Amazon bestselling author Elaine Calloway grew up in New Orleans with a love of cemeteries, Gothic architecture, and all things paranormal. She is currently writing The Southern Ghosts. Learn more about Elaine and her books at her website.
Writers, Ideas, & Cultural Backgrounds
Whenever I’m at a party or event and someone finds out I’m a writer of paranormal/romantic suspense, the inevitable question follows: Where do you get your ideas?
It’s hard to give a satisfactory answer to this question, though I often say that the ideas are the easy part. Formulating an idea into a workable, 300-page book is the challenge.
For me, ideas are like snowflakes that drift into our minds and eventually come together to make a snowman (or some lumpy shape we can then build into a snowman). As I relax on a Friday night and watch The History Channel, the show might mention there’s a remote island in the South Pacific that has the highest percentage of twins being born there than anywhere else in the world. That nugget is intriguing, and makes me wonder what would cause a higher ratio of twins to be born in a specific place. A few days later, another nugget will cross my mind, and those things start to congeal into what (hopefully!) will make a good story.
Using the culture I grew up in also helps, at least for me. I grew up in New Orleans, land of the paranormal and cemeteries on every corner. Instead of birthday parties at a swimming pool, we had birthday parties on a Mardi Gras float or on the streetcar that rode down Canal Street. Having those experiences helped add some depth to my latest Southern Ghosts Series book, Krewe of Souls. (Tagline description: Mardi Gras, Mayhem, and Murder.)
I’ve always loved ghost stories, and I was probably the biggest fan of Scooby-Doo as a kid. The mystery element, the spooky element, along with the humor, was the ideal way to spend time after school. That’s what I strive to bring to my Southern Ghosts Series, which feature live humans who can see/talk to ghosts and have to solve a mystery or the ghosts will never leave them alone.
Since it is Mardi Gras Season (and Krewe of Souls is on sale through February!) here are some tidbits that you may not know about Mardi Gras:
~ King Cake is eaten throughout the 4-6 week carnival season leading up to Fat Tuesday, which is Mardi Gras Day. My description of King Cake is that it tastes like the offspring of French bread and donuts. There is a plastic baby put inside one of the cake pieces, and whoever gets the baby is said to have good luck year-round. Also, whoever gets the piece with the baby has to bring the cake to the next King Cake party. There were weekly King Cake parties held in elementary school.
~ A “Krewe” is an organization that puts on a parade and/or fancy ball for the Mardi Gras celebration. There are dues to join, and members pay for their own trinkets/beads which they toss to the crowd from the floats.
~ Masks are required for anyone riding on a float on Mardi Gras Day! This is one of those old-time laws still on the books. The original intent was to get rid of social inhibitions but now the theme has stuck and everyone dresses up for the event.
Krewe of Souls is 99 cents through Fat Tuesday this year, so grab your copy today!
Krewe of Souls, Southern Ghosts Series Book 3
Tristan Pleasance is a ghost whisperer extraordinaire, but talking to his living father is another story. Family conflict prompts Tristan to bolt from his lifelong home in St. Francisville, Louisiana, to make a new life in New Orleans. But six months later, a family tragedy forces him to return home, and he is thrust into a murder investigation where his past and future will collide.
Grace Lansing is a New Orleans columnist who yearns to write feature articles rather than puff pieces. To prove herself to her editor, she travels to the quaint town of St. Francisville to research its big Mardi Gras krewe competition. But what seems an innocent cultural practice quickly turns into a web of intrigue—and getting too close to the handsome Tristan puts her in danger of becoming collateral damage.
Together, Tristan and Grace must find out who is responsible for the murders—before the Krewe of Souls takes more lives.