and marsh surrounding it on every side. It had a long pier and a huge deck over the bayou. The deck had a cover over one section and a huge rope hammock hanging in the shade. I spent a lot of hours reading in that hammock.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Rita sort of erased Cameron from the map and now nothing is left on the bayous or of the town. It’s very sad for too many reasons to list.
Have you ever seen an alligator?
*Laughs* All the time. The camp sat just outside of the game preserve so there was never a shortage of alligator sightings. But they never bothered anyone and we swam all the time. My brother and I took a flat-bottomed aluminum boat down hundreds of cuts on that bayou and scouted out every patch of land in the area. We never ran into any trouble, but I guess things have changed given the reports of alligator attacks in Florida.
Growing up so close to the coast, did you eat a lot of seafood?
Absolutely. My family owned a barge and we caught our own shrimp – which results in a lot of fish and crab as an added benefit. We had three commercial-sized deep freezers at home and they were full every year after shrimp season. It was very common for us to eat seafood three to five times a week. I still miss that part!
Will all of your books have Louisiana settings?
That’s the plan. I loved living in Louisiana. I loved the culture, the freedom of being on the bayou and all the exploring and fun I had growing up there. I love the dynamics of small towns and the people who live in them. At this point, I can’t see writing anything else. I wouldn’t even want to try.