Faubourgs and the Historical Undead: Annotated Royal Street

Time for another set of annotations and Easter Eggs from Royal Street today! This is a spoiler-free feature, so if you haven’t read the book and think you might one of these days, nothing here will reveal too much.

So, what happens in the Sentinels of New Orleans world when an entity such as a certain member of the Historical Undead get whacked? Well, they go back into the Beyond to regain their strength, at which point they are ready to come back into the modern world when summoned. Only, of course, since Hurricane Katrina tore down the barriers between worlds, no one has to summon them anymore.

When writing Royal Street, I played around with different ways of sending the historical undead  back to the Beyond. I first had them shrink and then disappear in a tiny pop, but it was just so…undignified. Jean Lafitte would have none of that. I tried melting them into ectoplasm but that was kind of gross and DJ didn’t know how to clean it up. So, finally, I settled on having them gradually fade and leave a tiny puddle of ectoplasm.

DJ asks Alex, her new partner, a lot of what seem like really basic questions–like, are werewolves mainstreamed? I didn’t intentionally set out to make her stupid. She’s quite smart, in fact. But she has been sheltered, and her mentor, Gerry, was a strictly need-to-know guy. And he didn’t think she needed to know that much about the shadowy relationship between the modern world and some of the preternaturals, or pretes, that one might expect to live only in the Beyond. Werewolves, for example (although not the rogue wolves known as Loup-Garou, or Rougarou, which in this world are a different species). In River Road, DJ will meet another species of prete that has been mainstreamed in the modern world for quite a while without her knowing it.

In Royal Street, there are several voodoo-related symbols that are found around a series of crime scenes. The most distinctive symbol is painted in blood on a sidewalk or wall, although I won’t say here what it is for spoiler reasons. It looks like this:

In this chapter, Alex asks DJ about an area of town where the latest murder has occurred: Faubourg Marigny. New Orleans, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, is made up of more than 70 distinctive neighborhoods, each with its own personality. “The Marigny” (pronounced MAR-uh-nee) sits adjacent to the lower French Quarter, and is made up of a lot of traditional old shotgun houses and cottages that have been renovated and serve as a mix of residential and business. This is a funky area with lots of artist studios, restaurants, bars, and generally cool people. It was originally a Creole neighborhood. The word Faubourg (FOE-berg) is an old French term for suburb or neighborhood.

In Royal Street, DJ is mainstreamed for human purposes as a risk-management consultant at Tulane University. In most of the early drafts of the book, she owned a small bookshop that was located in the double parlors of her downstairs. I can’t even remember the name I gave the shop, but it specialized in local authors and books about New Orleans. Once I began serious revisions, however, I decided I didn’t want her encumbered with a job where she’d have humans tromping in and out of her house. That would work for Royal Street, when the population of New Orleans was virtually zero, but I knew it would be a problem in later books in the series. So instead, I gave her a “consultant” position in risk-management.  Which leaves her open for all kinds of ridicule from Alex and appealed to my geeky nature.

That’s it for this week! I’ll try to get these up more often…

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

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