"The skiff floated deep and straight like a water trough. . . or coffin. The more I studied that set up, the dog seemed the most normal thing about it. " 

from Chapter 1, Postmark Bayou Chene

Gwen Roland


The old stories that I had heard all of my life begged to come alive with bated breath, dirty faces and the heft of wet petticoats pulling into the current. Fans of Atchafalaya Houseboat sought me out, wanting more details of daily life back when the vanished community of Bayou Chene was still vibrant. Their questions coincided with my own growing curiosity. So I anchored the old anecdotes with cultural research, and then I turned loose my imagination to fill in the blanks for a novel set in 1907. 

For my step back in time in the 1970s, I moved deep into Louisiana's Atchafalaya Swamp where my ancestors had settled before the Civil War.  I shared my adventures through magazine and newspaper articles. In 2006, LSU Press reprinted those essays in my memoir Atchafalaya Houseboat. The book inspired the popular PBS documentary by the same name.

​​"Since ink smears when it gets wet, I used pencils on a yellow legal pad propped against the black Mercury outboard motor. Whenever it was time for me to crank the motor and run us to the next line or net, I'd sit on the pad to keep it from blowing away." 

from the Prologue, Atchafalaya Houseboat

"Sometimes you need to just step back, take a deep breath and wear someone else’s clothes, even if it’s a corset. "   Gwen Roland