To-Be-Filed Thursday–Gerry’s House from Sentinels of New Orleans

One of my big online projects these days is culling down my Dropbox account, particularly two huge files called “To Be Sorted1” and “To Be Sorted2.” In other words, they’re my online junk drawers.

But however much I love Dropbox, and I do, once I am gainfully unemployed about 30 days from now (yikes!), I no longer want to pay $75 a month for a business account and unlimited storage. So I’ve been going through my virtual junk drawers. I’ll share a few things with you as I find them.

Like this double in New Orleans’ Lakeview community, which is a place I rented when I first moved to NOLA, before we bought our house uptown. I was moving there from San Diego and rented it sight-unseen; it turned out to be a great half-double. This serves as the model for Gerry St. Simon’s house in the Sentinels series.

So, what’s a double and a half-double? It’s New Orleans-ese for a duplex, and one side of a duplex. My roommate and I lived in the larger unit on the left as you face the house. At the time I lived there, it was painted a darker brown color rather than taupe, and I don’t think the doors were black. I wish I had another photo of it. Oh, wait. This:


So, yeah, my half-double on Bellaire Drive in Lakeview just happened to be two blocks from the main levee breach that flooded NOLA after Hurricane Katrina. This was taken about a month after the storm. Some interesting observations. When I lived there, there were one-story houses on each side. Both were completely underwater and later torn down. There’s such a thick layer of sand and mud left in front that you can’t even see the driveways in the bottom photo. I can’t really tell the door color in the bottom photo because the doors were washed away in the flood, but since the balcony windows were white, the doors might have been white also. In the top photo, you can see that the huge oak trees around and behind the house are no longer there (sitting in saltwater for a month doesn’t agree with most trees), and the backyard (which you can’t see in the bottom photo but is clear in the top) leads up to the rebuilt 17th Street Canal Levee wall. The one that failed.

So when I was writing ROYAL STREET and wanted a Katrina-flooded house for Gerry, this was the natural place for me to go because I knew the neighborhood, knew the layout of the house, and figured that since the house survived, the upper floor wasn’t flooded so Gerry could have survived up there. The waterline would have been about to the midpoint of the balconies on “my” side of the house.

So that’s my “discovery” in my “To Be Filed” folder this week! I’m glad the house survived. All hail to 6660 Bellaire Drive! (Maybe that ‘666’ should have been a warning!)


Heroes, Heroines, and Valentine’s Day….Not


Are you doing anything special for the big day? I certainly am. I’ll be sending my last magazine on the day job to the printer, which means a long, hectic workday filled with semi-hysterical alumni (well, okay, that started late yesterday), needless interruptions, and the utter satisfaction of gettin’ that baby outta here.

I might have six weeks left on the day job, but after today, I’ll mentally begin the transition to full-time author. Well, except for that week I plan to do nothing but sleep.

I was trying to think about my various heroes and heroines, and how they had spent Valentine’s Day in my books and, well, they haven’t. It’s probably just as well. Alex would buy DJ a gun, DJ would get him a bacon-fryer, Rand would do something inappropriate, and, well, let’s not even talk about Rene or Jean Lafitte.

Glory would eat something full of bourbon and sugar and then Mirren would have a fine feast. She’d enjoy it too.

Will and Randa would argue over who got whose gift first.

Robin would pick a fight with Cage and they’d end up having hot monkey sex.

Cole and Cele would probably go out for a beer because Gentry and Jena would be staking out poachers or something.

Poor Aidan and Krys. I can’t even talk about them.

I don’t think I’ve even READ a Valentine’s Day book. Have you? And what do you have planned for your big smoochy day?