Location is an extremely important part of writing a successful story. For me, if a book takes place in a state, city, or part of the world I’m interested in, I’m more likely to buy the book.
New Orleans happens to be one of those cities I not only love to visit—I love to write about it, as well. It’s also one of those cities that, if you do decide to use it as the backdrop for your story, you’d better do your research and get it right. If you make a mistake and put a famous hotel or restaurant on the wrong street or a musician’s name wrong, or a historical event or figure in the wrong time, your readers will let you know about it.
In RUE TOULOUSE, I placed Ma Cherie on Royal because there are other similar establishments located on that street.
Remi and Caterine eat at The Chartres House, which is a favorite of my husband and me. In fact, I had my characters order what David and I usually have ourselves. I knew they’d like it!
Caterine meets her grandmother at Brennan’s for brunch. Again, this is one of our favorite places to eat. Because, while I was writing the book, Brennan’s closed for a time, I thought about using a different restaurant, but it’s such a part of New Orleans, and it was expected to reopen, I took literary license and used it as it was.
Caterine and Elaine talk about getting pizza at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. The pizza is wonderful, and there have been many times I wish they could deliver to me here at home – in South Carolina. Considering that’s about eight hundred miles away, I don’t think that will happen.
Remi, Caterine, Elaine, and Paul go to The Gumbo Shop for dinner, another New Orleans must, but I have to admit I had to maneuver things around a bit in order for the scene to play out the way I wanted.
Remi and Caterine have café au lait and beignets at The Café Du Monde. These puffy, sugary donuts are incredible, but extremely messy. Don’t wear dark clothes when you go like I did the first time. No matter how careful you are, the sugar sifts down onto your lap. Afterward, everyone knows where you’ve eaten.
To write about the actions in the story, it helps to know where the characters live. Remi’s apartment is on Rue Toulouse. David and I were staying at a hotel on Toulouse when I came up with the idea for the story. In fact, there’s a great house on Toulouse between Dauphine and Burgundy which I use as Remi’s digs.
Caterine lives in Audubon Place. This is an exclusive gated area adjacent to Audubon Park and near the colleges of Tulane and Loyola. I needed to have a few questions answered about living in Audubon Place, so we drove up to the gate and a very nice guard was very patient and helpful with me, but we couldn’t drive in and look around so most of Caterine’s house is totally my imagination. Google Earth is a big help with it’s aeraial and street views.
The picnic that takes place at Remi’s family home is totally made up, but Houma is a real place and we drove out along the bayou south of Houma. The store where they stop for beer and wine does exist.
Some of the secondary characters mentioned are real people. There are men who paint themselves silver and copper that do different poses. And a man who dresses like Uncle Sam walks the streets with his little dog. There are street musicians everywhere and carriage rides for the tourists. There are second line impromptu parades and beads, beads and more beads thrown from balconies and floats during carnival.
In RUE TOULOUSE, I tried to bring the sights, sounds and tastes of New Orleans to life. I hope I did, and I hope you get a chance to visit this incredible city.
About RUE TOULOUSE
It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Attending a masquerade ball, wealthy fashion designer Caterine Doucette, dressed as a shimmering ice princess, has her cool façade shattered when she encounters Bayou-born ex-cop Remi Michaud, disguised as the darkly handsome pirate Jean Lafitte. Their true identities hidden, the princess and the pirate come together in an explosion of passion and desire. But when fantasy turns to cold reality, Caterine panics and disappears into the night, unaware this man will soon be sent to rescue her from a killer and will capture her heart.
About Debby Grahl
Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David, and their cat, Tigger. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, Boston, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired from childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. Debby belongs to RWA, Florida Romance Writers, Hearts Across History and Lowcountry Romance Writers.