Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lafayette Cemetery No.1—Not as Creepy as I Anticipated

Actually, it wasn’t creepy at all. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had opportunity to visit New Orleans over the winter, and one of the places of interest was the Lafayette Cemetery No.1, the oldest of the seven municipal, city-operated cemeteries in New Orleans.

Normally, when visiting a destination, Todd and I don’t do tours. We like to wing it on our own. But this time, I wanted an inside scoop and very specific information, so I arranged for a tour through Save OurCemeteries.

What I did not realize is that generations of families are entombed in many of the crypts. During summer, the insides of the tombs get exceedingly hot—our tour guide told us just how many degrees, but like most numbers, it went in, terrorized my brain, and fled. Suffice it to say, it’s hot enough to essentially cremate a body within a few years, making way for the next deceased.

The best thing about the New Orleans’ cemeteries is that they’re above ground. One of the brochures says, “It is only a myth that above-ground tombs were required because of the high water table in the city. Instead, early New Orleanians chose to bury above ground in response to their French and Spanish cultural history. Above-ground tombs just happen to be the intelligent response to the geographical realities of living in a swamp.”

One of the oddest sites was The Society for the Relief of Destitute Boys. It was decorated with all sorts of trinkets—actually, that was a little creepy, the photo bomber notwithstanding.

It’s kind of sad that so many of the tombs are deteriorating despite efforts to restore and maintain the cemetery. Just the same, the relative state of disrepair makes for good story detail, and interesting pictures. I found quite a few tombs that would be perfect for the story.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Portrait of a Girl Adrift — Waylaid by Research

I’m happy to say that I am nearly done with the first draft of Portrait of a Girl Adrift, the continuing saga of Leila at large, aka the Portraits series. In this novel, she’s on a quest to find out about her deceased mother who abandoned her when Leila was three years old. Lots of psychological stuff as usual—fun to research. Those parts of the story write up fairly quickly. And then there’s the settings…

Generally, I write about places where I’ve spent considerable time, places like New Hampshire, Maine and Long Island, so it’s all second nature. But the settings in Portrait of a Girl Adrift are a bit beyond my proverbial backyard. Places like New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico via a 47’ sailboat, Cuba, and Grand Cayman Island. So, the writing has been slow. And just because I’m about 10% away from finishing the first draft—I should say very rough first draft—does not mean I’m anywhere near done. I won’t even try to project when it might be ready for publication.

Speaking of settings, New Orleans being one of them, I did have an opportunity to do some firsthand research over the winter. A couple of scenes take place at the Lafayette Cemetery No.1. Fortunately, not much has changed at the cemetery since the mid 1980s, unlike the rest of the city since Katrina in 2005. More on that later...

Writing about sailing across the Gulf of Mexico in a 47' sailboat has probably taken the most time, and that part of the research is still not complete. And then there's Grand Cayman Island...

The trick is finding information—aside from offshore banking articles—about Grand Cayman in 1984. I also visited Grand Cayman very briefly in January, but the island now is much different than it was thirty years ago. So, the research is taking a little longer than I expected. Nevertheless, I think it would be fun to blog about some of the information I’ve come across over the course of writing Adrift. At any rate, it will help me to blog a little more regularly than twice annually!

Meanwhile, here’s a pretty picture of 7-Mile Beach on Grand Cayman Island

Stay tuned…