Next on the Marketing Muses’ list of suggested posts: paranormal New Orleans. I’m not going to lie; the prospect of writing this one scared me the most. But it’s not from a fear of paranormal things that go bump in the night. It’s a fear of writing the wrong thing. Because in this city with such a rich history full of ghosts, vampires, loup-garous, zombies—both fictional and non-fictional—there are a lot of paranormal experts around.
I’m not one of them.
And I’m not trying to be one, either. There are tour guides in the French Quarter who can introduce the curious to some of the ghosts haunting the place. There are several well-known vampire stories that offer a glimpse into an undead version of New Orleans and Louisiana. I can claim a slightly stronger knowledge of alien abductions. The purported extraterrestrials who created some havoc in Snowflake, Arizona and much closer to home in Pascagoula, Mississippi, fascinated me when I was a kid.
But The Incident Under the Overpass isn’t set in Snowflake or Pascagoula, and there’s not an extraterrestrial anywhere in the story.
Yet there were plenty of things that fascinated me, back in my early childhood in the 1970s. There was a movie that served as my introduction (of sorts) to the world of the paranormal in New Orleans. Magical things ingrained into the fabric of this city, which I was not yet aware of.
That movie was Live and Let Die.
Yes, the 1973 James Bond movie. I watch it today, and recognize certain racist and sexist underpinnings. And cringe, at that, and the depiction of bumbling Southerners—the only competent ones are the villains. (Does the brilliant Yaphet Kotto’s portrayal of a Bond supervillain counteract any of the racist undertones?)
While I’m sure there’s much to malign, there are still certain things in Live and Let Die that are as wondrous to me now as they were forty years ago. The luminous beauty of a twenty-year-old Jane Seymour as the psychic Solitaire. And Geoffrey Holder (God rest his soul) as Baron Samedi. I can’t understate the impact Geoffrey Holder’s voice—and that laugh! —have had on me and my imagination.
Those two actors introduced me to divination by Tarot deck, and the practice of voodoo (or Vodou as it is known in Haiti). I can’t claim expertise in either practice, but one of my best friends can. She is a gifted Tarot reader, who also happened to do her dissertation on Brazilian Candomblé, which shares some essential elements with Vodou. I like to think I’ve picked up a few things from her by osmosis.
So, do any of these things come up in The Incident Under the Overpass? Yes and no. There’s a touch of divination, just not by Tarot. There’s a big healing element in the practice of Vodou that, unfortunately, does not seem to get as much attention as the more negative depictions. While Vodou is never mentioned outright, that healing tradition kinda informs the premise of the story.
Oh, and there’s a character that has Geoffrey Holder’s voice. 100 percent.
And I can’t conclude without mentioning the song. While Live and Let Die may not be the pinnacle of Bond themes, it’s an awesome rock song. Something Guns ‘N Roses proved when their version bested the Paul McCartney and Wings original.
So there you go. I hope I didn’t spark the ire of any experts. There’s a reason I chose fiction, and not fact, as my creative milieu.