Rediscovering your roots

newfound_gap_vistaI grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. I barely saw the beauty of the mountains, hardly noticed the verdant valleys and roaring streams, couldn’t find an ounce of appeal in the winding country roads. I refused to wear cowboy boots and flicked the dial at the first twang of a country tune. I fought everything about the place.

Fast forward a couple of decades. By now I’ve lived on two continents and speak Dutch like a native. I’ve learned to tame my accent in English to more southern belle, less country hick. My wanderlust is still strong, so much so I had to have pages added to my passport. My old life in Tennessee feels a million miles away.

And then I began writing my second book. For some reason I didn’t really think about at the time, I set my story in Rogersville, a tiny blip on the map about a half hour from where I grew up. My heroine, a woman with a gypsy soul who fled Rogersville the summer after high school, thought she’d never return. Write what you know, right?

I thought the country music I started listening to was purely for research purposes. I thought I would have to dig deep to remember the area’s landmarks and expressions and speech patterns. I thought nothing could make me fall in love with a place I spent the first two decades of my life trying to escape.

I was wrong about all three. Because sometime in the course of writing that story, I began to appreciate the slower pace of Appalachia, to feel homesick for the blue ridges and green valleys, to long for a tiny slice of Dixie, just for a day or two. I’ve dusted off my old boots and downloaded every song on the country billboard list. And as soon as I stopped fighting the pull of my old home, I felt it, just like my character did – that cool mountain water flowing through my veins.

All along, I thought I just had wings, but turns out I have roots, too.


About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (, Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at

Posted on March 1, 2013, in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What a beautiful post, Kimberle. I understand what you’re talking about because I did a similar thing when I was younger. I left the U.S. for my junior year abroad to study at the U. of Madrid and I told my parents I wasn’t coming back. Long story short, after living abroad for a year I flew home and kissed the ground when I got off the plane. I love it here in the U.S. and yet didn’t appreciate any of it until I left.
    Good story.

  2. Home is where your story begins. I didn’t make that up. It’s a sign hanging in my house, but it applies here. 😉 Nice post, Kimberle.

  3. I love your post, Kimberle. And I love Tracy’s sign “Home is where your story begins.” You make me want to revisit my past. 🙂

  4. Christy Hayes

    Such beautiful words truly spoken from the heart. Thanks for sharing your journey, Kimberle! Can’t wait to read your story.

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