Mardi Gras Mood

Crisp January days always remind me of Alexander Melling and Lucy Easton in Perilous Confessions. The first book in The Possession Chronicles released three years ago this month and is set between December 1904 and February 1905.

This time of year, camellias are in bloom, chill days make me yearn for a cloak, and if I hear bells from the nearby Catholic church, consider me gone because my mind is reviewing the settings, costumes, and characters.

If the seasonally appropriate weather is in conjunction with Mardi Gras news, that compounds my distraction. Lavish masquerades, swoon-worthy scenes, and enough scandals to ignite gossip flames for weeks–that’s what you’ll find in Perilous Confessions.

Completing the 1905 carnival season, the only novella in the series comes into play. Mosaic of Seduction picks up immediately after Perilous Confessions, showcasing the aftermath of Alex and Lucy’s relationship, as well as bringing into play debutante Eliza Melling’s first year season in society. To say she makes the most of it might be an understatement.

Why am I rehashing books that have been out for a while? Because their Kindle editions have new pricing. Perilous Confessions and Mosaic of Seduction are now both priced at ninety-nine cents each.

It’s a great price to fill your digital library and tell your friends so you can discuss the series. The spectrum of characters has plenty of room for choosing sides, ‘ships, and everything in between. Root for your favorites and hope those you despise get what they deserve–it’s all acceptable within the pages of historic Mobile Bay.

As always, I’m happy to answer questions about any of my books or short stories. I also do author visits and presentations–both in person (Mobile and Baldwin counties in AL, and coastal Mississippi and Pensacola areas) and virtually. Check out the contact page for ways to get in touch.

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.

The Homes of The Possession Chronicles: Part 2

Welcome back to my mini blog series featuring the homes in The Possession Chronicles. Unless there are requests for other houses, this will wrap up the homes and next time I’ll share other setting locations. I include the addresses so you can do a virtual tour of the neighborhoods with an online map if you’d like.

Frederick Davenport’s house. Located north of downtown on State Street, Frederick’s house is visited (so far) in Perilous Confessions, Scarred Memories, and Hostile Charms. Less ostentatious than the other homes in the series, I think Freddy’s home was a perfect fit for the sensible accountant. (If you’re current with your reading of The Possession Chronicles, you’ll know where he lives as of the latest release.) I can imagine Phoebe sitting on the steps with Doff and her stuffed bunny.

254 State Street in Mobile, Alabama

This historic neighborhood is referred to as De Toni Square and is featured in local walking tours and visited by tourists stopping by the [haunted] Richards D.A.R. House Museum, which is around the corner. While not as flashy as the other homes, I find this one just as appealing. I went by the house a few weeks ago with a reader/friend while on our own Possession Chronicles walking tour of downtown and it’s being renovated. Hooray for people who restore historic buildings!

As a quick reference, though it isn’t seen on page as often, the house next door is what I used for the Beauchamp house that Darla moves into when she arrives in Mobile from Dauphin Island in Scarred Memories. It’s worth a peek.

256 State Street

Alexander’s Duplex. Just a few blocks west from the north side of Bienville Square, is what I dubbed “the duplex”. First seen on page in Perilous Confessions, we get a shocking return to it in Haunted Remains. Beware the happenings in the third floor front bedroom!

257 St. Francis Street

From my research, I learned that this late 1800s building originally had wooden balconies. The iron wasn’t added until the 1920s, but I use it in the series for two reasons: I prefer ironwork and I like to use things that readers will recognize when looking at the settings whenever possible.

As a bonus, here’s the inspiration for Seacliff Cottage, the Eastern Shore home of the Mellings. Seacliff Cottage is the only home in The Possession Chronicles that isn’t located where the house is in real life, and that I have never seen in person. The setting for the property is the Ecor Rouge area, and there was a historic settlement call Seacliff/Sea Cliff just to the south of it. I borrowed the name from that–and yes, I’ve seen old maps/books with the spelling listed both ways. I went with one word for my house.

