Why New Orleans?

L. Marie Adeline, author of S.E.C.R.E.T., on

“Why New Orleans?”

as the setting for the book

I am often asked, “Why New Orleans, why set S.E.C.R.E.T. there?” Practically speaking, from a novelist’s perspective, New Orleans has always been synonymous with sex and seduction; food and music; and the vicissitudes of life, death, and love— Even people who’ve never been there know it as a city of outsized appetites, from its decadent, debauched French Quarter, to its famed Mardi Gras parades and jazz festivals, to the verdant Garden District mansions with their ornate wrought-iron fences, surrounding sun-bleached Italianate and Greek-revival facades.

I’d visited New Orleans a few times, having been lucky enough to date a guy from Louisiana with family in the city. He took me to places where the locals hang out, where people who live there eat, drink, and play. He made sure I tried the beignets and coffee at Café du Monde, damn the line.We strolled through the French Quarterduring the daywhen the whole neighborhood seemed hungover and moved a little slower. One thing I remembered the most was how walkable the city was. As a writer, you need to move characters to and from places, and I love for mine to walk. They can ruminate better. That allows fictional time to move at a more organic pace. A lot of American cities are built to accommodate a car. New Orleans has those wide sidewalks and broad boulevards, some still scarred with ancient streetcar tracks. You get the sense that no one’s in that much of a hurry, making it a lovely place in which to spend real and fictional time.

But here’s the funny thing: It’s really only people who haven’t read S.E.C.R.E.T. that ask, “Why New Orleans?” Those who’ve read it know exactly why there is no other city in North America that could really contain a S.E.C.R.E.T.

I know New Orleans is not all jazz, parades, and parties. Racial tension, crime, poverty, natural disaster, corruption—these are part of the city’s history and makeup as well, and I’m wholly unqualified to comment on any of it, let alone write at depth on these issues. Except to say that I root for the place. I root for its health and welfare, its ongoing recovery, almost the way I would for a person I love. So I hope readers see some of their New Orleans in this book, the real and the fictional. Mostly I hope it brings a little joy, maybe a little sexiness and intrigue, to this amazing city and its generous inhabitants.

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