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.