Monday, December 24, 2012


A popular holiday drink in the days of Delphine Lalaurie (and still readily available in New Orleans)

Here's how to make your own:

Put three ice cubes in a cocktail shaker.  Add 1 ½ oz. of brandy, 4 oz. of milk, a dash of vanilla and 2 teaspoons of simple sugar. (You can make your own simple sugar by boiling equal amounts of sugar and water and letting it cool, or you can skip the simple sugar and substitute 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar).

Shake hard for 30 seconds, pour and add a bit of nutmeg.
Enjoy the holiday spirits.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Strange New Orleans: X-Mas in New Orleans

Strange New Orleans: X-Mas in New Orleans: Any holiday is reason to decorate and celebrate here in New Orleans and Christmas is no exception. Take a stroll through Jackson Squar...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Hanukah!!!  May weall be blessed with peace, light and perseverance. RT

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


 Two weeks ago, award-winning author Sandra Humphrey interviewed me on this blog.  Today, I received the shocking and tragic news that Sandra and her husband Brien were killed in a house fire in their Minnesota home.   May they rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.
 Sandra's literary work touched the lives of many and inspired countless young people. I urge my followers to look at her blog.

 With prayer and heartfelt sympathy to her family,
 T.R. Heinan

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


  For those who are not familiar with a blog hop, it is a lot like a treasure hunt.  One you find something on one blog, you hop over to the next link for more treasure. In this case, the treasure is a wealth of new and exciting books. Some are still being written, some are just being released.  Either way, for book lovers, it is a treasure and I would like to thank author

 Sandra McLeod Humphrey for tagging me to participate. Visit her blog at

In this particular post, I hope to answer 10 questions and you get to learn about one of two powerful women and the role they played in shaping the history and legends of New Orleans.
Q & A:
WHAT IS THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK?  L'immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen.

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM FOR THE BOOK?  Almost every day in New Orleans, hundreds of people pay and line up to take walking tours in order to see the exterior of Madame Delphine Lalaurie's haunted mansion and to visit the grave of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau.  A few years ago, I took one of those tours and I loved the story so much, I wanted to read a book about it when I got home.  That's when I discovered there was no book.  Lots of blurbs on the internet, chapters in a few books, references in a couple more, but no book that told the whole history and legend.  After I began writing, two non-fiction history texts were published that covered the factual history of Delphine Lalaurie (lots of footnotes, genealogy, and documentation).  Great stuff if you are a historian, maybe not if, like the hundreds of people who take the walking tours, you're looking for suspense and entertainment.

WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER?   It blends genres:  Historical Fiction and Horror.  On another level, it is an irreverent meditation on what people will do to persist beyond their earthly lives.
For Madame Delphine LaLaurie, Courteney Cox and for Marie Laveau, Zoe Saldana.  Sahara Garey would be ideal for the Lalaurie's runaway slave, Elise.  I think Robert Pattinson would make a good Philippe, the sacristan protagonist in my story.  Shaver Ross could play Bastien, Delphine Lalaurie's driver, and William Shatner should play Doctor Louis Lalaurie.

In this historical horror story set in antebellum New Orleans, a voodoo queen helps an elite slave owner, a cathedral sacristan, and runaway slave find immortality in ways both macabre and beautiful.


HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT?  The first draft took about 16 months, most of which was spent in doing research,  talking to sources, digging through libraries, and trying to get a feel for what it looked, smelled, and felt like in New Orleans in the 1830's.  It took another year to finish the story.

Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.

WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? 27 years ago, I founded a non-profit organization to provide for orphaned children and I spend most of my time working with our orphanage in Sonora, Mexico.  I wanted to find something to do on my free days that had nothing to do with seeing molested, abused and abandoned children.  I failed.  The book recalls the history of horrendous abuse of enslaved human beings.  I credit the guides at French Quarter Phantoms and Strange True Tours in New Orleans for giving me the subject matter and my two sons for encouraging me to write the book.

WHAT ELSE ABOUT YOUR BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER'S INTEREST?  L'immortalité is based on a true story and nearly all of the characters in the book were real people torn from the pages of New Orleans history. Each of the title characters has had her own cult following for nearly two centuries.  Most of the places mentioned in my book still stand today and has been called a "must read" for anyone who plans to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.  I am thrilled with all the reviews so far, especially  one  5 star review titled "Couldn't Put It Down" written by someone I met at a book signing. It said that a book "really has to grab me in the first few pages and Mr. Heinan did."

