Two Years Old

Perilous Confessions, book one of The Possession Chronicles, was published two years ago. Since then, there’s been seven related short stories published and the first five novels in the series are available. And it all began when the editor of my first two novels (Fortitude and Corroded) encouraged me to try my hand at horror in the autumn of 2015. I went with Southern Gothic, though a couple of the books (Murmurs of Evil and Tendrils of Passion, which I wrote first) are considered Gothic horror.

I’m sure the news is in your part of the world is similar, but the big announcement along the Gulf Coast is the 2021 carnival season being put on hold/cancelled/adapted. People are still decorating, buying king cake, and eating Moon Pies, but large gatherings like the masquerades and parades aren’t happening this winter. That sounds like a good excuse to dive into Mardi Gras seasons of the past.

Now is a great time to visit or revisit the book where it all began–or did it? Besides being written after I completed what is now books two and three in the series, I also wrote a prequel short story to The Possession Chronicles after writing all eight novels. Have you read “Masked Flaws”? It takes place the winter before Perilous Confessions, during the infamous 1904 carnival season mentioned in the first book. The year of Edmund Easton’s initiation into Mystics of Dardenne.

You can read “Masked Flaws” in the Mobile Writers Guild’s Mardi Gras Pieces anthology or claim a free digital download of the short story after subscribing to my monthly newsletter.

Do you have a favorite Mardi Gras themed read?

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!