Setting Locations of The Possession Chronicles: Part 2

After being delayed several times, here is the official post about The Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception as it relates to The Possession Chronicles. As a refresher, here is the link to the post with the Part 1, which has a bird’s eye view of the downtown Mobile area–including the cathedral. That post followed several others about the historic homes that serve as inspiration for the characters’ houses. Check those out here and here.

All the modern photos on today’s blog post were taken by me within the past five years, with the exception of the photo with me in it, which was taken by my friend and writing buddy Joyce Scarbrough.

A vintage postcard image of the exterior.
A recent front facing, taken from Cathedral Square.

The cathedral is close to 200 years old and is an iconic part of Mobile’s eclectic architecture. The building isn’t tall compared to the modern skyscrapers now populating the area, but see how it dwarves the automobiles in the photo above. As noted in the acknowledgements in Perilous Confessions, Cathedral Square was not in existence during The Possession Chronicles timeline. The park across from the cathedral was completed in the 1990s–a purposely chosen twisting of history to suit an author’s needs.

The back of the cathedral during the timeline of Perilous Confessions and Mosaic of Seduction.
Circa 1900. Power lines and horse dung–Old Mobile.
Note the building on the right, directly across from the church. It was not a park.

My favorite location on the cathedral grounds is the portico. It is truly awe-inspiring to stand on it. I’ve written a lot of scenes there, including in my first novel, Fortitude.

Aunt Norah puts on a feast for dinner and she and Mama enjoy the evening together. After supper, Kevin and I accompany them to The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. We pray and light candles and then congregate on the portico of the cathedral amid a gathering of women with their best fans warding off the heat. A few men use their hats to cool themselves too.

“This must be what it’s like to be near God. I feel small, like I don’t matter,” Kevin whispers to me.

“You matter, so don’t worry about feeling like an ant.”

“I never said a bug.” He looks like he’s been holding a burden of his own and is ready to lay it at the door of this massive church.

-Fortitude

One of my favorite photos of the portico. I had a 16x20in print made.

On the sixteenth of May, Eliza held her brother’s arm as they ascended the steps to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Mobile for the noon wedding Mass of Edmund Albert Easton and Mary Margaret Fitzgerald.

Circling a column like Folly in his approach, Sean’s golden eyes sparked mischief. “Have you come to celebrate escaping Edmund’s clutches?”

Laughing, Eliza offered her hand. “You know me well, Sean.”

Mosaic of Seduction

From 2016. For size reference, I’m six feet tall. The columns and portico are HUGE.

Catholics were well represented from the early days of Mobile’s rich French and Spanish beginnings and it was the Mobile Catholics who started the first carnival “Mardi Gras” in the country–which I touched on in this 2020 post. The prevalence of Catholics in Mobile is what caused me to use their faith for the majority of my characters. According to several Catholic readers I’ve heard from, I portrayed “Catholic guilt” well.

Vintage postcard of the interior.
The modern interior–lots of gilt splendor.

The cathedral wasn’t made into a Basilica until the 1960s, when the basement crypt for the bishops was added. I don’t have any information on the basement from before it was updated for that, so I used my imagination for the basement scene in Haunted Remains.

The spiral stairs leading to the basement crypt/chapel.

Did I cover the highlights you were expecting? Tell me if there is anything else you want to know and I’ll do my best to answer the questions. For more information, you can also check out the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception’s website.

And, in case you missed last week’s cover reveal, here it is again–with the cathedral.

Online Event!

In celebration of my critique partner’s debut novel that releases tomorrow, June 15, I’m participating in my first official event in over a year. WooHoo!

The event is a Zoom conversation all about Southern Gothic, with just a few highlights about each of our new releases. It’s FREE and hosted by The Haunted Book Shop here in downtown Mobile, Alabama, but everyone is welcome to join us–even if you aren’t local.

Register here to receive the link and come hang out with us for an hour. Candice Marley Conner‘s Southern Gothic YA mystery The Existence of Bea Pearl is the main release we’re celebrating. Besides me and Candice, author Jodi Cain Smith is joining us. She is the founder of the Mobile Literary Festival, which I’ve been lucky enough to work on with her from the beginning. Besides that connection, all of us (including Angela from The Haunted Book Shop) are Mobile Writers Guild members, so it will be like a literary family reunion.

If you have any interest in Southern Gothic or want to learn what it’s all about, join us. There will be a Q&A at the end too.

And, one more time, in case you missed the embedded hyper-link above. Here’s the registration information.

Release Day–Times Two

To close out 2019, I’m happy to report that two books I had a part in release into the wild today.