Historic marker on Senic Hwy 98 near Montrose, Alabama.

As for the house itself, Seacliff Cottage is inspired by the William H. Mason House in Connecticut, chosen for it’s Gothic details and having the appropriate build era (pre-Civil War). I found this video on Youtube during my research phase, which helped me with the tone of the exterior, including the back porch and Magdalene’s favorite spot–the attached gazebo.

Since the time the video/information was posted, it has been saved from demolition and restored. To my joy, I recently stumbled across an updated photo of it on Instagram. Complete serendipity.

Be sure to check out the Mellings’ Government Street mansion as well as the Easton home on my previous post. Did I miss a house you wanted to see? Just let me know.

The Homes of The Possession Chronicles: Part 1

Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts featuring the homes of The Possession Chronicles characters. All the city houses in the family saga are actual homes in Mobile, Alabama. Part of my research is choosing locations that are historically accurate–houses, churches, parks, hotels, and more. For the most part, I keep to the facts, though I have been known to fictionalize a few things. (I typically note those liberties in the Author’s Note/Acknowledgement section.) To start things off, here are the two main family homes in The Possession Chronicles, the Melling and the Easton houses.

The Mellings’ Government Street mansion. This one I fudged on the build year by a couple to have it complete for their 1904 Christmas party in Perilous Confessions. (It is on record as being built “circa 1906”, so it’s not too far off.)

1209 Government Street, Mobile, Alabama

Designed by my favorite local architect, George B. Rogers, this beauty is one of dozens of homes he designed along Government Street and adjoining (now historic) neighborhoods. During the the first few decades of the twentieth century, everyone who was anyone in Mobile high society had a Rogers designed home. He built a wide variety of private and public buildings, including a skyscraper, a Scottish Rite Temple, the library, a public high school, and Bellingrath Gardens and Home (one of “America’s Castles”). I refer to George Bigelow Rogers as Mobile’s Frank Lloyd Wright. Want a peak inside the “Melling” home? Check out the Zillow listing from when it was last on the market.

The Easton Home. This majestic Queen Anne Victorian is a reader favorite. Built from a kit in 1897, the home has all the details you expect from a life-sized dollhouse.

1552 Monterey Place (at the corner of Catherine St.) in Mobile, Alabama

Today, the “Easton” home is a functioning Bed and Breakfast with a stellar reputation–and it’s for sale! Check out the gorgeous photos and all the stats here. Have you ever wanted to own a B&B? This is the perfect one to step into. The current owners are welcoming and full of all the Southern hospitality you’d expect. I give a nod to the Kate Shepard House name by having the oldest Easton sister, Susan, married to a David Shepard of Grand Bay.

What other homes or locations do you wish to read about and see? I’ll be sure to feature them in the weeks ahead.

Preorder the New Release Now

That’s right, you can now order your Kindle edition of Haunted Remains for the sale price of $0.99 and get it auto-delivered on its July 13, 2021 release date next Tuesday.

Confession, control, and crimes collide in this offering of the Southern Gothic family saga series. Set during 1912 in Mobile, Alabama, many of the threads in this novel link back to Perilous Confessions (and Perilous Confessions is currently on sale for $0.99 in its Kindle form as well, so get your friends started on their Possession Chronicles journey).

People often ask if they need to read the series from the beginning. I think readers could start at books 1, 2, or 4–or the novella #1.5–but for Tendrils of Passion, you need at least an understanding of Murmurs of Evil (they are true companion novels–first written as one massive book). For Haunted Remains and the previous novel, Hostile Charms, you need the full scope of all the drama for it to make the most impact–and that holds true for the final two novels after this as well.

Yes, there’s just two more novels to go in The Possession Chronicles after Haunted Remains. I’m happy with the way the series is taking shape in its physical form. I love the way the covers look all together. What about you? Do you have a favorite cover from the series?