Here is my list of blog hop buds for next week:
They all write good stuff, so check out their blogs next Wednesday to read about their WIPs and New Releases. Thanks also to Sandra McLeod Humphrey for this interview.

Micki Peluso

Ronald Cherry

Friday, November 9, 2012

Writing a Mixed Genre Story

  When I first heard the history and urban legends surrounding Madame Delphine Lalaurie, I knew I had to write the book.  She was a colorful piece of New Orleans history and it was important to gather as many historical facts about the woman, the times, the culture and the physical locations as I could.  The research took eighteen months (after which, two very good history books were published that would have saved a great deal of duplicated efforts if they had come out just a bit sooner.

  People pay for tours and line up every day to see the Lalaurie Mansion, to visit the grave of Marie Laveau, to walk down Pirates Alley. I knew it was more than just the (sometimes-boring) historical facts that draw all these daily visitors to see the places where my story takes place.  Nearly two centuries of urban legend add to the fun, the thrill, the motivation to visit these historic sites, and if my book was to entertain, the best of that legend needed to be included. 

  L'immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen is both historical fiction and horror…and something else.  Fans of historic fiction tell me that I captured the times, what things looked, smelled and sounded like in 1833.  Horror fans will find the macabre, a mad scientist torturing people in his attic, the mystery of voodoo and a smattering of ghosts.   A closer look will, I hope, reveal the book as a meditation on the various ways people seek to persist beyond their mortal lives.  Even those who do not believe in the existence of the soul seek to live on in the minds of others.   I believe the real value of the book is in its reflection on immortality. Let me know what you think.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tucson Comic-Con was more fun than should be legal.  Thanks to all who visited my table.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'll be at the Tucson Comic-Con, Tucson Convention Center, Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

THE MULE CARRIAGE: short story for Halloween


  Annie couldn't remember when she last felt this good.  For years, her legs had been too weak to stand.  Even if she could stand, an alarm would go off.
  A cord, clipped to her gown, ran to a small box fastened to the back of her wheel chair, notifying Mrs. Thibodaux that Annie had slipped and needed attention.  Tonight, for some reason, the alarm cord was disconnected and Annie knew that she had the strength, knew that she could stand.  For the first time in four years, she could stand again! Once on her feet, the next step was obvious.  She would escape through the front door before anyone noticed.
   It wasn't that Mrs. Thibodaux's nursing home was unpleasant.  The meals were small but decent, the room was clean, and Mrs. Thibodaux was there to count the medications and assist with sanitary needs.  Nevertheless, it was not a licensed nursing home, and Annie knew it. The three story neoclassical structure on New Orleans' Royal Street was home to seven elderly women and a sweet old landlady who exchanged their endorsed Social Security checks for room, board, and minimal personal care.  Unlike a real nursing home, there were no outings, no trips to musical venues or city parks.  And that, thought Annie, was the problem.
  Annie was surprised how easy it was to slip out the door unnoticed.  She made it no more than half a block down Royal Street when one of the dozens of mule-drawn carriages that trot tourists around the French Quarter pulled up next to her.
  "Ride, Ma'am?" asked the handsome young driver.
  "I ain't got no money," said Annie.
  "Then this is your special day," said the driver.  "I know what you're lookin' to see and tonight your ride is free."
  "Sir, I can't even give you a tip," smiled Annie.
  "And I wouldn't accept one." said the driver as he helped her into the carriage. "My name's Gabe," he added.
  "They call me Annie," the old woman replied.
  The carriage trotted just a few blocks down the road before Gabe pulled on the reins and brought his mules to a halt in front of a club on Bourbon Street. 
  "I'll be right back, Annie," Gabe said as he jumped down from the driver's box and dashed into the club. She wished she could have gone in with him.  She could hear the sax and trumpet inside playing "When the Saints".  It was the most beautiful rendition of the song she had ever heard. 
  In a flash, Gabe walked out of the club with an elderly black man that Annie immediately recognized.
  "You're Lips Nelson," said Annie as the man climbed up next to her in the carriage.  "I heard you retired, that you had cancer."
  "That's true, ma'am.  I just wanted to stop by at the club tonight to see if the boys would let me sit in for one more set.  I tried but I just don't have the wind for playin' trumpet no more.  Lost my lip, too.  Felt like I was going to faint. Then I my friend Gabe grabbed hold of me.  He used to run a streetcar here in N'awlins before they tore up the tracks.  Used to play the trumpet sometimes when he rolled that old streetcar down the center lane. I'd say he inspired my career."
 "So, you remember seeing me back then?" asked Gabe.  "Most folks don't."
  The mules clopped their way down Bourbon Street until they suddenly lurched to a stop next to a young white girl lying face down in the street.  Her left cheek rested in a pool of vomit, a mix of stomach acid and numerous drinks with colorful names like Hurricane and Hand Grenades.   Three other young women who appeared to Annie to be in their early twenties knelt near their unconscious friend, crying and yelling, "Stacie, Stacie, wake up".
  None of them seemed to object when Gabe jumped down, picked up Stacie, and placed her in the shotgun position of the carriage driver's box. Maybe they are just too drunk themselves, thought Annie.
  The jolt of the carriage as it moved forward and turned down Conti Street seemed to return the drunken girl to semi-consciousness.  Gabe held on to her with a firm grip as she began to trash about and moan.  Her speech was slurred, but Annie thought she was saying, "It's too hot, too hot."
  "Don't be alarmed", Lips Nelson told Annie.  "They get that way sometimes when they've had too much to drink."  The carriage zinged and sagged until the Gates of St. Louis Cemetery Number One came into sight.
  As Gabe's chariot swung low through the gate, Annie began to remember. She saw her body slumping in her wheelchair and hearing Mrs. Thibodaux say, "She's having a stroke."  For an instant, she could see Lips Nelson lying across three chairs in the club, struggling to breathe. Next, there was a vision of Stacie checking her purse for condoms and snorting a line of cocaine in some Bourbon Street ladies' room before staggering into the street.   
  Annie turned away from the vision and saw a great number of men, women and children marching through the cemetery gate. It was the finest second line she had ever seen and her mother and husband were in it. Inside the gate there was daylight. Gabe's carriage stopped.
  "If you want to be in that number, you two best be going," said Gabe.  "I have to take Stacy someplace else."




