Thursday, December 12, 2013



he first story I can remember hearing as a child was Dickens’ Christmas Carol .  It was my sister, Mary Lou, who read it to me.  This wasn’t a Christmas tradition, she read it to me all year round, over and over, from the time I was still in diapers. 

A Christmas Carol was also one of the first books that I read from cover to cover, other than school assignments.  Mary Lou was 15 years older than me.  Her signal that it was story time was to begin playing the piano, a talent I never shared.  If the story was to be the book I called “Scrooge”, the song would always be Silent Night.

Since I was not yet in kindergarten, the story required a great deal of explanation.  I can remember the scene when Scrooge gets home and sees Marley’s face in the doorknocker.  “He died seven years ago, this very night.”  At this point in the story, my sister would look at me and always say, “Wouldn’t it be sad to die on Christmas Eve?”  A few more bars of Silent Night would flow from the upright piano.  All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child,”

The Dickens classic clearly influenced my own writing.  It taught me that a tale of the paranormal could be used to teach a moral lesson.  From its beginning, the genre we call “horror” has done this.  Mary Shelly clearly wrote of her concern about unchecked “enlightened” rationalism when she penned Frankenstein.  Without that deeper meaning, stories that are just scary for the sake of scary always seem flat to me.  Give me literature I can peel back and discover depth and layers of nuance.

“Holy infant so tender and mild.”  A little Hummel figurine of the Christ Child had been placed in the crèche on our fireplace mantel and I was busy mixing eggnog when the phone rang on December 24, 1998.  Mary Lou would not be coming over to my house as planned.  She had been found dead in her apartment, it was a stroke, sudden and lethal.  Somehow, I could hear her voice, once more asking me, “wouldn’t it be sad to die on Christmas Eve?”

Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

T.R. Heinan is author of L’immortalite: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


By T.R. Heinan
originally published on


om Thibodaux was the first uniformed officer on the scene. Until he saw the body, he thought the call would turn out to be another Halloween prank. That’s what he told Homicide Detective Bart Pellerin. The two cops stared down at the bloody corpse as the crime scene crew finished taking photographs. Every cop present was asking the same question.  “What happened to the rest of her face?”

After returning to the station, Pellerin played back the tape.  A “demon” killed a girl on Governor Nicholls Street next to the Lalaurie Mansion. At least that’s what all five callers told the 911 operator. None of the callers had actually seen this “demon”, but that’s what the only eye witness kept screaming. The flurry of cell phone calls weren’t going to be much help.

Even with half her face missing, it didn’t take long to get an initial identification of the victim.  Her name was Candice Boggs, a student at Tulane.  According to her boyfriend, Candy had become obsessed with a new television series about Delphine Lalaurie. She wanted to take a haunted walking tour on Halloween night to see the building people in New Orleans call THE haunted house.

The only person who would admit to witnessing Candy’s death was a drunk who called himself Pauley. Pellerin would know his true identity in a few minutes, after his prints were scanned.  Pauley was beyond intoxicated, so Officer Thibodaux was keeping an eye on him in Interrogation Room #3.

Pellerin watched boyfriend Steve Iverson in Room #2. The young man was nervous and his mood appeared to shift from confusion to anger to extreme grief and back to confusion in the span of less than two minutes.

   “What happened?” Pellerin asked Steve in a calm, controlled tone of voice.

   “Candy took a photo when our tour group was standing on Governor Nicholls Street.  It showed an orb in front of the Lalaurie Mansion,” said Steve.

   “An orb?”

   “A ball of light in the photo,” Steve tried to explain.  “Sort of a big deal for people into ghost hunting.”

   “And Candice was into ghost hunting?”

   “She loved all that paranormal stuff.  Can you take these cuffs off me?”

   “Maybe in a few minutes.  Why is it that you didn’t see what happened?”

   “Our tour group had rounded the corner onto Royal Street so the guide could explain the front door of the mansion.  It has all these odd carvings. Candy, ran back to see if she could get one more orb picture.”

   “So she went back to Governor Nichols Street and the rest of you were on Royal, is that right?”

   “For a few minutes, yes.”

   “Then what?” asked Pellerin.

   “This drunk guy came around the corner screaming at us.”

Pellerin was about to follow up with another question when a knock signaled that Officer Thibodaux was outside the door.  Pellerin walked out to the hallway to see what the uniformed cops had learned.

