New Orleans – The Beyond Series Supernatural Writing Inspiration
I am writing two parts to New Orleans because I loved it so much I went two years on the run. So the first trip was with my best friend and we stayed at The Sheraton hotel, which was very salubrious, posh and only a short walk away from the French Quarter. There was a gym and hotel pool on the roof and we spent a couple days there just chilling and sunbathing, which was gorgeous.
We had been given a room on the 45th floor or something ridiculously high like that and I couldn’t look out of the window without suffering vertigo or panicking about low flying aeroplanes! But the rooms were just amazing and sumptuous. Sinking into the huge double beds (we had one each), with more pillows than any sane person required, soft white cotton sheets in billowing fluffy duvets and a fluffy fleece throw to boot. Ah, it was sheer luxury.
We were given a key to the VIP lounge and we sipped champagne and ate little hors d’oeuvres, looking out over an amazing city and the Mississippi, before heading out into the French Quarter in the evenings. And this is what I had come for… to experience the French Quarter in all it’s glory that I had read so much about in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.
As we went to explore the French Quarter for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the humidity and we had to stop at a coffee shop on Decataur. This was before we found the Café du Monde, which I wrote about in my fourth book of Beyond Series of Books – Lycan Lamia because I loved it so much. We would sit outside the busy cafe and eat beignet (square donuts dipped in icing sugar) and freshly squeezed orange juice for bunch, while buskers would serenade the customers eating outside by the river.
We took a tour around the French Quarter on a horse and carriage and stopped off at the oldest tavern in the US to drink the famous Tornado Volcano cocktail, we continued the tour through Jackson Square (above), which was stunningly beautiful then took a Ghost and Voodoo Tour around the Quarter at night, which created a spooky yet exciting atmosphere and I can see why so many writers are inspired to write about the supernatural here, as am I.
Some of the stories I remember were quite gruesome, men believing in voodoo to the point where they died of unknown illnesses, a rich merchants wife who used her slaves to torture and then drank their blood… (Nicholas Cage apparently now owns the building) and murderous intent at a tavern, but the victim was saved by a ghostly spirit.
The best ghost story was so intriguing we actually booked to eat at the restaurant, just to see the haunted table at the famous Muriels restaurant, at the back was a ghost table laid out for two poltergeists. They believed that by laying food, wine and a candle at the table every night they prevented paranormal activity in the restaurant. The table was very creepy and there was a heavy feeling of foreboding, like I was being watched by some malevolent spirit. I was compelled to write a short story about my experience and Dimensions – A Short Story was born.
I loved it so much we went for a meal there one night to get a closer look at the table and see if could see any ghosts and was so inspired, I also wrote several chapters in my The Beyond Series of books to the Daryavaush Paranormal Investigation team meeting there and performing a voodoo ritual within another landmark building of the French Quarter, St Andrews Hotel, which is known as the most haunted hotel in Louisiana. I never stayed there, but I would like to if I ever return.
We toured the beautiful Garden District, which we travelled to on a traditional American tram car or trolley bus. It was so lovely to finally see all the major landmarks in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches trilogy. We saw Lafayette cemetery, Anne Rice’s actual home, her second home she used just to house her doll collection and which is now Nicholas Cage’s other New Orleans home and the house used to film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The homes were huge and elegant. I loved it here and decided if I ever became very rich I would buy a place in the Garden District, haha! We also found the most incredible cheese cake shop and café. The portions were so huge we didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day!
We also went for a cruise on a traditional Mississippi steam boat, The Natchez., where we had a traditional Cajun meal and drank bourbon then danced to a live band for a very traditional New Orleans evening and a trip to New Orleans cannot be complete without visiting some Plantation Houses.
This was where the very rich lived back in the sugar and cotton plantation heyday. Once there were roads of huge, sprawling mansions with the plantations at the back of the house, the land leading all the way down to the river. Every house had its own slaves, housed in slavery huts out the back yard. We visited the Oak plantation which was used in Gone with the Wind and Interview with a Vampire films, which is how I always imagine plantation houses to look, all white washed panelling, tall pillars and Grecian style porches.
But we also saw on the tour the Laura Plantation, which was a large wooden bungalow on stilts to protect the building from the Mississippi flooding. There were two staircases, one for men and the other for women, because their dresses were so wide, it prevented men seeing the women’s ankles when they walked up the staircase and therefore keeping their decency and reputation intact. Oddly, it was the women who owned the plantations and the Laura was passed down to the eldest daughter. The bedroom was the office and all meetings of business were held in an opulent bedroom with the female head of the household.
Very different and unusual looking house compared to the Oak Alley, but very interesting to learn what a real plantation house was like to live in before the civil war.
We went on Ghost, Vampire and Voodoo walking tours around the French Quarter at night which was very atmospheric and inspirational – this is Pirate Alley (below) and I think you’ll agree looks quite spooky and I think was used as a scene in Interview With A Vampire, but more about that in my next New Orleans Blog about what we got up the second time we went.