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just finished a great book signing trip to New Orleans.  Here I am at the Cabildo by the picture of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. I am pleased to announce that  French Quarter Phantoms and Strange True Tours, NOLA's two top rated ghost tour companies according to TripAdvisor, are both recommending my book. By the way, I would recommend their walking tours even if they didn't like the book.  I have taken serveral tours with both companies over the past few years and simply loved them.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Our historic fiction/horror novel  debuts at historic and haunted locales:

SAT. OCTOBER 13  10 AM to 4 PM
Tucson Author T.R. Heinan will launch the sale of his novel, L'Immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen, at the Official Arizona Centenial Authors and Artists Weekend at the  haunted and historic

Gadsden Hotel,
1046 G Avenue, Douglas, Arizona


In the heart of NOLA's  Haunted French Quarter at the French Quarter Phantoms Ghost Tour Event,  a pre-Halloween signing will take place at

Flanagan's Pub
625 St. Phillip Street,New Orleans, LA


Sunday, September 30, 2012

The ghost of Judge Francois X. Martin:
   For ten years, beginning in 1816, Judge Martin lived in a house at 915 Royal Street, just a few blocks from the where the Lalaurie Mansion now stands. It's said that the reclusive Judge Martin lived alone with one male servant. After going blind, he often had to be assisted back home when he lost his way around the French Quarter. Frequent reports suggest that the blind judge still haunts his old Royal Street home, bumping into things at all hours, tampering with the plumbing and opening doors.
  The house is now a small B&B, The Cornstalk Hotel, named for its distinctive and well-known fence. The fence came along after Judge Martin entered the spirit world. The legend is that a later owner built the fence for his wife who missed the cornfields of her native Iowa. Another version says it was built for his mistress. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a guest here when she was inspired to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. These days, guests at the Cornstalk Hotel still report hearing footsteps in empty hallways and say the ghost of the blind judge even bumps into guest's beds at night. If you are visiting New Orleans, be sure to take a look at the Cornstalk Hotel and the Andrew Jackson Hotel next door, also said to be haunted. The walk down Royal Street to the most haunted house in NOLA, the Lalaurie Mansion.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Deanna Lynn Sletten: Author Interview: T.R. Heinan

Deanna Lynn Sletten: Author Interview: T.R. Heinan: Hi all, Today I'm talking with T.R. Heinan, author of the novel L'Immortalit é: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen which will be publi...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Introducing the Voodoo Queen

Although dates as early as 1794 appear in some biographies, Marie Laveau was probably born in 1801.  She was a free woman of color, native to New Orleans, who married Jacques Paris at St. Louis Cathedral.  The famed Father Antonio de Sedella (Pere Antoine) celebrated the nuptial Mass in July 1819 but did not record the marriage in the parish records until the following month.
We know that Jacques Paris, sometimes called Santiago Paris, came to Louisiana from Haiti after the Haitian Revolution and that his marriage to Marie Laveau lasted only about a year before he died. The "Widow Paris" then became a hairdresser catering to some of the most influential French Creole women in New Orleans. She soon took up with Christophe Dumesnil de Glapion, with whom she had many children, most of whom died as children from the yellow fever and cholera epidemics that plagued New Orleans.  It is commonly believed that Marie was buried in the Glapion family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1, although, like most "facts" about Marie Laveau, the actual location of her tomb remains in dispute.

