From the beginning, there was no question “The Keepers”, would be set in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the French Quarter. A friend asked me why I’d chosen NOLA, in lieu of Baton Rouge. (My next novel is set in Baton Rouge, no worries.). My answer, at the time, was, “Are you kidding me?”
The fact is, I’m in love with my home state. I think most people like where they live, but I flaunt my love of Louisiana, the same way I tout my love of America. The place I call home is steeped in heritage, culture, art, music, good food, good people, and stereotypes which make us laugh. God chiseled a boot at the bottom of the American pie; a land to love for those who would, and a place to mock for those who wouldn’t.
A dart thrown at a map of our decadent home would, no doubt, land on a magical place. So, why New Orleans?
The story, like the French Quarter, centers around St. Louis Cathedral. I challenge you to find a church as beautiful.
The church is infused history, but beyond that, when one enters you know you’re in a holy place. Perhaps, being raised Catholic has skewed my opinion, but the spirit is alive and well, under the extensive artwork and intricate architecture of the Basilica.
During a pivotal scene Jess and Justin are sitting, by the Riverwalk Fountain. I could think of no better place to find out your boyfriend, is in fact, an angel.
The murals painted on the back of the benches depict the crest of each Spanish province. A few steps away you can feel the breeze blowing off the mighty Mississippi and watch riverboats and tugboats navigate the powerful current.
Jess wanders down Royal Street to pass time and later, Dawson’s apartment is described, as one of the many beautiful buildings with wrought-iron balconies where ferns hang under ceiling fans, all year.
Maybe, that’s Clyde’s brother, he looks a bit young to be the old mule, besides Asher isn’t about.
I could upload pictures for the rest of the afternoon, but the question will come back to why I chose the French Quarter, still. For the price of gas, I can get in my car and drive an hour and twenty minutes, park in a crowded parking lot, and hop the street car or make the trek on foot, and be transported to another world, where all that matters is forgetting who you are, and remembering how to have fun.
Jess and Justin didn’t need to forget who they were, but, perhaps, discover themselves. The answers they found were so magical, not another place on the planet, would do. And so, to New Orleans, I tip my hat.
Monique O’Connor James
Author of “The Keepers” coming in June from www.astraeapress.com.