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 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.

Summer Writes, Reads, and Edits

It’s meltingly hot here in Mobile, Alabama, which means it’s a typical August along the Gulf Coast. My favorite thing to do in August are indoor activities including reading, writing, and editing.

On August first, I completed the first draft of the final manuscript in the trilogy I began in the autumn of 2019. It took me until December 2020 to complete the first book (about fourteen months), but this year I was able to knock out the second and third over-written installments in three months or less each. Hooray! (And when I say over-written, I mean it. The third project ended at 126,165 words.)

My plan is to release this nameless trilogy after the main body of The Possession Chronicles is completely published–which will hopefully be by the middle of 2022. That means plenty of time for working the dozens of rounds of edits each of the manuscripts need before they become books. Last week, I chronologically edited all three of them for the first time and I’m pleased with the overall trilogy arc, but I know individually they each need a lot of cutting and polishing.

Right now, I’m working my final personal round of edits on Barren Devotion, the seventh novel in The Possession Chronicles. It’s officially draft twenty-five, but it will get a couple more go-throughs with the editor I’m assigned to work with by Bienvenue Press. I’m hoping for a Winter release, but it will be Spring ’22 at the latest.

Now for the reading news. Last week in POSSESSED: Timeless Gothic Reads group on Facebook, I co-hosted a week-long discussion on Darkwater by Dorothy Eden. It was great to share one of my favorite novelists with fellow Gothic fans, many who were reading her for the first time. Dorothy Eden is my favorite for Gothic Romance (which Darkwater is), but I love her family sagas even more.

One of the visuals I shared during the discussion.

My current read is Steamboat Gothic, a delicious Southern Gothic family saga by another favorite author, Frances Parkinson Keyes. I’m not quite halfway and already it’s nudged into the top five of her books that I’ve read so far. Thinking it will be a top three contender.

You can follow all my reading adventures on Goodreads. I chart what I’m reading and leave short reviews when complete. I’ve read 30 books so far this year.

What are you reading right now?

Springing Along

After finishing the first draft of my latest project at the end of March, I took a few days off to reset my mind. Powering through 118,000 words in just over two months merits a mini-break. Then, I dove into what I think was my final round–or next to final round–of self edits (draft twenty-four) of Barren Devotion, the seventh novel in The Possession Chronicles.

One of the period pieces of photography that helped me set the mood for Barren Devotion.

Yesterday, I completed the first draft of a short story to submit to the next Mobile Writers Guild anthology. The deadline is May first, so I’ll be powering through edits the next few weeks. I even gave it the first round of edits last night after only a couple hours away from it–not the best thing to do, but I’m on a time crunch. Generally, the longer you’re away from a project, the easier it is to see the flaws. Fortunately, I have just enough time to submit the story to my critique group so it can have more eyes on it before submitting. That’s always a good thing–especially for writers like me with dyslexic tendencies.

It looks like the rest of April will be spent editing the short story, while waiting to hear from the editor of Haunted Remains, the 6th novel in The Possession Chronicles. The next book releases this July and several editing rounds with a professional will be happening before then. And the cover art–I always look forward to that.

I already have an idea for another project, but it’s on hold until I see to these deadline projects. I tend to get obsessive about projects and find it difficult to balance more than one at a time, so I hold back the new ideas until I get a clear creative calendar. That doesn’t work for everyone. A lot of people I know, if they don’t act on an idea, they lose it. For me, it builds up like pressure behind a dam and when I get to it, it spews out. Not a pretty visual, but first drafts are messy.

At least, that’s how it’s worked for me the past few years. Creativity has an ebb and flow, just like the rest of life. I used to not be able to fast draft. Now I can–except for last year. It took me thirteen months to draft one novel when the previous six novels took an average of two months each. But this last one put me back on my fast draft schedule. I don’t force it–I go with it. Life is too short to be overly hard on yourself, especially with creativity. Take breaks, reset, allow your output to change with life’s demands. We’re human.

Stellar Digital Sale

In conjunction with the release of the first novella in The Possession Chronicles, Bienvenue Press is running a rare sale on the Kindle editions of the first four books in the series. If you haven’t heard yet, Mosaic of Seduction, The Possession Chronicles #1.5 novella, is now available for download.

To go along with release week for the novella, the publisher has put the first three novels in the series on sale–major sale!

Perilous Confessions is FREE!

Murmurs of Evil saves you three dollars!

Tendrils of Passion is on sale for two dollars off!

Add that with the free novella download of Mosaic of Seduction and readers can get the first four books in The Possession Chronicles for the price of one regular download.

If you haven’t tried The Possession Chronicles, now is the time to read. If you love the series, tell you friends. Post the link to this update or reblog it to your readers. Share the love for this historical Southern Gothic family saga series.