When I was invited to submit an article about my book “Dark Desire” to the Authors’ Lounge, I jumped at the opportunity. What Author wouldn’t enjoy talking about a tale of love, lust, ghosts, Vampires, a Voodoo Priestess, and two young lovers, fighting against irresistible forces to keep themselves and their love alive. Readers…be aware not all the panting in this story is from their exertions.
Writing this Paranormal Romance Thriller, brought me back to my experiences visiting the old and much storied places, in, and around New Orleans. My story is set in a small Louisiana Parrish, the mysterious, dangerous bayou at its doorstep. The smell of swamp mud and verdant bayou flora, along with the wide variety of slithering, creeping, screeching, wild life, transport one to a primitive world and submerge the senses inside a rich, bubbling stew. The mind and imagination are easily carried away with superstitious fears of a place we clearly don’t belong and are never going to be a part of.
Unlike my protagonist, the lovely Maggie Newsome, during my time in and around New Orleans, I was not besieged by a Vampiric hunk driven by an all-consuming passion. Likewise, the closest I came to encountering a Voodoo Priestess, was a tourist-weary Tarot Card Reader, who uncannily predicted my future divorce. Unfortunately, my soon-to-be-ex sat on the other side of a tatty, red velvet curtain. I’m still regretting not asking for the winning lottery numbers.
Research for this period tale, helped to draw a picture of how life looked in the early 1900’s in the country, and around the towns along the bayou in particular. I referenced the important industries flourishing in the area during that period, to give Maggie’s loving fiancé something to substantiate his wealth, and flesh him out as a main character. To my mind, there are no marginal characters in a book. They should all bring something significant to the story, and help move along the narrative and plot. For me, some of these side-characters tend to dangle like rock climbers over a deep chasm. Tying-off some of the loose ends this creates, is paramount, otherwise they can make a story drift. This is one of my biggest challenges since my mind tends to bubble inside a witch’s caldron of imagination! But then, I’m sure you already knew how tricky sub-actors can be to a story, so just consider this another bubble rising to the surface.
Vivid memories of exploration during my visits to this complex and historic city, definitely contributed to my writing “Dark Desire.” A boat trip into the bayou, provided a birds-eye-view into a world as remote to my own, as it would be to a cloistered nun. The long tendrils of grayish moss, hanging off every tree like decorations in a haunted house; the thick primordial soup of the bayou waters; and the greenish air, carrying the sounds of life and fermenting death, all went into weaving a tale of terror and mystery.
Doing research for my books has always been an enjoyable part of my work. Discovering interesting facts about a place or historic person for instance, pries open the world for me, making it wider and my understanding broader. I’ve found other Authors who detest stopping their writing to do a Google search, but I welcome these diversions as they genuinely give me a sense of comfort in what I put on the page. While a fertile imagination has its place, and speaking from experience here, I believe readers appreciate at least some grounding in reality to make their experience more real for them. When I included the ghost of an historic Civil War General to my tale, I found General Butler to be as controversial in life, as the character I penned in death! He occupied New Orleans as a ‘Blue-Coat” officer with that rank, and loved it so much, he stayed on in the plantation he appropriated, using it for his own enrichment. Such goes the historic tale.
The character of Isabell Butler is a great, great, granddaughter of the infamous General. She has the plantation and the wealth, and a bond of long standing with Maggie and her intended, Collin Fitzhugh. It was important that she inadvertently brings the mysterious Grayson Gerrard into the mix. You can’t just have characters popping up willy-nilly, right? Gerrard is a devilishly handsome (naturally) artist whose found the ultimate patron in the wealthy Isabell. The story can absorb his role and allowed me to delve into his past. It becomes quickly evident; this dark figure has cast his lustful eye on the innocent Maggie. There are no spoiler alerts here, just what you expected. It’s what follows, with the introduction of the Voodoo Priestess, Mari, that adds the energy to the building terror of the characters and hopefully, the reader.
I have written a seven book Urban Fantasy series, called “Witch of Appalachia” and now, two Paranormal Romance Thrillers, Dark Desire and Love’s Prey. This was an easy transition for me as both genres are cut from the same mystical cloth. I am currently writing a Murder Mystery set in the Texas High Plains. Its protagonist is a savvy young Deputy, with her degree in Criminal Justice. I enjoy working with strong female characters, but I feel just as comfortable writing a male character. I attribute that to my close proximity to a male twin during my gestation period, but don’t quote me on that.
It’s been my pleasure sharing this ramble with you. I appreciate the interest shown in my work and thank the editors for Authors’ Lounge for this opportunity. Happy words all!
Francesca Quarto, Author