Her home on St. Ann Street was demolished at the beginning of the 20th Century, but a sign marks the approximate spot where it once stood.  Unfortunately, the dates on the sign are almost certainly incorrect.

She is perhaps best remembered for her snake, named Zombie, her dancing in Congo Square, her spy-network, and most of all, her Voodoo. Her St. John's Eve ceremonies at her cabin near Lake Ponchartrain continued to draw large crowds for years, with as many as 12,000 attending near the end of her life. She attended daily Mass at St. Louis Cathedral and was instrumental in introducing various elements of Catholicism to the Louisiana version of Voodoo.
One of her daughters, also named Marie, is often confused with Marie the First in many accounts of her life.  It was reported by the local press that Marie Laveau died in 1881, but many people reported seeing her in New Orleans after that date.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The following was written by the Chicago-based Chief Investigator for Plains Paranormal and will be posted on their website.  Right now, they are having some kind of computer glitch, so I am posting it here for them.  I have had the opportunity to work with this group in the past and love this account of their investigation at the Lalaurie Mansion. -T.R. Heinan

The LaLaurie Mansion
 Unnoticed amongst a comfortably sized crowd, I moved away from a pre-Mardi-Gras Bourbon Street.  Slowly in barely noticeable increments, the buzz of the street lessened with each stride, but never really ceased. Surprisingly I found myself virtually alone dwarfed by the growing shadows cast by an unfamiliar architecture.  Each step took me deeper into the city’s past.  Each step grew more eerie.   Each step led me until I was before a gray monolith standing sentinel on the corner of two French Quarter streets.  This was a domicile that symbolized the segment of New Orleans history that was characterized as dark, seedy, and dangerous.  For a few silent moments I stared until I began to feel what this building represented.   Reluctant to admit it then and even more so now, there was an uncomfortable energy that was palpable if you allowed it in.  The tragedy, barbarity, sorrow, suffering, pain, and despair began to course through my veins flowing unbridled into my core.  A familiar heaviness reacquainted itself.  The hedonistic levity of Bourbon Street seemed a thousand miles despite the fact that the glow of the neon still a few short blocks away pulsed into the nighttime sky illuminating it with a pinkish-orange glow.   And while the allure of Bourbon Street still called, the gravity of the LaLaurie Mansion held me firmly in place before it.

In a city known for hot spots, the LaLaurie Mansion is perhaps the city’s hottest paranormal spot.  Dating back almost 200 years, the LaLaurie Mansion is believed the most haunted location in a city where the spirits are fueled by a rich, yet often dark history.  Located in the incomparable French Quarter of New Orleans, the past is almost palpable.  The Lalaurie Mansion stands on the corner of Governor Nicholls (formerly known as Hospital) and Royal, anchoring the city’s historic seedy underbelly to the present. While the house changes owners at an unusually high rate, the constant is an array of ghosts according to multiple accounts.

The source of these ghostly accounts is almost too horrific to bear repeating.  The principals were Delphine LaLaurie, a rumored black widow-type, and her third husband, Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, central members of the New Orleans social elite.  Lavish parties for society members were hosted by the LaLauries and catered by Negro slaves, a practice common to the antebellum South.  But the sadistic events contained within those thick walls were hidden under the noses of party goers and would have remained hidden had it not been for a kitchen fire on April 10, 1834.  After initial attempts to extinguish the flames failed, the fire spread as the firefighters arrived.  The fire was eventually brought under control.  The subsequent inspection of the premises produced a locked attic door.  Concerned that uppermost floor contained remnants of the blaze, the men broke the door where they were immediately met by the pungent smell of death.  Entering the room, the rescuers found a dozen bodies of slaves shackled to the wall.  Some were dead while others were clung to life.  But the situation was much more horrific than the confinement and mistreatment of the human beings.   Making the scene even more barbaric was the fact that crude medical experiments had been performed on the slaves. Even more dramatically, as a vengeful crowd assembled rapidly seeking instant justice, a black carriage burst through the mansion gates escorting the LaLaurie’s to a momentary safety.  Their actual destination and fate remains a mystery.

