The new Whippoorwill Award goes annually to ten distinguished books of fiction for young adults that deal with rural people and places.

The books chosen for the award should:

• Address universal truths, problems, topics and issues.

• Have an enduring quality that leaves a lasting impression.

• Utilize interesting and unique language, style and word play.

To my mind, those qualities describe COPYBOY perfectly.

One of my incentives for writing the book was to explore in an in-depth way the wonderful world of the rural Cajun people of south Louisiana. I came to know these wonderful folk and their music, food and joie de vivre as a short-time resident of New Orleans and then as a freshman at Louisiana State University where I had a roommate who grew up in the swamps and lowlands south of New Orleans. When I left Louisiana in the mid-1960s, I felt I was leaving behind something special, and I was correct.

Cajun culture and language are becoming assimilated into the wider American ethic. The vitality of the people is being lost. The vibrant personalities can still be found, but you must search harder.

When I finished writing COPYBOY, I asked a friend from south Louisiana if he could go over some of my French-Cajun spellings, idioms and word choices to make sure I had everything right. His answer in pure patois epitomized the Cajun way of thinking:

No need, sure. How some ever you wants to speech it, dat be right.

COPYBOY stands proud to be among the ten distinguished books on the Whippoorwill list for 2018.

And here’s to the wonderful people known as Cajuns, whose language and way of life are disappearing as quickly as the southern land mass of Louisiana.

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