Saturday, December 09, 2006

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the blog

I swear I was going to be posting sooner than this. But you see, an ice storm hit last week, and I was without power or access to my internet for five days. FIVE DAYS. Did I tell you I'm a lousy refugee? I spent all that time rotating through siblings and trying to keep my house warm(temps dropped near zero each night) with a barbecue grill(I told my husband I was NOT going to tell my firefighter friends that I burned down my house with a barbecue grill in the living room)(then, of course, he decamped to Chile, the rat bastard--on business. Uh huh). And, of course, right in the middle of all that, SINNERS AND SAINTS hit the bookshelves. I'm just getting around the St. Louis area to do drive-by signings (that's when you stop in the store, sign stock, gab with the booksellers and then run on to the next place). And here I'd promised to tell you a bit more about SINNERS. Well, and so I will.

Here's the thing. I've been fascinated by New Orleans my whole life. When I finally got to go, I fell madly in love with the city. There's just something there that makes me feel at home; an energy, a unique spell the city casts over you. I love the color, the characters, the lazy, kind pace of the place. Yeah, okay, and the food and music and architecture get it. Well, finally I had the chance to set a book there. That was about three years ago, when I first started collecting research information. Now, I'm a rabid researcher. I don't want any of those emails that say, "You're such an idiot. Don't you know that it's the MIssissippi that runs through New Orleans, not the Missouri?" (not that I'd ever say that). And, of course, it gave me an added excuse to spend time in New Orleans. Which was just fine. Can you think of a better way to research a book then singing in the back room of Jean LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop at two in the morning? Or driving to every cemetery in the city limits? Or driving through the good and bad streets with one of New Orleans finest(all cops tell great stories. New Orleans cops are in a universe of their own. You can read one of the best stories in my OUTTAKE section of my website). I almost didn't stop researching at all. In fact, I ended up taking out over a hundred pages of the finished manuscript."Eileen," my editor said with great patience. "This is a suspense novel. Not Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." Fine. Just fine. I cut some of the stories.My cop friends and nurse friends and CSI friends have told me I got it right anyway, which makes me very, very pleased.

Fast forward to last summer. The book comes out--five days before Katrina hits. Yeah. I have great timing.It absolutely killed me. Not just because I'd just written a love poem to a city that had just been destroyed. But because I felt that destruction like the grave injury of a loved one. The good news is that all my friends are now back home and working. The bad news is that the city still struggles. But I do believe in her. I believe in her people, who are the greatest survivors I've ever met.

But now, the paperback is out, and I hope you'd enjoy visiting with me in the New Orleans of my heart--okay, even though there are some grisly murders happening, a heroine who is in terrible peril, and--did I mention this?--a level 5 hurricane bearing down on the city. (considering when the book first came out, I've decided to take contributions to NOT write about earthquakes in California). Next blog, I'll introduce you to the inspirations behind one of my very favorite heroes, James Guidry, and the unique, the wonderful, the lovely, Kareena Boudreax. Til then, stay warm. I'll try and do the same.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

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