Inspiration for my debut novel Bycatch flowed from many sources, including my childhood memories of the Vietnam War, time in service with the Air Force, acquaintances in the Biloxi seafood industry, and passion for history. In the September 1981 edition of National Geographic, an article, “Troubled Odyssey of Vietnamese Fisherman,” piqued my interest and planted a story seed in my brain. The article’s author, Harvey Arden, chronicles the struggles many Vietnamese immigrants who were part of the post-war diaspora faced when they came to places in America like Biloxi.
Since the article was written, the Vietnamese community in Biloxi has significantly changed. The Vietnamese have succeeded in establishing themselves in the seafood industry while pushing their children and grandchildren into the professions of medicine, law, and business. Their tight-knit neighborhood on Biloxi’s Point Cadet was destroyed in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, scattering the community across the Coast. Still, the sense of extended family is strong, and their traditions of culture and religion persist.