Meet Regan O’Leary

I’m Regan O’Leary, author of the Bane Shaw series. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, growing up in the rural southeast part of East Baton Rouge parish. I attended public school, which, although was unequaled to a private school education, was certainly a better educational system than today’s children have. I was very fortunate to attend and graduate from Baton Rouge Magnet High School, #Bulldogs, where I met and was alumni with some of the most brilliant, quirky, and diverse teenagers hailing from all corners of East Baton Rouge Parish. BRHS was a liberal minded institution without indoctrination and it was an ideal setting for a rebel teenage girl who put out just enough academic effort to keep her GPA in a comfortably safe-zone to maintain my enrollment status at the college-prep school. None-the-less, it was four of the best years of my life accompanied with my hotrod ‘Stang, a rock & roll band, and scandalous behavior that included, but wasn’t limited to drag racing down River Road. God is merciful and good as I should have crashed and burned long before my eighteenth birthday.

I grew up in “the country”. It wasn’t a ranch, although we raised cattle, and it wasn’t a farm, despite the large garden in the back pasture that was planted spring and fall. It was just home. I ran bare-footed everywhere I went, year round, except into the grocery store and the like, as my mother said that it was nasty and she would have beaten me within an inch of my life for acting like ‘poor white trash’. Every summer morning was spent in the garden, watering, picking, hoeing, then shelling, snapping, and shucking all preparing for the pressure cooker – rations for the ever-coming winter. Hell, I didn’t know people bought jelly at the grocery store until my late teens: ignorance is bliss.

My brothers and I climbed Gum trees, had gumball fights, walked in the woods eating more blackberries than the bucket ever knew, and we did chores: loads of chores. It’s how you lived.

No cell phones: a large rotary dial in the kitchen; no video games: I was out of high school before I ever touched an Atari; and no cablevision: but we never missed Billy Graham’s Crusade, Miss America pageants, and John Wayne films, along with the accompanying snack of homemade ice cream or dill pickles – yes, home-canned cucumbers.

And we fished. From the time I could hold a rod and reel I was saltwater fishing. I remember tenting on the beaches of Elmer’s Island or the Grand Isle state park. After some years my parents purchased a second-hand travel trailer then eventually a lot on a bay side street in the center of seven-mile barrier island of Grand Isle. We spent many weekends fishing the inland bay and the front of the island for speckled trout and redfish. The best trips in my memory are those that took us offshore. We spent an hour or so fishing inland for bait fish then set our sights, and the bow of the boat, toward the oil rigs.

It’s a magical journey crossing choppy passes to break free into the open Gulf and sail to a place where land has fallen from sight. More thrilling is the feel of a monster fish at the end of the heavy gear, wondering what beast God had allowed to snatch your line. But even more appealing is the smell of the salt, the wind whipping your hair to madness, the gulls’ song, and the insignificance one feels floating on the surface of a tremendous body of water that, below her surface, is home to a myriad of life.

I believe the enchantment of being on the water is best summed up in Henry David Thoreau’s infamous quote: “Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after”.

One particular frightening recollection was a day fishing with friends at the sulfur rig, that seemingly lay on the surface of the green Gulf waters. Sadly, the rig is long since gone. It was a beast, stretching the equivalent of a city block. Watching a worker on a smoke break at the top of the platform, which required you to look straight up to the sky, drop his cigarette into the Gulf between our two boats. He was shouting, which was pointless over the loud moans of the rig, and pointing at the ocean. We finally looked into the water between our vessels to where he was desperately pointing. A 25-foot hammerhead shark had surfaced between our two boats – no wonder we weren’t catching any fish!

Stay tuned. I hope to take you on a wonderful journey around Baton Rouge and south Louisiana. Peace and God Bless.

Leave a Reply