Sherman releases second novel 'Zion'

Thursday, November 13, 2014Dayne Sherman
by: Rene Abadie

HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University Professor Dayne Sherman of Ponchatoula has released his second novel, "Zion," a mystery based on a true story that takes place in rural south Louisiana.

The author of the novel "Welcome to the Fallen Paradise," and more than 20 short stories, Sherman chronicles the story of increased restrictions and limitations on residents and small farmers by large timber companies seeking to replace hardwood forests with more lucrative pine trees.

The disputes that follow led to the demise of open range policies in the early 1960s that allowed small farmers and ranchers to graze their livestock and to enjoy the good hunting lands treasured by generations of area dwellers, said Sherman, a professor of library science at Southeastern's Sims Memorial Library.

"One day while talking to a distant cousin, Ron Traylor in the Department of History and Political Science, I learned about this old dispute over the killing of hardwoods like oak and replacing them with faster growing pines," recalls Sherman.

The resultant feud led to the timber wars that followed in which pine forests became the attention of arsonists. The conflict was heralded by the slogan of the locals, "For Every Oak a Pine."

Knowing a good story when he hears one, Sherman immediately began writing his fictionalized version and within a few days had finished a third of the novel.

"It took seven years to complete the rest of the novel, but I was on a clear path," he said.

Sherman's story takes place in his fictional Baxter Parish in rural Louisiana, which he created and popularized in "Welcome to the Fallen Paradise." A sometimes violent and bloody locale, Baxter Parish is populated with tight knit families whose beliefs are forged in small community churches, such as the Little Zion Methodist Church in "Zion."

Philip Shirley, author of "The White Lie," says Sherman's story is a channeling of Deep South author Erskine Caldwell – writer of "Tobacco Road," and "God's Little Acre" – where the reader sees the flaws in good, rural Southern folks and a glimmer of hope for the evil ones. "This is a compelling story of coming of age in a small town," Shirley notes, "of the consequences of greed and selfishness, of the natural struggles between father and son and husband and wife, and of the terror and consequences of getting caught for evil deeds that seemingly ordinary people sometimes hid from their families."

Distributed by Sherman's own independent publishing company Accendo Books, "Zion" is available through Amazon Books and other retailers.


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