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If I Could Turn Back Time

Few authors know where to expect inspiration, but that’s only part of the excitement of our profession. So is venturing into unknown territory. Despite being a fan of George Orwell’s The Time Machine, Jack Finney’s Time and Again and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, I never considered writing time travel because the market was lopsided with poorly written, badly plotted stories about some woman getting hit on the head and waking up to discover she’s Cleopatra. Such books had, to quote Dorothy Parker, all “the depth and glitter of a worn dime.” My reluctance changed some years ago when I lived in the French Quarter, and did something as innocuous as going onto my gallery one warm winter evening to enjoy a glass of wine. I wasn’t there long when fog began...

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Apocalypse Now? Maybe not.

HBO’s darkly amazing new series, True Detective, co-stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and south Louisiana. I use that particular billing because the surreal landscape is such a strong character it’s difficult to imagine its denizens being anywhere else. The third episode had the guys driving through an embattled terrain more wet than dry, and talking about how the land there is fast disappearing.  Having lived in New Orleans, I knew this was no plot gimmick. Thanks to logging, drilling, oil spills, dredging and other man-made nightmares, the Gulf of Mexico gobbles up a football field of Louisiana wetland every hour. Every hour! No, that’s not a typo. When the French arrived in 1699, appropriately enough on Mardi Gras day, they christened the new colony...

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Creole Defined: Not An Exact Science

It’s unexpected fun when a book title raises questions, i. e., Creole Son, my novel about painter Edgar Degas’s time in New Orleans. When people ask me to define Creole, I say it’s probably not what they think but lots more besides. Few ethnic terms are more misunderstood. The word comes from the Portuguese/Spanish criar meaning “to breed” and was applied to those born and bred outside the mother country. They were called criollos, which morphed into Creoles. The two most famous Creoles are probably Empress Josephine, born on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, and Simon Bolivar, a Spanish Creole born in Venezuela. Degas’s New Orleans-born mother Celestine made him half Creole. Creoles can also be of Portuguese, Italian...

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