   “Our witness is Paul Jefferson,” Thibodaux said in a low voice.  “Been in and out of every rehab in New Orleans.  He’s useless. Delusional. The tour guide thinks the girl left the rest of the group and disappeared around the corner. The ticket agent for the tours doesn’t even remember her.”

   “Boyfriend probably bought the tickets,” said Pellerin.  “So, tell me about this demon.”

   “Pauley says he was having a drink on the sidewalk when a ball of light appeared over the Lalaurie house.  Says the girl came around the corner with a camera, from then on it just gets weird.”

   “Weird, how?” Pellerin asked.

   “He says the light grew in size, turned into a fourteen foot tall female with bat wings, bit the woman on the face and then vanished into thin air. I’m gonna ask him for a blood sample.  See what else he’s on besides booze.”

Pellerin scratched his head and asked, “So what do you think happened?”

  “Boyfriend did it,” said Thibodaux.  “It’s always the boyfriend.”

   “The tour guide says he was with the group.”

   “The guide thinks he saw him, but none of the rest of the group remembers whether he went with her or not.  All they recall is Pauley running around the corner screaming about a demon.”

    “Maybe”, said Pellerin, “but her face looked like it was bitten by a shark.  How long did it take for you to respond to the call?”

  “Less than two minutes”, answered Thibodaux.

  “So where is the rest of her face?” We talking about an eye, and a chunk of flesh, bone and brain larger than my fist!”

  “We’ve searched everywhere, not a trace”, said Thibodaux. “I don’t know how, but that kid did it.”

  “Detective,” the desk sergeant called out.  “You better hear this.  Caller says a creature from hell is attacking a taxi driver in front of the Lalaurie Mansion.”


  T.R. Heinan is the author of L’immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen


Monday, September 30, 2013

You may know the cover characters, Delphine Lalaurie and Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau,from having taken a haunted tour in New Orleans, visiting the Conti Wax Museum, or watching American Horror Story on TV. Now you can discover the entire history and the best of the urban legend in this 5 star reviewed page-turner by T.R. Heinan. Here’s what readers are saying in Amazon reviews:
“Descriptions of the different types of bigotry and racial history, such as the "Code Noir", are nothing short of amazing”,
“I could not put this book down”
“I was up all night reading” “The grizzly detail of the legend, the horrific acts, and the way T.R. Heinan described them sent chills up my spine”
“The history is right on and he really brought the characters to life for his readers”

Friday, September 27, 2013


Horrendous yet Uplifting, September 24, 2013

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This is a fictional story woven around the true history of Delphine Lalaurie whose desire for immortality came true, as her name will always be linked to the history of New Orleans. She beat and mistreated her slaves and sanctioned her husband's gruesome experiments in the name of science. Their antebellum mansion in the French Quarter has been preserved and today is said to be one of the most haunted houses in New Orleans, where the cries of the tortured and dismembered slaves can still be heard.
The story revolves around Phillipe Bertrand, the Saint Louis Cathedral's lay sacristan and the kindly Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, and their combined efforts to save a slave child and end the torture to the other slaves in the mansion.
The book is filled with hidden innuendo. Bertrand lives in a yellow brick house where today a yellow brick building actually exists, on Pirate's Alley, which becomes a metaphorical brick road for him. He gives the runaway slave girl Elise bread, and later pours her wine.
Marie Laveau practices voodoo but is also a regular member of the Catholic Church, and in reality, New Orleans is probably the only place in the world where the two come together today.
The story moves at a fast pace and is hard to put down.
The characters from the book are soon to be used by the hit TV series American Horror Story.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



 Is this a true story?  That’s the question I’m asked most often when people begin to read L’immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen.

 My account is fictionalized, in order to bring readers the very best of the history and the legend of Delphine Lalaurie and her “haunted” mansion in New Orleans.  Philippe Bertand, my protagonist in the story, is a fictional character.  Most of the rest of the “cast” are carefully researched presentations of real people who actually knew Madame Delphine.

 When, on April 10, 1834, an old slave named Arnante set fire to the Lalaurie Mansion (and to herself), the horrors of 1140 Royal Street were revealed to the public for the very first time.  Here is a contemporary newspaper account from the New Orleans Bee published the day after the fire.