The house became a vile reminder to its horrific past.  As a result, the house remained empty for years falling into disrepair.   Instantly stories of ghostly apparitions were spotted.  A white woman with a whip patrolled the above floors.   A blood soaked man was seen appearing in the attic windows.   Mangled slaves were spotted making their way through the mansion.  Their screams were audible to those below.  Later a wave of Italian immigrants moved into the neighborhood and occupied the house en masse.   Animals were reported to have been mutilated and butchered in and around the house. Children even claimed to have been attacked by a woman in white brandishing a bullwhip.  Now the mansion has been restored and divided into upscale residences.   Work continues on the mansion to this day.   

So on that still spring Thursday and a similar Saturday, I was able to conduct an investigation of the building.  After review the recordings made from those evenings, nothing paranormal was discovered.  There were also no anomalous EMF fields detected.  No EVP’s were recorded.  And other than the aforementioned heaviness and emotionally charged atmosphere of the mansion, I experienced nothing that I would describe as paranormal. 

However, there were some interesting visually anomalies that were captured on camera.   On Thursday night, I snapped a few dozen photos of the LaLaurie Mansion and nothing seemed askew in the photos.   During my investigation Saturday night, I began to notice orbs appearing in the photos displayed on the digital viewer on the back of the camera.  Unfortunately, after the investigation I uncharacteristically lost my camera while transferring into a cab.   It was unfortunate because I was really intrigued by the orb activity that I was witnessing.  This was especially true considering that I witnessed no such activity the night before.  I know that orbs can be misidentified and are often unreliable, but I felt pretty confident in what I was witnessing.  Then what was very interesting to me was when I viewed some similar photos that were taken by another researcher the night before at the LaLaurie Mansion.   In the photos were some typical orbs captured which seemed to validate my experience.  In that collection of photos there was perhaps one of the most impressive photos of an orb as I have ever seen.    It had the impression of an energy filled blue-cat’s eye marble.   It was stunning.  According to the person who had taken the photo, some locals seem to verify our experiences by stating that orb activity at the LaLaurie Mansion was relatively common.  They even were able to make claims about the best nights of the week to view them as well as the best time of the night.

While I would have liked to been able to have produced more evidence during my visit to the LaLaurie Mansion, I was impressed with the orb activity that I was able to witness.  The energy produced by those tragic, sadistic events fueled the orbs that were witnessed as well as dark emotions that linger around that mansion.   The emotive force that emanates from the mansion is also equally impressive.  It is clear to see why the LaLaurie Mansion is rumored to be possibly the most haunted house not only in New Orleans, but America.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

 Another question from a fan:
J.C. of Mamaroneck, New York writes:  A tour guild told me that 127 slaves died in the fire at the Lalaurie Mansion.  Is this true?

A fire broke out on April 10, 1834 at 1140 Royal Street revealing a number of slaves who had been malnourished and mistreated.  The best historical record seems to indicate that seven such slaves were found in the upper level of the kitchen annex.   Madame Lalaurie appears to have owned about 40 slaves during her lifetime.  The condition of the seven who were rescued was enough to seal the Lalauries' reputation as "monsters" when over 2,000 people showed up at the Cabildo in New Orleans to view the victims and see if the local newspaper reports were true.  I don't give a number in my book, but like the urban legend that suggests more than seven.  On the other hand, 127 is ridiculous.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Recently some fans have sent in a few questions.

MF in Florida wants to know, "Did Marie Laveau and Delphine Lalaurie actually know each other?
One of the things that led me to write this story is that it deals with a time when the two most influential people in New Orleans were both women.  Because of their social influence and the fact that they lived within walking distance of each other, there can be little doubt that each was well aware of the other.  On the other hand, at that time it would have been most unlikely that a woman of Delphine Lalaurie's social standing in the French Creole community would associate with a free woman of color such as Marie Laveau.  Still, the fictional connections in my book are not entirely impossible.  The fun part of historical fiction is the "what if "factor and my goal is to entertain.

TB in Arizona asks:  Most accounts I have read say that Delphine Lalaurie was killed by a wild boar in France.  Is that what happens in your book?
The jury is still out as to the date, place and manner of Madame Lalaurie's death, but there is some evidence to indicate that she may have returned to New Orleans and died in her bed.  I won't reveal what happens to her in my book, but telling fans of this legend that she just died in her bed is, to me, a bit like standing in Macy's at Christmas time and telling kids there is no Santa Claus.