First up is Finally Home: A Christmas Anthology.

The anthology is a collection of romance short stories featuring rescued animals, compiled by Bienvenue Press and proceeds benefit animal rescue charities. “Grace Shadowed” is Possession Chronicles #3.5, but can be read alone. It’s available in print and ebook.

Also out today is Finder’s Keepers. For this book, I was interviewed (along with Candice Marley Conner) about my experience with a critique partner. I also served as a beta reader for the full manuscript and recommend it for writers of all experience levels, with or without an active critique partner. Find more information about the book here.That’s it from me for 2019. There are plenty of books to keep you reading into 2020–both mine and otherwise. This Christmas, and always, please consider leaving book reviews. It’s the perfect gift for authors. Until next year…

Book Signing, New Release, and More

First up, on Small Business Saturday (November 30), I’ll be at The Haunted Book Shop in downtown Mobile, Alabama, from 11 am until 1 pm, signing books and chatting with those who stop by. I’ll have a few freebies and fun visuals, so if you’re in the area, come say hello. The Haunted Book Shop, Mobile’s biggest and best indie bookstore, is two floors of literary finds in all genres–new and used. The first three Possession Chronicles novels (including this month’s release, Tendrils of Passion), as well as Fortitude and a couple anthology collections I have short stories in, will be available for purchase. And if you can’t make it in person, shop the online store–they ship!
On December 10, my next release hits the shelves. “Grace Shadowed” is a Possession Chronicles short story (Possession Chronicles #3.5, for those reading the series) that is included in Finally Home: A Christmas Anthology by Bienvenue Press.

The collection features animal rescue themed romances, so my offering is a bit fluffier  than my typical stories (pun intended.) I did manage to add in a few Gothic nods and dropped a truth bomb about one of the characters in the series (Ruth Melling) that you won’t find anywhere else. Pre-orders will be available soon. I’ll include the link in my December newsletter.

Also on December 10 is a release that will interest the writers out there. One of my critique partners and I were interviewed for Finders Keepers: A Practical Approach to Find and Keep Your Writing Critique Partner. I was able to beta read it and can say it covers everything about how to handle a critique partnership–and I’ve come to understand how good I have it with my situation. (Thanks, Candice, and members of Write Club!)

Happy reading–and Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating this week.

Mardi Gras History

Mardi Gras. I’ve always had a love or hate relationship with it. As a child growing up in California one of the highlights of the year was a box of beads, throws, and Moon Pies my mother’s cousin would send us. The magic of the sparkling beads, fun toys, and the wonders of sugar coated marshmallow pies. What wasn’t to love?

As I grew older, my understanding changed. Carnival is a time of excess and indulgent behavior and people use it as an excuse to sin. Behind the beauty in the pageantry, filthy behaviors happen within some circles. Tens of thousands—and more—dollars are spent only to pelt parade watchers with plastic, guzzle booze, and litter the streets. Think of all the good that money could be used for instead—a waste!

Then I discovered the historical origins and my understanding evolved further. Bachelors in Mobile began the first society as an impromptu parade through town to disturb the peace. The wildness was celebrating the New Year and the timing eventually expanded to be enjoyed before revelers humbled themselves for Lent. After the Civil War, people in the Port City needed something to lift their spirits and carnival was brought back. Today many of the societies donate to non-profits and do volunteer work throughout the year within the community.

While parades and extravagant balls aren’t my personal style, I’ve developed an appreciation for the colorful history it gives Mobile, Alabama. Before I began writing what is now the first book of The Possession Chronicles, Perilous Confessions, I researched the history of Mardi Gras in Mobile through books as well as newspaper articles from the 1905 season I wrote about. I knew I didn’t want to use real society names, so I asked the opinion of a writer friend who had tackled high society and Mardi Gras in a contemporary setting for her YA/NA novel Want. Stephanie gave me permission to use the society she created for her modern take on carnival in my series. I had a lot of fun creating the roots of Mystics of Dardenne and I’d like to think Isaac Laroche would find the Dardennes’ antics entertaining—at the very least.

Writing is all about stirring emotions. Things the author and the reader are passionate about are the best things to use, but passion isn’t always positive. The feelings I’ve had about Mardi Gras throughout my life (from wonder to disgust) can be found within Perilous Confessions. Just as with any topic, whatever your take on carnival season is I hope you’ll continue to find new information and insight to further your understanding of this unique event.

It’s release day for Perilous Confessions! You can read the first five chapters with the “Look Inside” option. (The digital sale price of $0.99 won’t last forever.) To check out Stephanie and her books, find her on Goodreads. Happy reading!