Otherwordly Inspiration

Inspiration can come from anywhere and varies from writer to writer. For me, the eerie influences of New Orleans have created the ghosts, voodoo tales, and twisted characters appearing in many of my novels. The Magnus Blackwell Series with Lucas Astor is no different. What starts out as a ghost story, morphs into a thrilling supernatural series drenched with all the mystical and mysterious conjured by images of my hometown. 

Living with the paranormal in the Big Easy is a part of life like red beans and rice on Mondays and steamy showers every summer afternoon. We talk to them, nurture them, and celebrate their influence in a variety of festivals, superstitions, and traditions. From decorating our cemeteries every November first to touting ghost tours of their famous haunts, the dead coexist with the living. Like the Ancient Egyptians, death is life to New Orleans. And in Bound—the second book in the Magnus Blackwell Series—the veil between the living and the dead becomes blurred through a series of uncanny events. Can such a thing really happen? In our little bastion ten feet below sea level, anything is possible. So, if you ever find yourself strolling a misty street in the French Quarter one spring evening, don’t be too surprised if you hear footsteps sticking close. Magnus Blackwell might be tagging along to make sure you are not alone.

More than the ethereal elements in my stories, it’s the voodoo influence that often sets my readers’ teeth on edge. The idea of magic being such an integral part of life frightens many, but not New Orleanians. Celebrating a voodoo ritual is much like a Mardi Gras parade to us. We cherish what others deem macabre and regard the history of the dark arts as part of the gumbo making our way of life so unique. In a town where magic is truth, and justice isn’t always left to the police, voodoo is regarded as a necessity. Growing up, I had the pleasure of living next door to a voodoo priestess who taught me about the power of belief. Magic comes from within, and despite the stigma of evil, voodoo is recognized by those who know it best as a way to send a wish into the universe to help it manifest. In the Magnus Blackwell Series—the power of voodoo changes the course of several lives and allows something good to result from the darkest of actions. Is voodoo the devil’s playground? I know many who would disagree.

But it’s the odd, deranged, demented, and over-the-top characters found in this series which remind me most of home. It’s as if the three-hundred years of history trapped inside the plaster and cypress buildings of the French Quarter have rubbed off on its inhabitants. Like the characters in the Magnus Blackwell Series, the city’s population is eager to embrace everything modern while keeping the past alive in their hearts. The melding of old and new is nowhere more evident than in the faces of those who dwell in those Creole cottages or pace their romantic wrought iron balconies. Their eccentricities, fervor, devotions, and beliefs have shaped this series of novels, and all my books, in incredible ways. The people of this city are its greatest strength and its most everlasting tribute to all those who have lived on this boggy stretch along the Mississippi River.  

Many writers credit a person or interest for their story ideas, but few have ever mentioned a city. And the ones who have, at some point, called New Orleans home. Her sultry and sweet ambiance will always drift through my novels, no matter the place or time in which they occur. Once New Orleans captures you, heart and soul, she will be with you always, and your life will be so much sweeter for it.