Several slaves more or less horribly mutilated, were seen suspended from the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. Language is powerless and inadequate to give a proper recollection of the horror which a scene like this must have inspired. We shall not attempt it, but leave it rather to the reader's imagination to picture what it was!

    The slaves were the property of the demon in the shape of a woman whom we mentioned in the beginning of this article. They had been confined by her for several months in the situation from which they had thus been rescued and had merely been kept in existence to prolong their sufferings and to make them taste all that the most refined cruelty could inflict. But why dwell upon the particulars! We feel confident that the community share with us our indignation, and that vengeance will fall, heavily full upon the guilty culprit. Without being superstitious, we cannot but regard the manner in which these atrocities have been brought to light as an especial interposition of heaven.

 I decided to use the last line of this account in my book (page 106).  Whether the exposure of Delphine Lalaurie’s treatment of her slaves was divine intervention, or not, the event quickly became a key moment in the history of American horror.

 The story of Delphine Lalaurie has been popular since George Washington Cable published it in the 19th Century.  Lalaurie appears on Barbara Hambly’s excellent novel Fever Season, and most recently, Carolyn Morrow Long produced Madame Lalaurie:  Mistress of the Haunted House, an outstanding non-fiction text that carefully details the history.  Another short history was published in 2011 by Victoria Cosner Lave and Lorelei Shannon.  You will find a brief synopsis of the story in the (low budget) film, The St. Francisville Experiment.  On television, the Lalaurie Mansion has been featured on Haunted History and beginning in October, Kathy Bates will portray Delphine Lalaurie on the FX series, American Horror Story.

 So, yes, Virginia, there really was a Delphine Lalaurie and she still haunts the old mansion in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Read her legend in L’immortalité on Kindle or in trade paperback.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Delphine Lalaurie legend now available on as e-book

“L’immortalité:  Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen” by T.R. Heinan brings NOLA horror story characters to Kindle format


TUCSON, Ariz. – In “L’immortalité:  Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen” (ISBN 978-1-63003-914-1), author T.R. Heinan shows the lengths people will go in the quest for immortality.  The 5 star reviewed historical fiction novel combines horror, history and humor to tell the story of New Orleans “most haunted” house.

Set in the 1830’s Creole community of New Orleans, “L’immortalite” takes readers on a journey with Philippe Bertrand, a reclusive lay sacristan who lacks compassion for others after the death of his wife and mother.  He is led to a mansion owned by Madame Delphine Lalaurie, and there, he meets a young slave named Elise.  The events that follow result in the slave’s escape, the discovery of macabre medical experiments in the mansion’s attic, and the intervention of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau.

The paperback format of this book has been recommended by top-rated haunted tours in New Orleans and was shown at the 2013 HWA-Bram Stoker Awards weekend.  The growing popularity of book’s title characters bring thousands of New Orleans visitors each year to view “haunted” Lalaurie Mansion and the tomb of Marie Laveau.

Heinan hope readers will gain a deeper understanding of New Orleans history while enjoying the ride he takes them on through Philippe’s meditative quest for eternal life. The book is illustrated by Hollywood artist John Weston.

“L’immortalite:  Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen” is now available in Kindle format and is free to Kindle Prime users Amazon.

About the Author:

T. R. Heinan is a Minnesota native, born and raised in Duluth.  He attended Marquette University and worked as a journalist before beginning a career in investment banking specializing in the motion picture and airline industries. After retiring, Heinan has spent his time writing and serving orphaned and homeless children at a Mexican orphanage he helped to build.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

New Orleans Literary Tour

  There is something about New Orleans, especially the French Quarter, that just makes you want to read…and write.  Maybe it’s the history, the music or the haunted buildings.  Maybe it’s the legacy of Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Anne Rice.  Whatever it is, you’re sure to feel it moving in your soul when you walk the humid, colorful streets with names like Conti, Burgundy (emphasis on “gun”) and Bourbon.  Whenever I get to NOLA, I just want to rip my shirt open, scream, “Stella!!!” and pick up a book…or a pen. 

  I just returned from the Horror Writers Convention/Bram Stoker Awards at NOLA’s Hotel Monteleone.  What could be more fun than selling a book about Royal Street than actually doing it on Royal Street?  Even better than signing books, were my slow walks around the Quarter that revealed one deposit of great books after another.  Here are a few favorites.

You can take a great literary tour of NOLA by calling Ms.Inez and asking for a Heritage Literary Tour.  The number is 504-451-1082