There are cities that conjure tingles when referenced for their mystique and romance. London, Paris, and New York all bring a smile to the faces of many, but for me, nothing can compare to the sultry breezes and intriguing architecture of New Orleans. Steeped in history, mystery, and a whole lot of sin, it is one of the most original spots on earth. Where old-world blends with modern day, the people, atmosphere, and culture are like no place else. It’s this exotic blend that makes the town such a worthy backdrop for my novel Blackwell. Despite time and the advent of technology, there is a rhythm in New Orleans that seems impervious to change. What was true in the time of Magnus Blackwell is still true today.
However, it’s the darker side of the Big Easy that makes it a pivotal part of Magnus Blackwell’s world. Ghosts, voodoo, and eclectic people have persisted in New Orleans almost as long as the city has been in existence. Murky myths add to its allure and make it a thrilling spot to set any literary adventure.
Famous as the most haunted destination in the United States, residents of New Orleans are as accustomed to ghosts as those in Los Angeles might be to smog, traffic, and noise. The ethereal is woven into the fabric of the dreamy iron balconies and shuttered doorways. Complaints of unintelligible voices, screams, footsteps, and unexplained knocking are as common in early morning banter between neighbors as cordial greetings. When you live in the French Quarter, hearing, “my ghost kept me up all night,” is the norm. Perhaps this is why spectral visitors are just as much a facet of life as red beans and rice on Mondays. And with the rise of haunted tours, ghosts are now big business. Taking what was once an inconvenience and turning it into a cash cow. But ask any of the locals if they would be happier relieved of their supernatural visitors, every single one of them would say no. New Orleans wouldn’t be the same without its ghosts. For those who love the city, it’s reassuring to know you never have to leave it.
Unlike other cities where the topic of voodoo was spoken in hushed whispers, New Orleans readily embraced the religion. The blending of the African and Catholic customs reached its zenith along the Mississippi River. Because of voodoo’s influence in the Crescent City, words such as gris-gris, ju-ju, and voodoo doll were introduced into the American vocabulary. Even famous practitioners of the art became legends. Marie Laveau is still regarded by many as the queen of voodoo. Her annual St. John’s Eve ritual performed on the banks of Bayou St. John continues to this day. And even though her religion has become more commercial that practical, the essence of it adds an air of enchantment to those tightly packed Creole cottages along St. Anne Street. And some insist, on a cold day when the light is right, you can see the regal figure of Ms. Marie strolling along the cracked sidewalks of The Quarter and keeping an eye on her hometown.
Probably the most memorable part of any visit to The Big Easy is the numerous encounters with its Bohemian inhabitants. Their unique character embodies all that is inviting about New Orleans. From quirky traditions to flamboyant celebrations, everything this town encompasses comes alive in its citizens. When life and death are celebrated with the same exuberance, one can’t help but be enchanted. There is something about the people that gets under your skin. A haven for writers, poets, artists, and musicians, the creative pulse resonates through every cobblestone of Jackson Square. Maybe this is why New Orleans has been the setting for so many great stories. Like a heady gumbo, it stirs the soul. Reason enough to make it one of the settings in my book.
There are many delights and a few dangers in New Orleans, but despite everything, it is a place where the impossible can seem probable. I can think of nowhere else to set the dark and sinister tale of Blackwell. It is a bastion where lost souls can find rest, forbidden religions can influence a culture, and people are encouraged to march to a different drum. All that is extraordinary defines this fabulous city, and all who embrace it are touched by magic.
Release Date October 3, 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance/ Supernatural Thriller
Word Count: 108,000
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Over a hundred years after the death of Magnus Blackwell, Altmover Manor sits abandoned.
Lexie Arden and her fiancé, Will Bennet, are determined to rescue the neglected Mount Desert Island landmark. They want to make Altmover Manor their home. But Magnus has other plans.
A spirit bound to his former residence, Magnus finds himself inexplicably drawn to the young woman. She has a supernatural gift; a gift Magnus wants to exploit.
As Lexie and Will settle in, secrets from Magnus’s past begin to surface.
Compelled to learn all she can about the former owner, Lexie becomes immersed in a world of voodoo, curses, and the whereabouts of a mysterious dragon cane.
Magnus’s crimes won’t be so easily forgotten, and what Lexie unearths is going to change the future … for everyone.
Bound to a spirit with a sinister history, a woman with a dark power will battle to rule the realm of the dead…
Lexie awoke with a start from a sound sleep. Gaping into the blackness of the strange bedroom, she discovered the storm had abated and she detected the creaks and groans of the old house. Then a crack from the floorboards made her flinch.
It came from Will’s side of the bed. She reached out to shake him, but he didn’t move.
She received a muffled grunt.
Another crack in the floor, but this time it happened right next to her side of the bed. An odor lingered in the air.
Is that coffee?
A column of light glittering to her left made Lexie’s mouth go dry. The oddity soon took on the shape of a man.
His strong frame, long arms, and tapered hands came into view. Good-looking, despite the cruel curl of his lips, his chiseled features, and engaging eyes, made her insides tingle. But when the cut of his old-fashioned red vest, long black coat, and white ascot tie took shape, Lexie understood this wasn’t some hazy fantasy. She didn’t fantasize about men from another century.
Lexie clutched her bedsheet as a fearful scream rose in her throat.
“Please, my dear, don’t bore me with your petty shrieks,” the figure said, his tone condescending.
Like a lightbulb getting enough electricity to reach its wattage, his image brightened, bringing out his details. Lexie scrutinized the buttons on his coat, the fine craftsmanship of his high black boots, and grasped the identity of her visitor.
Then a loud pop rang out, and he was gone. It happened so fast, Lexie questioned if it had happened at all.
“Welcome to Altmover Manor, Ms. Arden.” She recognized the voice of the apparition. “I hope you enjoy your stay.”
This time, Lexie did not hold back her scream, and as she opened her mouth …
About the Author:
From New Orleans, Alexandrea Weis was raised in the motion picture industry and began writing stories at the age of eight. In college, she studied nursing. After finishing her PhD, she decided to pick up the pen once again and begin her first novel. Since that time, she has published many novels and won several national writing awards for fiction. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her bestselling books, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable.
Alexandrea Weis is also a certified/permitted wildlife rehabber with the La. Wildlife and Fisheries. When she is not writing, she rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She is married; they live in New Orleans.
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