Monday, February 1, 2016


On the return trip to New Iberia, Louisiana from Frostproof, Florida, we veered off course and stopped in Cross Creek to lunch with Jo Ann Lordahl, a long-time friend and author who has again settled in north central Florida after living fourteen years in Hawaii. We passed through scrub country, marshes and oak hammocks, and met Jo Ann at “The Yearling,” a large restaurant named after the book of that name written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Jo Ann has settled a mile or so down the road from the home site of Rawlings (now a national park) and has chosen to “woodshed” and work on her memoir in the environment that inspired Rawlings to write The Yearling.

Jo Ann’s last book, A Secret Kept in Hawaii is a novel based in Kauai, a Hawaiian island where she lived and wrote about the threats to the good life of the postmodern world – GMOs, aggressive global corporations, military and governmental misdemeanors. She also captured the magic of this garden island and continued the story of how Samantha, a haole newcomer, settled into Hawaiian life permeated with the memory of High Chiefess Ruth. When Jo Ann read and dreamed about this native woman who was filled with mana power, she became inspired to probe into and relate the history, spirit, and culture of Hawaii.

Jo Ann returned to Florida last year and says she has moved her writing base approximately 100 times. She’s a “romantic, nomadic writer,” having published 23 books based in different locales. She lived briefly in Louisiana, and her books about the Pelican State can be found on a website bearing her name that lists her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books. In addition to being an author, Jo Ann has a PhD in Psychology and presents workshops on self-improvement and writing. She has coordinated Women’s Voices, a performance-based poetry group in Florida, a lyric play entitled Four Women Speak, and her fellowships and residencies include the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida, and the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, California; Ucross, Wyoming.

We talked about Jo Ann’s latest, the memoir she is writing entitled My Unveiled Face: A Free Woman, in which she draws on material in 93 journals that she has kept during her lifetime, some of which have provided fodder for the stories and novels listed on her site. She plans to complete the memoir by April of this year, alternately writing and leading a poetry group in Gainesville, Florida.

We had to travel fast to reach Crestview, Florida, where we had booked lodging, before dark. We were treated to one of the wonderful sunsets prevalent on the Florida landscape just as we reached our destination, happy to have stopped for a reunion with a close friend we’ve known 38 years and who always inspires us to remain committed to the writing craft.

Photographs by Victoria I Sullivan


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