RJ in Louisiana said:  I had a chance to read an advance copy and on the second read, I discovered that your story appears to be written on multiple levels.  Am I right?
Well, that is at least is what I tried to accomplish.  On the surface, it is a new spin on an old horror legend.  It is also a meditation on the question of life after death as witnessed by a man whose mother's rosary beads serve as an uncut umbilical cord that prevents him from maturing spiritually.  I have a personal hang-up about how some writers tend to overuse the word "turn" and so there are only two "turns "in my book. One is when my protagonist "turns" into Pirates Alley at the beginning of the story and the other when he "turns" out of it as he reaches the final plot point.  Pirates Alley becomes his "yellow brick road" as he moves through the various "monomyth" steps of his hero's journey.  A clue to this is that he lives in a yellow brick house (which in the real world is located about where the yellow brick building that once was home to William Faulkner now stands).  Since my protagonist is a bookworm, I think he would have liked that touch. The occasions when he offers bread, and later wine, to a runaway slave also have symbolic significance in the story.

Got a question of your own?  Tweet me at

Saturday, August 11, 2012


G. Bernard Ray, author of The Final Shortcut

G. Bernard Ray is, like me, an avid traveler and has spent time living in both Mexico and the Caribbean (places where I do mission work for orphaned children).  We also share an interest in writing horror fiction.  His novel, The Final Shortcut tells of a federal agent who stumbles upon evidence leading to a psychotic serial killer in Kentucky's Bluegrass Mountains.  He doesn't shy away from the gruesome when it adds to the story and shares my enjoyment of horror told in a cinematic style.  Ray good bet if you are looking for a thriller.

Juanima Hiatt, author of The Invisible Storm

In the realm of non-fiction, Juanima Hiatt courageously reveals the pain of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in her powerful memoir The Invisible Storm.  A victim of multiple rapes and abuse as a child, Hiatt breaks her silence in hopes that this work will help others discover freedom beyond their pain.  I am sharing her book with the staff at my orphanage in Mexico where we see versions of this story all too often.

Brenda Sorrels, author of The Bachelor Farmers

Set in Northern Minnesota in the winter of 1919, The Bachelor Farmers tells a story of two Norwegian brothers who learn the meaning of love after one of them hires an Ojibwa woman to help them and falls in love.  Brenda captures the reality of a Minnesota blizzard (I've experienced many as a native Minnesotan) and she artfully explores the world of immigrants and the complexity of relationships, themes that are important to me.

Deanna Lynn Sletten author of Sara's Promise (and more)

Deanna lives near my old home in Northern Minnesota and is an author who writes "women's fiction"(but I suspect a fair number of men will enjoy her work, as well). Deanna's books include, "Widow, Virgin, Whore", "Memories", and "Outlaw Heroes", a fiction adventure novel for kids ages 10 & up. Deanna's next novel, "Sara's Promise", will be available in December 2012.

Kenneth Weene author of Tales From the Dew Drop Inn (and more)

My fellow Arizonan, Ken Weene, wrote Tales From the Dew Drop Inn with a dark humor and irreverent style that is right up my alley.  His talents as a playwright, poet and novelist are increasingly celebrated here in the Grand Canyon State and do to his proximity to me; this is one author I may actually get to meet someday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Image of Madame Lalaurie by artist John Weston for the cover of L'Immortalite

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cloaked in the genres of horror and historical fiction, L'immortalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen is a meditation on the different paths people take in search of immortality – life after death.
My story begins in a cemetery, yet opens with the words, "New Orleans was coming alive".  By the tenth paragraph, a tourist on Bourbon Street is singing along as a band plays When the Saints. "I want to be in that number."
The theme of the near universal desire to "be in that number", to live after we die, continues when my protagonist, Philippe Bertrand, meets Elise, the runaway slave he will help to rescue.  Her first words to him are, "I don't want to die".

As the book continues, using carefully researched historical details and the best of urban legend, it reveals Bertrand, Elise, Madame Delphine Lalaurie and physician husband each seeking immortality in varied, sometimes comedic, ways. Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau assists as she fights her own battle with the question of life after death. Their paths intersect on Royal Street at New Orleans' most haunted house, the Lalaurie Mansion.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Writers, have you ever used a McGuffin in your story?

A McGuffin is a plot device used in fiction.  It is something, a motivator, usually an object that is desired and sought after by the story's characters.  In itself, it usually has no intrinsic value, but it represents some goal related to the theme of the story.  Characters go to great length to pursue the McGuffin, yet there is seldom much narrative explanation about what makes it so desirable.  The McGuffin's specific nature is typically left open to interpretation.

