Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Atchafalaya Swamp, by Rita Monette

The Atchafalaya Swamp

by Rita Monette

If you read any of my swamp legend books, you will almost certainly come across this long word. Atchafalaya comes from the Choctaw term hacha falaia meaning “long river,” and it’s pronounced pretty much like they said it. 

The Atchafalaya Swamp or basin is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States, with an area of 1,400,000 acres, including the swamps outside of the levees that historically were connected to the basin. It surrounds the plain of the Atchafalaya River, which flows through parts of eight parishes in Louisiana, ending in Morgan City, then into the gulf. 

The basin is filled with bayous, bald cypress swamps, and marshes, and being susceptible to long periods of deep flooding, is sparsely inhabited.

The few roads that cross it follow the tops of levees, except for Interstate 10, which crosses the basin on an 18-mile bridge.

For more beautiful photos of this awesome swamp:

In my new release, The Curse at Pirate’s Cove, Nikki Landry and her friends find out just how big that swamp is!

Here's an excerpt from the chapter where Nikki and her friends are making their way through the swamp after escaping from a ghostly pirates ship.

  Our longboat didn’t take the twists and turns as easy as a pirogue, but it kept us out of the water. Thank God for that.

  As the boat crept along, we got quiet and watched the bank. It even seemed like the critters in the swamp went silent along with us. Snooper, who was against my leg, growled real low. I rubbed his ears. I had the creepy feeling someone was watching us, and so did Snoop. The dark closed in to almost total blackness. The moon made tiny lights on the water. They blinked and flickered like fireflies as the oars slid us slowly along. I listened for anything that didn’t sound like normal swamp sounds. A mosquito whined loudly around my ear. I slapped my face. Nothing unusual…except for my stomach grumbling.

  Then, a loud barking and snarling pierced the night like a sharp knife. Snooper stood up and returned the racket, only his wasn’t quite as fierce.

  Spikes and Tommy dug the oars in and pulled as hard as they could. The boat moved fast—too fast for a place we didn’t know and in the dark.

  “Okay, guys, slow down,” Patti said. “I think we’re past the dog…or whatever that was.”

  “Yeah,” I said. “We can’t see where we’re go—” My body came out of my seat and tumbled across the boat. My arm hit one of the oar locks as I flipped over the edge and into the water.

  “We hit something,” Spikes shouted. “I dropped my oar in the water.”

  “Forget the oar!” Patti hollered. “Nikki’s overboard.”

  I tried to grab onto the side of the boat, but it slipped from my hand. I couldn’t see anything to grab onto or which way to swim. I began to worry about what was in the water with me. Papa said gators look for food at night, but didn’t mess with people unless they got real hungry or they got too close to their nest. I prayed none of ’em around here were hungry enough to eat a girl. Something caught hold of my overalls strap and pulled me away from the boat.

  “Nikki, where are you?” Patti’s voice shook.

  “I forgot,” Spikes said. “I still have my flashlight. I hope it still works…it’s supposed to be waterproof.” The light came on. “We’ll find her.”

  I heard my friends talking in the darkness, but whatever had my clothes hung on tight. The beam from Spike’s flashlight moved farther away. I kicked at the water and screamed, “I’m over here.” I couldn’t imagine what had hold of me and what it might do to me. “Hurry.” I felt teeth digging into the back of my shirt. It’s over.

If you enjoyed Nikki's adventure in The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, you'll love, The Curse at  Pirate's Cove. Available at Mirror World Publishing, Amazon, or anywhere books are sold. Watch for the third swamp adventure, The Secret in Mossy Swamp (Legend of the Rougou) later this year.

If you'd prefer a signed copy of either book, email me at