Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Literary New Orleans Experience


As many of you know, we went on vacation to New Orleans. It's such a neat town, full of culture and history and good food. It was super hot (I had sweat pouring off me when we visited Lafayette Cemetery No. 1-- like I could feel it running down my sides. Ew.), but we had a great time. 

When we decided a few months ago to visit, I also decided that I needed to write a book set in New Orleans. Otherwise it seemed like such a waste to experience a new setting (to me) and not use it. A bit of brainstorming, and I had my character, Flannery Hale, a carriage driver in the French Quarter.
 
So there I am in NOLA, staying at the Bourbon Orleans hotel, and guess what is exactly across the street from me? A bookstore! All I had to do was walk out the hotel entrance, cross the narrow street while making sure a cab or airport shuttle didn't run me over, and I was in a bookstore. 


It was wall to wall books. You had to creep down the aisles and I'm pretty sure if a stack were to topple, creating a domino effect, everyone in the store would end up crushed to death. 




As soon as you walk in, books about New Orleans were the first thing to greet you. And as I was browsing, I came across Unbroken by Paula Morris. It was the sequel to Ruined, a book set in New Orleans that I owned at home, and was planning to reread since I was writing my own book set in the same city. 

Both books together now...aww.

So I got to talking to the owner of Arcadian Books, Russell Desmond, and he knew the author, as she lived in New Orleans for a time. And he's mentioned in the acknowledgements! How cool is that? (Here's a blog post from Paula, which has a pic of Arcadian Books in it.)


I told him about the story I was working on, and so he wrote down the phone number of a carriage driver for me, in case I wanted to speak to her sometime. He also described her to me, but I was too shy to approach the lined-up drivers on Jackson Square and strike up a conversation-- they looked pretty focused on drumming up business. And I know, I know-- I could have gotten some insider info! (Tho Flannery is only a carriage driver for a short part of the book, before she gets caught up in necromancy things) But I felt silly saying I was writing a book, when I had no previous titles to back me up. Or the name of a publisher to mention. Maybe one day... 

I did want to take a carriage tour, but they were a bit pricey and since we were eating out three meals a day, something had to give. But I did sit in Jackson Square for awhile (in the shade!) and look at the mules and carriages, and see how a typical day would look for Flannery. Also, poor girl: Cafe du Monde (beignets!) is just across the street from where the carriage drivers are stationed. Can you imagine the temptation?

Here are some more pics from my trip, and a few videos as well. Though I'm not sure what the heck's going on with the videos!
  


The first place we ate after arriving. We were both starving after the plane rides. I ordered corn and crawfish chowder and my hubs ordered gumbo...which as soon as I saw it arrive, I knew I'd be trading him. He did not like the gumbo. =)


Our hotel pool.


Ferns and weeds and vines just grow wherever the heck they want down there. I'm guessing something to do with the humid atmosphere?





Ate here one night.




A drainage canal cut in the stones beside St. Louis Cathedral.




















The cutest little shotgun house. 




A bit blurry, but I love these colors together. 







21 comments:

  1. Some great pictures! So much culture in one place.
    You were meant to walk into that bookstore.

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  2. Wow, those pictures really paint a cool setting! And that bookstore looks intense! I wonder how they find anything...

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    1. I know! He's probably got inventory he hasn't seen in years, lol!

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  3. omg that bookstore!! looks like the kind of place you can sit on the floor and read a bunch of books (and some might fall on your head!) love it. Looks like such an awesome trip! :)

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  4. I have always wanted to go to New Orleans. The pictures are cool. And that bookstore is amazing! I would love to go there and browse for hours. How neat that the owner was acknowledged in that book. I'm going to have to look those up because they look really good.

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    1. I've enjoyed them so far. And yes, we always have too, which is why we picked it. It's such a cool city! Just not literally... ;)

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  5. Your pictures are gorgeous! It looks like you had an amazing time, but how could you not in a city with that much history? I'd love to visit New Orleans someday. Where I live now (New Brunswick) has historical connections to Louisiana. This area used to be known as Acadia, where many of the original Cajuns came from. I think it's such a fascinating place to set a book, so it's very cool that you've chosen to write about it. Hope all your trip research pays off with big inspiration for your WIP! :)

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    1. Yes, that blows my mind! Who would think they'd make it all the way down there? History has the neatest twists and turns, you never know what you'll discover.

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  6. Love your pictures. The ironwork is gorgeous and I do love how things just grow in the cracks of the walls. I love bookstores like that :) I hope we'll make a visit to New Orleans some day.

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    1. All the railings and gates are gorgeous down there. Plus, I've always loved balconies.

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  7. I love NoLa! And your pics are great. I'm sooooo loving that bookstore... just... wow. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to read about Flannery. :-)

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    1. Thanks, I hope you get to read about her one day too!

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  8. Your trip looks like it would have been amazing! I've always wanted to visit New Orleans, but I'm not sure when I'll get the chance.

    It also sounds like you'll have a great story on your hands with Flannery. Make sure to keep us updated on how that one develops!

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  9. Wow! That looks like a fantastic trip! Woot woot for the story you're going to write. And those stacked books do look like they're about to topple over.

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  10. I never really had any interest in visiting there, but your pics have me changing my mind. I'd go there for the book store alone! :) Looks like you had a great time!

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  11. Amazing trip and I love the pictures! They made me want to pack my bags and hit the road! Leandra you HAVE to use this as a setting for your next novel! The atmosphere is perfect :).

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  12. The images are fantastic and I'm sure you had a great time there. The bookstore is great.

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  13. I am catching up on my blog reading, Leandra, and was thrilled to read this post. Your photography is amazing, and your w.i.p. sounds great! I love New Orleans--this makes me want to visit again soon!

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  14. Love all the pictures! What a fun, inspirational trip!! So glad you got to go and experience all the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans. :)

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