The use of a McGuffin is common in film.  Hitchcock popularized the term and often used the technique.  George Lucas described it as the story's driving force. A McGuffin can also be used in literature. It tends to play a more important role early in the story and often, but not always, shows up again at the climax. 

In L'Immortalite: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen, the McGuffin is a blue velvet voodoo gris gris bag containing a small piece of bone from the jaw of a pig.  In itself, it has no value, but it represents immortality - life after death - the driving force for each of my characters. 

Next time you read a mystery or watch a film, look for the McGuffin.

Friday, June 29, 2012

At the Lalaurie Mansion

In Pirates Alley

Shooting video for the book trailer

Thursday, June 7, 2012


A few more favorite spots in and New Orleans' French Quarter

Last week I wrote about my favorite haunted places in NOLA.  Here are a few other spots that may not be haunted, but which haunt my memories because of their superior quality and service.

When I was first inspired to write L'immortalité, Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen, Anderson Cooper was in New Orleans covering the oil spill.  Night after night, he would remind viewers that the seafood in NOLA was safe and delicious.   It still is.  If you like oysters, stop in at the Desire Oyster Bar at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon Street for some of the best.  Across the street at 739 Conti Street, Oceana Restaurant serves great seafood, delicious turtle soup, and even gator tail bites.

If you want to see gators rather than eat them, look at Hollywood artist John Weston's illustration in my book or for the real thing, call Cajun Encounters Tour Co at 1-866-928-6877 for an "as seen on TV" swamp tour.


Visit Antoine' Annex at 513 Royal Street.   This place has good coffee, too. Good walking tours start next to this place.


Probably the best steak I ever had was at Dickie Brennan's at 716 Iberville Street.  My personal experience here was great food and fantastic service.  I wish that whoever trains the staff would visit every other restaurant in America and train them the same way.

To enjoy the music that made New Orleans, Maison Bourbon at 641 Bourbon Street offers live jazz that is a refreshing change from the otherwise uninspired and uninspiring music found on Bourbon Street.  Decent drinks at a decent price.

For that old French Provincial feeling and, during the day, a light bite to eat with your drink, try Flanagan's Pub at 625 St Philip Street.  Open 24 hours. Good walking tours start from here.

To beat the heat, visit Harrah's New Orleans at 228 Poydras Street.  The refrigerated mug well that runs the length of the bar will keep your beer cold as long as you are there.  Judge Jean Canonge, a historic character in my book who enjoyed gaming, would have loved this place.

  No consideration was offered or accepted for inclusion on this list.  There are many other great places to visit in New Olean's and this unsolicited list merely reflects the personal opinion of the author.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

 Ten Haunted Spots in New Orleans:

From T.R. Heinan, author of L'immortalité:  Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen

  One of the great things about reading (or writing) historical fiction like L'immortalité  is being able to actually visit many of the locations mentioned in the story.  New Orleans, Louisiana has been called the most haunted city in America, so this list is hardly comprehensive but here are 10 of my favorite haunted spots in the Crescent City:
1.       The Lalaurie Mansion , 1140 Royal Street
 The former home of Delphine Lalaurie is known in New Orleans simply as the haunted house.  Stories of hauntings began almost immediately after the house caught fire on April 10, 1834.  The property is privately owned, so it's unlikely that you will get inside, but reports of full body apparitions on the gallery, ghost photos in the windows and the sounds of chains and screams have all been reported.  I captured some interesting orbs the first time I photographed the mansion and was told that Thursday nights are best for photographers seeking  orbs. The best way to see the mansion is to take one of the many walking tours available in the French Quarter.

2.       The Cornstalk Hotel, 915 Royal Street
 Also on Royal Street, not far from the Lalaurie Mansion, is the former home of Judge Francois X. Martin.  Judge Martin lived there before the well-known cornstalk fence was constructed. He went blind during the ten years that he resided with his servant at this address. Guy Bertrand, one of the characters in L'immortalité meditates on Judge Martin's blindness before encountering the ghosts of two slaves at the Lalaurie Mansion.  Some visitors to the hotel claim that the old judge still stumbles around the place, knocking things over late at night. It is also said that Harriet Beecher Stowe was inspired to write Uncle Tom's Cabin while visiting this house.

3.       Pirates Alley
  Located between St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo, Pirates Alley is home to my protagonist, Philippe Bertrand.  If, at night, you hear an angelic spirit voice singing the Kyrie in Pirates Alley and nobody seems to be around, you may have encountered the ghost of Pere Dagobert who served as pastor of the church beginning in 1745.  Reports of his spirit      singing the Kyrie here are  probably the oldest ghost story in New Orleans.

