My friend and mystery writer Kate Kulig is here to tell us about a place I've always wanted to go, New Orleans.
It's really hard to talk about Hallow'en in North America and not mention New Orleans. The Crescent City is full of haunted places and spooky things, and for some very good reasons. The nifty people at Paranormal Books talk about this at some length, but I want to share the top three:
1) Catastrophe--New Orleans has these in spades all through its history since its founding 1718. Not just hurricanes, but plagues like yellow fever, war, major fires. If someone dies in a tragic fashion in such a situation, it's easy to imagine work left undone, a common motive attributed to corporeally challenged.
2) Violence. Last I looked (and I look at this one often when researching the Bloody Murder mysteries), New Orleans had outpaced New York City for murders and they're even catching up to Detroit. Talk about vengeful spirit potential. Add in a few more ingredients and stir: Duels were a not uncommon way to solve problems in the 18th Century, which led to no small amount of dead bodies. The picturesque Jackson Square that we know of with its cultivated gated gardens surrounded by street performers, artists and fortune tellers used to be the site of many a public hanging.
3) Drama. Picture it: There's a horrible argument. The mistress dies tragically. With each retelling, she is younger, more beautiful, and wearing fewer clothes The death was accident? Or was it suicide? Either way, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
As an aside, I find Scorned Woman to be the best hot sauce in the city.
There's also the fascinating, intriguing world of Santeria, which many people refer to as Vaudun or voodoo. Candles, spirits, animal (and maybe human?) sacrifices, remote but beautiful women--often black and with Caribbean Island accents. The famous Marie LaVeau fit this description almost to a T. Her parents were mulatto and she was a Free Woman of Color (Feliz is descended from a woman of similar background). Rumors of Marie LaVeau abound. The ones I like best have her running the best information network in the city. Not quite like Zo's Royal Street Irregulars. LaVeau, reportedly, held a lot of power in New Orleans due to some well-placed blackmail.
She was also Catholic, though practiced some form of voodoo as well. When plantation owners in Haiti forbade slaves to practice voodoo, many combined their traditional African worship with Catholicism. Some Catholic saints and some Voodoo spirits have common traits, and many slaves were outwardly Catholic while still practicing their own religion.
Marie Laveau is still revered to this day. I took a cemetery tour with a lovely woman from the Voodoo Musuem, and her tomb was covered with offerings like bunches of flowers, coins, toys, and jewelry. The priest who baptized her and performed her marriage, Pere Antoine, is sometimes seen at St. Louis Cathedral.
Kate Kulig is the author of the Bloody Murder Mystery Series that takes place in New Orleans at the Bloody Murder Bookstore. I really liked the first two books and upon receiving my advanced copy of the third I jumped right in.
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The 3rd book Snow Job is not out until November, but you can purchase it in advance so that you get your copy on release day!!!