Showing posts with label Hurricane Katrina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hurricane Katrina. Show all posts

05 June 2020

We Write. We Escape.


We write. We escape. Escape into worlds we create and follow make believe characters through conflicts, love, happiness, sorrow, through the maze of life.

It's harder today in the middle of this pandemic as we try not to catch this damn virus. We worry about loved ones and friends and – everyone. The ravages of this war are hard to witness and this is just the opening phase. I look back at the traumas in my life, the specter of the Vietnam War, the titanic blows nature sent against my city from Hurricane Betsy in 1965 through the worst of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Sudden, maddening destruction. But this virus is a creeping menace, an unrelenting threat, a Lovecraftian nightmare.

I remember the great stress of watching the evening news in the late 60s, as Walter Cronkite gave us the body count of Americans killed in Vietnam. Today we have the media announcing the body counts of virus deaths in our cities, states, country and the world. Then, as well as now, we were let down by out some political leaders while nurses and doctors struggle to save as many as they can. A nightmare revisited.

My cousin Patrick Roche and my father. Vietnam, 1965

And now, we have more rioting in the streets. Cities on fire. We are still paying for America's original sin. Slavery and its long, ugly, horrendous legacy continues. And lest we forget the other original sin – the genocide of the native people of the Americas, which is still going on.

Is this the wages of sin?


I grew up in the neo-confederate south and saw bigotry and oppression first hand but it was never focused against me, so it took a while to see it for what it is. Hard to imaging having that searing spotlight lasered against me day and night. Ben Franklin once said, "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are."

I've been outraged for a long time, have voted in every election and it does some good on occasion, but not enough. Not even close to enough. There is no easy solution but so many do not admit there is a problem.

President Jimmy Carter was right when he said, "America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, human rights invented America." It's been so hard to follow that up.

OK. Enough preaching. This is a writer's blog.

It's been hard to write. But a writer writes. I don't know about you guys, but I've been productive with my fiction during the lockdown. It is the only way to fight the stress, although writing is not relaxing. It focuses me and ends with something positive. I hope all of you stay safe.

That's all for now.
www.oneildenoux.com


06 October 2017

More About Inspirations



by O'Neil De Noux

I started writing in high school and in college, nothing publishable. When I became a road deputy (patrol officer), I took note of what I observed and felt. Notes I'd use to inspire stories. When I became a homicide detective, I knew - this is what I should write about. While my first two novels were not inspired by real cases, the anecdotes in the books were. The small stories and the way the characters talked and thought.

My third novel BLUE ORLEANS is based on a real case we worked. Not only a whodunit, it was a whoisit as it started with a dumped body. Didn't take long to identify the victim as a New Orleans drug dealer, which led to his family and friends, which led to the solution of the case. I jazzed it up in the novel, put in a little sex and violence, created a femme fatale.

   LaStanza Novels 3, 4, 5

My fourth novel CRESCENT CITY KILLS is a telling of another dumped body case, the case of two young New Orleans women executed on the river batture (land between the levee and the water's edge, in this case the Mississippi River). In real life, the murders occurred in Jefferson Parish. In my book, I moved them back to New Orleans were my recurring character NOPD Homicide Detective Dino LaStanza could work it. Condensing the 13-month investigation wasn't hard but pacing the novel was difficult.

Those books also had strong ancillary plots - LaStanza's personal life. But I was fortunate to have a framework. Real cases.

The inspiration of my fifth novel, THE BIG SHOW, came from a phone call from Harlan Ellison who said he had an idea for LaStanza. He gave me flashes of an opening scene and suggested I run with it. I did. All he asked was for me to put an acknowledgement: Thanks Uncle Harlan. Which I did. I made up the rest of the story. Inspiration from a phone call.


The third novel in my Lucien Caye Private Eye series - HOLD ME, BABE (which was a finalist for this year's SHAMUS Award for BEST ORIGINAL PAPERBACK PRIVATE EYE NOVEL) - was inspired by a conversation with my literary agent Joe Hartlaub (who is also an agent for musicians). He relayed an emotional story about a lost song. I got caught up in the emotion and was inspired.



Hurricanes are inspiring. Look at the flood of Hurricane Katrina-inspired books. I waited eight years before penning CITY OF SECRETS, a story triggered by the haunting poem "Eternal Return" by James Sallis. Sometimes you just have to let an idea ferment.

We writers get inspiration from a lot of sources. The night my wife walked into my home office with a catalog (either a Victoria's Secret or Frederick's of Hollywood catalog) and showed me a new product - the kissable cleavage bra. I made note of what she said, then wrote a story "Kissable Cleavage" that's been published three times. Sorry, don't have a picture of the brassiere to share.

Sometimes it's the little things, sometimes the big ones. Whatever causes emotion in a writer can cause emotion in a reader if well written.

That's all for now.

www.oneildenoux.com