4.       St. Louis Cemetery #1
    Recently named the most haunted cemetery in America in an on-line poll, it is here that my     story begins with the line, "New Orleans was coming alive".  This is where you will find the  tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (and a couple of other tombs often mistaken for hers).  Please do not mark the tomb with an X.  It is illegal and considered vandalism.

5.       Congo Square
  Adjacent to and part of Louis Armstrong Park, Congo Square sits on land that was once      considered sacred by the Houmas Indians.  Later it was the site used by a "whites only" circus.  Its musical renown traces to the Sunday dance gatherings of free people of color and black slaves in the 19th century.  It was here that Marie Laveau danced with her snake,  Zombie, and here that she transformed the nature of voodoo in New Orleans.  There are some who say that the ghost of composer and pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk haunts the       area outside the gate to Congo Square. As a boy he often visited Congo Square during the very years that my story takes place.

6.       1020 St. Ann Street
 Not far from Congo Square is the spot where Marie Laveau's house used to stand.  He rhome is long gone, but a plaque on the cottage at 1020-1022 St. Ann Street marks the location.  According to the plaque, the Voodoo Queen began living there in 1839.  I believe this is incorrect.  Martha Ward, in her carefully researched book, Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau, states as "historic fact" that Marie Laveau moved to this address in 1832.  For at least 80 years now, there have been reports of Marie Laveau sightings in the vicinity of this house.  One tour guide I met even claims she showed up on one of his tours.

7.       Pat O'Brien's, 718 St Peter
    I launch my story with a tourist spilling a Hurricane drink.  We can assume that he bought a go- cup at Pat O'Brien's, home of the original world famous Hurricane. During my many visits to at O'Brien's over the past thirty years I have heard numerous reports of cold spots and strange sounds in the piano bar and a spirit that moves items about in the courtyard. Supposedly there is also a ghost that haunts the Ladies Room.  (Sorry, no first-hand knowledge about that one.)

8.       May Baily's at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel, 415 Dauphine Street
       Philippe Bertrand, the protagonist in my story is a bibliophile who always wears white suites. I created him that way before I discovered that a male ghost who wears white supposedly likes to knock books off the shelves of the little library in May Baily's.  During my visit in January this year, there was much discussion amongst the patrons about a full-body  apparition that they said took place on the doorsteps of the bar a week earlier.  It can't be  Philippe; he's fictional, but perhaps  it's the ghost of John James Audubon who painted many of his bird pictures in what is now the hotel meeting room.  A couple of the rooms at the Dauphine Orleans are also said to be haunted by a black man named George, ladies of the evening, and civil war soldiers.

9.       Café Du Monde, 1039 Decatur Street.
     In my book, everything goes haywire for Philippe Bertrand after he refuses a beignet but     accepts an invitation for coffee at the Lalaurie Mansion.  For a safer and more satisfying way to enjoy beignets and coffee, Café du Monde is the place. Nothing says NOLA history better than Café Du Monde where they've been serving delicious coffee and beignets since 1862.  Legend has it that a ghost sometimes waits on tables. It must be a phantom who likes  chicory in its coffee and powdered sugar on its shirt.

10.   Brennan's, 417 Royal Street
      Philippe Bertrand's drink of choice was Brandy Milk Punch, which was quite popular in his time.  You can still enjoy this 19th century favorite at Brennan's, as well as their famous  creation, Bananas Foster.  Reserve in advance for Breakfast at Brennan's to celebrate any  special occasion.  I plan to
go there to celebrate the publication of L'immortalité.  In the Red       Room of  Brennan's there have been reports of strange sounds, footsteps, flickering lights and sightings of  a  ghostly figure.  It could be the ghost of a boy who once lived at this address (and who later killed  imself at the Cornstalk Hotel) or might have something to do with a murder-suicide that is  said to have happened here back when Abe Lincoln was president.

 Walking Tours

Probably the best way to visit the first four places on this list is to talk one or more of the many great walking tours available in New Orleans. Some of the best are offered by Strange True Tours 504-258-0760 and French Quarter Phantoms 504-666-8300.

      Don't Make Marie Laveau Angry

Please keep in mind that most of these haunted places are private property.  Don't trespass, litter or create disturbances, and please respect places of national heritage and sacred spaces.  Remember that spirits and spirits don't mix.  Enjoy, but don't spoil things for others.

 No consideration was offered or accepted for inclusion on this list.  There are many, many other great places to visit in New Orleans and this unsolicited list merely reflects the personal opinion of the author.

For more about my book visit: