Saturday, August 25, 2012

 Another question from a fan:
J.C. of Mamaroneck, New York writes:  A tour guild told me that 127 slaves died in the fire at the Lalaurie Mansion.  Is this true?

A fire broke out on April 10, 1834 at 1140 Royal Street revealing a number of slaves who had been malnourished and mistreated.  The best historical record seems to indicate that seven such slaves were found in the upper level of the kitchen annex.   Madame Lalaurie appears to have owned about 40 slaves during her lifetime.  The condition of the seven who were rescued was enough to seal the Lalauries' reputation as "monsters" when over 2,000 people showed up at the Cabildo in New Orleans to view the victims and see if the local newspaper reports were true.  I don't give a number in my book, but like the urban legend that suggests more than seven.  On the other hand, 127 is ridiculous.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Recently some fans have sent in a few questions.

MF in Florida wants to know, "Did Marie Laveau and Delphine Lalaurie actually know each other?
One of the things that led me to write this story is that it deals with a time when the two most influential people in New Orleans were both women.  Because of their social influence and the fact that they lived within walking distance of each other, there can be little doubt that each was well aware of the other.  On the other hand, at that time it would have been most unlikely that a woman of Delphine Lalaurie's social standing in the French Creole community would associate with a free woman of color such as Marie Laveau.  Still, the fictional connections in my book are not entirely impossible.  The fun part of historical fiction is the "what if "factor and my goal is to entertain.

TB in Arizona asks:  Most accounts I have read say that Delphine Lalaurie was killed by a wild boar in France.  Is that what happens in your book?
The jury is still out as to the date, place and manner of Madame Lalaurie's death, but there is some evidence to indicate that she may have returned to New Orleans and died in her bed.  I won't reveal what happens to her in my book, but telling fans of this legend that she just died in her bed is, to me, a bit like standing in Macy's at Christmas time and telling kids there is no Santa Claus.

RJ in Louisiana said:  I had a chance to read an advance copy and on the second read, I discovered that your story appears to be written on multiple levels.  Am I right?
Well, that is at least is what I tried to accomplish.  On the surface, it is a new spin on an old horror legend.  It is also a meditation on the question of life after death as witnessed by a man whose mother's rosary beads serve as an uncut umbilical cord that prevents him from maturing spiritually.  I have a personal hang-up about how some writers tend to overuse the word "turn" and so there are only two "turns "in my book. One is when my protagonist "turns" into Pirates Alley at the beginning of the story and the other when he "turns" out of it as he reaches the final plot point.  Pirates Alley becomes his "yellow brick road" as he moves through the various "monomyth" steps of his hero's journey.  A clue to this is that he lives in a yellow brick house (which in the real world is located about where the yellow brick building that once was home to William Faulkner now stands).  Since my protagonist is a bookworm, I think he would have liked that touch. The occasions when he offers bread, and later wine, to a runaway slave also have symbolic significance in the story.

Got a question of your own?  Tweet me at

Saturday, August 11, 2012


G. Bernard Ray, author of The Final Shortcut

G. Bernard Ray is, like me, an avid traveler and has spent time living in both Mexico and the Caribbean (places where I do mission work for orphaned children).  We also share an interest in writing horror fiction.  His novel, The Final Shortcut tells of a federal agent who stumbles upon evidence leading to a psychotic serial killer in Kentucky's Bluegrass Mountains.  He doesn't shy away from the gruesome when it adds to the story and shares my enjoyment of horror told in a cinematic style.  Ray good bet if you are looking for a thriller.

Juanima Hiatt, author of The Invisible Storm

In the realm of non-fiction, Juanima Hiatt courageously reveals the pain of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in her powerful memoir The Invisible Storm.  A victim of multiple rapes and abuse as a child, Hiatt breaks her silence in hopes that this work will help others discover freedom beyond their pain.  I am sharing her book with the staff at my orphanage in Mexico where we see versions of this story all too often.

Brenda Sorrels, author of The Bachelor Farmers

Set in Northern Minnesota in the winter of 1919, The Bachelor Farmers tells a story of two Norwegian brothers who learn the meaning of love after one of them hires an Ojibwa woman to help them and falls in love.  Brenda captures the reality of a Minnesota blizzard (I've experienced many as a native Minnesotan) and she artfully explores the world of immigrants and the complexity of relationships, themes that are important to me.

Deanna Lynn Sletten author of Sara's Promise (and more)

Deanna lives near my old home in Northern Minnesota and is an author who writes "women's fiction"(but I suspect a fair number of men will enjoy her work, as well). Deanna's books include, "Widow, Virgin, Whore", "Memories", and "Outlaw Heroes", a fiction adventure novel for kids ages 10 & up. Deanna's next novel, "Sara's Promise", will be available in December 2012.

Kenneth Weene author of Tales From the Dew Drop Inn (and more)

My fellow Arizonan, Ken Weene, wrote Tales From the Dew Drop Inn with a dark humor and irreverent style that is right up my alley.  His talents as a playwright, poet and novelist are increasingly celebrated here in the Grand Canyon State and do to his proximity to me; this is one author I may actually get to meet someday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Image of Madame Lalaurie by artist John Weston for the cover of L'Immortalite