Monday, June 9, 2008

A Day of One's Own - Sorta

Hey y'all
Apologies for another gigantic posting - it's been hard having time to get on here with tour stuff and spending time with my sons, but I am in Monroe, La for the day having a day of one's own, to paraphrase dear Eudora which is apropos since I drove here from Jackson, Miss for an 8 am live radio interview with Sunny Meriweather - how much do we love her name? and she totally lives up to it in the best possible way, this woman is pure light - for her show, Lagniappe, on KEDM. For y'all non-Louisianians, lagniappe means something extra. Sorta like a baker's dozen, but with extra hospitality thrown in. At 5, I'll have diner with a new friend, the force of nature Mary Brinson who made this day the wonderful thing that it is, and then a reading at Windows at 7, then back to Welty country.
But to pick up where I left off on my last posting:
This past Monday, I went to Lake Charles, where Fiona and Patricia - the main characters of my new novel - are from. I spent summers there as a girl visiting my grandmother, and I specifically set the novel there so I could go back and visit. It was heaven. Right when I got there, I drove straight to my grandmother's old house- she has been deceased since the '80's. I saw a woman watering the grass next door and introduced myself and she told me that the house is going to be torn down because of the damage it sustained in Hurricane Rita. I am beyond heartbroken, but so relieved that I was able to get there and see it one last time. isn't it wonderful? There is an amazing attic up there that was made into a playroom that was wallpapered with New Yorker covers from the 1920's up to the '50's. I put that room in my first novel. and I made this Fiona's house in my new novel. I so loved it.
And this is the pavilion that Fiona and Patricia play in as children in the novel, and where my sisters and cousins and I all played as kids, acting out all sorts of dramas and romances.
The house behind it is antebellum.
We never saw anyone in it, but
always imagined it was a very
benevolent elderly woman who
didn't mind us trampling her yard and jumping around her statue. And this is Lake Charles, as seen from my grandmother (and Fiona's virtual!) house. That's a beautiful bridge all the way across. It was a beautiful white-gold low rainbow at night.
And this is the entrance to Drew Park - another locale in the novel. The wrought iron arch above the pillars says Drew Park. My husband or four year old would have been able to make that visible, but I was lucky to get the framing straight - kinda. But that led to the bike path we took there to play on the jungle gym and clubhouse for ping pong games - both make appearances in the book. I could feel the shorts high on my legs, and imagine the restful, cold quiet of my grandmother's home when we'd come in after playing. She always had an old fashion at 5, and we'd have shirley temples and peanut butter on saltine crackers before a cold supper at 6. Dinner was at noon. This was the South! I would always make her drinks because I put in 2 jiggers of bourbon instead of one, and she'd always say, "DeLauné, you make the best old fashions." As if she had no idea that they were stronger than hers, though maybe she didn't. This was when I was 8 or so. She was a grand woman. Very elegant, but with a great sense of humor. She is much missed.
Then I went to Books-a-Million for a signing, where I felt like I was returning to the hometown of my dreams. We sold out of books after an hour and a half, and I met such wonderful women. Everyone was so happy to connect, an amazing bookclub came, The Pulpwood Queens. I love these women. They have pink t-shirts and tiaras, and so get the lifelong sister/friend female thing. I met a cousin, Traci Dubus, and her darling daughter Molli. Traci had grown up hearing about our ancestor in Marie Antionette's court, but didn't know the full story, so I filled her in.(the woman I was named for Helene Delaune was going to go to guillotine, but Marie Antionette gave her jewels for her and her husband to escape. I think that is a future book.) Then I did an event at the central library, and they had someone from the Junior League make appetizers and they gave me the Junior League cookbook - my husband is thrilled!! We can just close our eyes, open to a page, and find a great new dish for dinner. And, it's food from home! They both want me to come back in the fall, which I will in a heartbeat. They were so wonderful and welcoming.
Tuesday was New Orleans. It started with an interview with Susan Larson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune at CC's, Community Coffee's local cafe. If you think you are happy with Starbucks, order Community Coffee and find nirvana. And it's from New Orleans! She was so fun to visit with. She knows my whole family and had great stories to tell me about them, I mostly wanted her to talk more than me. Then I did a half hour taped radio interview for WRBH with Deb McDonald - she was great fun. Then I went to my dear dear friend, Sid Montz' stunningly gorgeously restored 1880's home off of Prytania street,and called in to do a taped radio interview for the Book Report - here's the MP3. I love Elisabeth and Pat -their voices combined are like a great old fashion (there's that drink again, I really am home!) - one's bourbon and the other is sugar.
After that, Sid and I went by Octavia Books (pic on left)to sign stock and see Tom and Judith and their darling puppy - my youngest son would have loved him!
Then I went to Garden District Book Store
for a reading and signing - that's me with my cousin René Thionville, and you can tell his accent by his name. I could listen to him all day. The voices down here are just heaven. My husband keeps telling me that every time we talk, mine is thicker and thicker - thank God!! After that, Sid and I had dinner at a great Uptown restaurant, then I drove back to big BR (Baton Rouge, or le rouge, as a friend used to call it.)
Wednesday in BR started with a live radio interview on the Jim Engster show, then I picked up my sons, and we went to see the school I went to, St Joseph's Academy, where the kind and delightful and regal Sr. Joan took us around for a tour and let my older son pick out two old school desks for us to get up to NY somehow for him and his brother to use - wasn't that lovely of her? They were throwing them out, but they are in gorgeous condition, the oak wood perfect, so the timing was great. Then lunch with my Aunt Kathryn and cousin Cathy, then off to see the most important resident in Baton Rouge (in many people's opinion) the one, the only Mike the Tiger.
Yes, he has his own website). After LSU won the championships, Mike got these new digs - and no, my pic does not do it justice. When I was little, he had a humble home, but he has stayed the same at heart (even though he is a different tiger!), when we got there, he was napping in the shade mostly out of view just like he always was when Momma would take me to see him. But that's the Mike the tiger experience. Kind of the reverse of an LSU game. There is nothing sleepy about that experience. My older son wished Mike were a camel. I won't tell the rabid LSU fans that!!
Then I had a reading/signing at Barnes and Noble that night - I promise I'm wearing a different skirt and top than the other pics, it's just hard to tell!! - and that was wonderful fun to see old friends and meet new people.
Then on Thursday, yesterday, we drove to Jackson, Miss, and I got
the boys settled with Julia (who has been a godsend on this trip) at my cousin Henry's house, and Henry and I went to Lemuria, a book store I love. That's us with his friend Karla - she's a hoot, as any good Jackson girl is. One of the wonderful people at the store, Joe, has been to parties at the house my father grew up in when he was a boy in Jackson - too small a world. We traded baby pictures. I was pregnant with my second when I was there two years ago with my first novel, and he and his wife were about the have their first child, and since have had a second. so that was dear to see those pictures.
Then off to Piccadilly - a restaurant I put in The Safety of Secrets - they are all over the South - don't miss them if you get down here - yum!!
And now we are caught up with me in Monroe. Tonight is a reading/signing at Windows. More pics soon.


Blogger Kay Huck said...


It was such a delight to meet you at the Books-a-Million book signing in Lake Charles. The Pulpwood Queens are enjoying your book and had to read it cover to cover and now pass it around.

You are so welcome to join our Pulpwood Queen Chapter anytime!! You would fit right in..

I sent a recommendation of your book to Kathy Patrick our Head Queen!

Happy Reading!
Southwest Louisiana Pulpwood Queen Kay Huck

June 24, 2008 at 7:04 AM  

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