Yvette Landry grew up in Breaux Bridge, La. After earning a master’s degree in education and developing a successful teaching career, she began telling stories through song. Playing a variety of instruments in several Cajun bands, Landry also fronts her own band. In her first children’s story, The Ghost Tree, Yvette’s childhood experiences once again contribute to a tale rich with the intrigue and adventure that only the Louisiana swamps can provide.
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The Ghost Tree
In her first children's story, The Ghost Tree, Singer-Songwriter Yvette Landry's Cajun childhood contributes to a tale rich with the intrigue and adventure that only the Louisiana swamps can provide.
The story begins in her ancestral home, the small, somewhat isolated community of Isle Labbé, and ends in the swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin. Her grandfather tells her of an ancient Native American legend: A cursed tree that comes to life every Halloween. Unlucky travelers who stumble across the tree on that fateful night are never seen again. He would know after all, he's the only one ever to survive an encounter with...the Ghost Tree.
Q & A
What is the most important lesson readers can learn from your book?
Much like the swamp, the world that we live in can be dangerous and foreboding. We all face difficulties at some point. Yet through stories, whether they come from a book, friends, or family, we often find the wisdom and sometimes just the plain, good sense that it takes to maneuver our way through.
What motivated you to tell this story?
The answer to this is kind of long, but a great story in itself. You see, I was staying at a friend’s house in Maine for a concert that I was giving there. Earlier that afternoon, my friend came to get me at the airport with his two young sons. They had never met me before and when I was introduced to them, they kept calling me the “Asian Lady.” When I asked their father why this was, he told me that he had been telling the boys that a “Cajun Lady” would be staying with them. Suffice it to say, they had no clue what a “Cajun Lady” was, so they called me the “Asian Lady!” Anyway, when we arrived at the house the boys were super excited and started running around everywhere wanting me to play ball, watch them ride bikes, etc. At one point, the younger of the two (who was being potty trained at the time and running around in nothing but his birthday suit) froze in the front yard. His mom yelled from the kitchen window, “Do you need to go to the potty?!?!?” Still frozen, he nodded his head yes. She came running out of the house, scooped him up, threw him over her shoulder and started running to the house. At this point, he started throwing a fit saying…and I quote…”I’m not going unless the Asian Lady comes!!!!!!” Sooooo, the mom, whom I had never met , looked at me and said, “I can’t even believe I’m gonna ask this, but…” I nodded yes and we both took off running to the bathroom. So there I was, shut in a tiny little bathroom with a two-year-old sitting on the potty, a four-year-old sitting under the sink, and me, hugging the toilet. At this point, the little one looks at me and said, “Asian Lady, tell me a story about Asian land.” And that is where the story came from!
What was the most enjoyable part of the process of writing this book?
Of course the entire process has been phenomenal, but I think that working with the people I have met since this project began (Cullen Bernard, Greg Guirard, Jim Davis, Darrell Bourque, etc.) has been a life-changing experience.
How do you think this story resonates with Louisiana?
Well, for starters, the setting − not only the swamp, but also the tiny places like Isle Labbe and Catahoula − were a big part of my childhood. I’m sure this is true for many others, too. When people think of Louisiana, most think of New Orleans. Yet for me, it’s the closeness of the small-town families and their communities that make Louisiana what it is.
What excites you about the festival?
This is a new chapter for me. I’ve been an educator for twenty-three years. Each day I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be a positive influence in my students’ lives. Yet during that time, I never thought of myself as an “author/writer,” but what I’ve come to realize, only recently, is that for twenty-three years, I’ve been a story-teller! Nearly every day of my adult life has begun or ended with a story! This festival is a way for me to continue to be a positive influence on a greater number of students than I would normally have access to.
What should people look forward to by coming to your presentation at the festival?
That’s a tough one, but I hope that some enjoyment will come to my audience from the realization that our paths are not set in stone. Life is out there and it is full of surprises! (I might even play a song or two!)
Is there anything that you’d like to add?
Perhaps a blurb about my being a musician/song-writer. Never thought I’d do that either…but here I am!!
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