Book Talk ~ Why Some Interesting Things Never Get in a Book

Written By: Jackie Weger - Apr• 19•19

Why is it That an Author May Know a Dozen Interesting Facts He or She Does Not Put in a Novel?

The short answer is: Those facts may not move the story along.

French Market. Early 1800’s New Orleans. Also known as the Spice Market. The view shown here faces the Mississippi River.

More over, the book may end up being a travelogue. A for instance: In Count the Roses a main part of the story took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. I love New Orleans.  I found  a way  to mention the Old Spice Market, the Cafe De Monde, the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France situated across from Jackson Square and a few other sites; a favorite book store and the St. Charles Street Car.  Also, Peter O’Neil’s Gallery on Royal Street. Peter was the artist who I fictionalized as painting the picture of the hero’s first wife. Got that in the story because I’ve known Pete since he was a street artist, long before he became famous. He creates the most fabulous Giclee editions of his works.  Buy them online.

But I could not find a way to mention the filles a la Cassette or ‘Casket Girls’ that the King of France sent to the French Territories of Mobile, Alabama, Biloxi, Misissippi and New Orleans, to become the wives of French soldiers on deployment in France’s territory. The early young girls sent had to be virgins of very good families and some were orphans.  Each were given a small wooden or leather box called a cassette to store their few belongings, later translated to ‘casket.’

The Casket Girls were housed in the Ursuline Convent on Chartres Street next to the Cathedral where they were educated by the nuns until old enough to marry, if they could find a suitor. Many did not. Upon debarking the ships, the Frenchmen did not like their pale looks. Thus, soon there was rumor that these girls became the first Vampires to populate New Orleans.  Some did become coveted  prostitutes when marriages failed or no suitable husbands could be found and they were turned out or left the convent. What a fascinating bit of  true history with a stunning rumor. I just could not find a way to make it work in Count The Roses, a romance.  But if I ever should turn my pen to a vampire tale, those Casket Girls girls are  IN.

This is the City Guide written by writers during the WPA. Find all you need about local New Orleans at Librairie Book Shop 823 Chartres St. (504) 525-4837.

The story I wrote moved from New Orleans to Bayou and Cajun Country. I wanted to mention the Atchafalaya River Basin. If you’ve driven across that River Basin Bridge on Interstate 10, you know it.  3rd longest bridge in the USA. I was on  an excursion with an editor from way up North  as we drove across the bridge heading for Old Hwy 90 down to 87 to drive levees,  find some great Zydyco music, a cantina or two and go on a swamp tour. She asked me how to pronounce Atchafalaya. I told her but she couldn’t get her tongue around it.  I thought, “uh, oh, it’s gonna stump my readers.” So I  didn’t use it or Houma, where I met up with trappers and lived with them for part of a winter. Didn’t use any swamp above or below the bridge.

I had earlier written a book about swamp trappers, but we got so many letters that ‘real’ people didn’t do that in America any more.  Broke my heart.  Now we have a popular Reality shows about Swamp trappers and loggers. My book was before its time. Do this: Google the The Fish and Game department in your state. Go to “trapping licences.” Follow every link and you will soon come to where the fur buyers will be every season in today’s USA. It’s an ongoing and long established industry.  I was once in Dahlonega, Georgia, gold panning and there was a notice in the gold buyer’s window the dates the fur buyer would be in town.

Say it: Ahh-cha-faa-lie-yuh. That’s Southern pronunciation. Get off I-10 on any exit South and go visit. Get a taste of Gumbo and a crawfish boil, a Cajun Mardi Gras and you’ll never want to leave. I always start my trek to the swamp in Henderson. You’ll see the exit on both sides of I-10.

Now, there’s far more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street, though I love to stroll it.  Nor did I mention the Casinos and gambling in my book. Get this: New Orleans has  right at 130 Festivals every year. The juggernaut  is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Once was enough for me. Music was great, food supercilious, but I couldn’t get to every concert I wanted. Do this:  Click on  New Orleans Festivals 2019 and find one that suits you and your budget. For Cheap housing don’t over look YMCA Hostels in N. O.

Now, to wrap this up. I just want to say, I still wrote a decent book with the zen flavor of New Orleans and  Cajun country. It is what it started out to be, a Sweet romance with a delicious hero, a strong, witty heroine and enough side characters to give the book a little oomph.  Well, I’ve sold you New Orleans now I have to sell my book. If you’ve just got have it right this minute, it’s free on all sales venues. Amazon. Nook. Google Play. Kobo. Apple iBooks.  One last thing: Louisiana Cajun Country is known for Lagniappe ~a little something extra. So, click on the cute alligator and snag your little something extra. It’s a code for a gift book from me to you on Amazon.  First come, first get it. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep. Would love for you to follow me on Twitter. It’s not painful and my Twitter stream is always filled with fine books.

@2019. I’m Jackie Weger. Thanks for visiting. Comments Welcome. As a reader or a writer  have you read books that you wished more or less was written about a location? Have you ever read a book that had you thinking: “Gosh, I want to go there.”

 

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8 Comments

  1. Robyn M Ryan says:

    Wonderful column, Jackie! I absolutely never discovered the true New Orleans. So much more than I thought. Your own adventures would make a must-read bestseller!

    Ever since I read Tales of the South Pacific, I’ve dreamt of finding Bali Hai. 🙂 And just the mere mention of Paris in a story has me checking our skymiles account. Happy Easter!

    Robyn

  2. Fascinating – thanks for the insights.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Jackie. New Orleans is one of my dream destinations, so I found this write up fascinating! Pleased to share about your excellent novel too 🙂

  4. Jackie – you should write a non-fiction book about your travels, I just KNOW it would be fascinating! x

  5. As a lifelong resident of New Orleans, I loved this, Jackie! I’m actually like ten miles west, but I’m in the city every day for work, and I sometimes find myself there on weekends or holidays because there’s so much fun and beauty in the city. Ohhh, the Atchafalya Basin. I crossed over that late last month–had to travel to Lake Charles, LA, for a work conference. It never ends, does it? You just taught me that it’s the third longest bridge in the U.S., but I can’t say I’m surprised. I hope you found places to eat beyond the well-known, tourist type restaurants, many of which are excellent, but there are so many gems that are just a little order at the counter type establishment in a strip mall.

  6. Your Casket girls in New Orleans were called les filles du roi in New France. Like your girls, they were given a dowry by the king and sent to be wives of the soldiers turned colonists and were also housed by the Ursuline nuns until their marriage, but there the story changes. Les filles du roi were orphans,widows, and the daughters of French farmers deemed best suited to help grow the colony. One of my ancestors came to New France to fight in the Mohawk uprising. When the war ended and the regiment was disbanded, he opted to stay in the colony and was granted land, the only requirement was that he marry within the year. Very few filles du roi went unclaimed. He married one. Another one of my relatives opted to stay in the area known as Acadian and his descendants were deported to Louisiana in the mid-eighteenth century. Small world.

  7. Jackie, it would be impossible for you to write a book long enough to include all you know, have seen and done. I was right there with you in NO. I grew up with trappers who still trap. I laughed out loud at lagnaippe–a word I first encountered in a Readers’ Digest Building Vocabulary column.

  8. A book is a great to tell a story–and only that. Anything else, why, that’s what blogs are for 🙂

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