Growing up, Eric Wilder always loved visiting New Orleans and listening to stories about this fascinating city. This inspired him to write a dark love story that takes place during Mardi Gras. As our author of the day, Wilder tells us all about his book, City of Spirits, where his hove for New Orleans comes from and why he worked a love triangle into his book.
Please give us a short introduction to what City of Spirits is about.
It’s Mardi Gras in the Big Easy, an escaped killer seeking revenge. P.I. Wyatt Thomas has a new client, a wealthy banker from a prominent family that wants proof he’s not a passeblanc, a person of mixed race attempting to pass as white, a definite no-no for the upper crust of white New Orleans’ society. Wyatt falls hard for one of his client’s twin daughters, their blossoming relationship in jeopardy when he uncovers a forbidden family secret.
What inspired you to write a story that takes place during Mardi Gras?
In perhaps the most exciting and dangerous city in the U.S., no time is more thrilling and perilous in New Orleans than during Mardi Gras. It seemed a perfect backdrop for a story that deals with deception, lust, and murder.
Tell us more about Wyatt Thomas. Who is he and what makes him so special?
Wyatt is a disbarred attorney and recovering alcoholic. Born into wealth and power, he lost everything, including his marriage, because of his alcoholic indulgences. He lives in a one-room apartment on the second floor above a Chartre Street bar owned and run by his friend, Cajun bartender Bertram Picou. He succeeds as a private investigator because he knows New Orleans like few others. His business partner is a Tulane English professor who is also a voodoo mambo. When a potential client has questions about voodoo, a haunting, or the inner workings of the Big Easy, Wyatt is the person to hire.
You worked a love triangle into the book - what do you think is it about love triangles that readers find so fascinating?
Love and sex make the world go around, and the brain is truly the largest sex organ. In City of Spirits, a decades-old love triangle is a catalyst and conflict that drives the story and defines the lives of everyone affected.
The book contains a couple of twists and turns. Did you plan them out before you started writing, or did they just "happen"?
I always have a plan in mind when I begin a story. The result, however, is rarely anything like I’d envisioned when I started. Sometimes I think the stories and characters are all too real to be fictional. My job it seems is to pluck them from the ether and then put them on paper.
You included some very vivid descriptions of New Orleans. How did you pull this off?
I grew up in Louisiana and my favorite aunt, a marine during WWII, was a schoolteacher in New Orleans. She had no children of her own, and my brother and I visited her many times. More than just show us the city, she filled our minds with intriguing tales about the people of New Orleans, and the fascinating history that shaped its culture and politics, making it like no other place in the world. She taught me things about New Orleans that I’ll never forget. My first wife was also from the city, and I’ve lived, worked, and spent lots of time there through the years.
Why is New Orleans such a fascinating place?
To say the least, New Orleans is different. Its diverse population practices many religions, including voodoo. Most of the city is below sea level, and that requires burial in above ground graves. Three nations, France, Spain, and the U.S. have governed the city. Since New Orleans is a seaport, immigrants from many nations now live there, ensuring a unique mixture of laws and culture. Thousands of citizens died during the plague years brought about by yellow fever, malaria, and other tropical diseases. Disease and natural disasters endured by its people ensure that New Orleans is arguably the most haunted and mysterious city on earth.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I am also a geologist and enjoy inserting factual and interesting bits of earth science into my books.
Although it is a mystery, you also worked a lot of fun and humor into this book - why did you find it important to do?
The books I enjoy reading always take me on memorable trips filled with powerful conflict and real and diverse characters. When I write, I try to tell a story that I would enjoy reading.
If you could have a drink with anybody, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you have?
I’d love to have a glass of amontillado with Edgar Allen Poe.
Tell us about your writing habits. Best time of the day to write?
I have horrible writing habits and usually don’t begin until ten or eleven at night. Once I start though, I can really turn out the words because I’m a fast typist, and the story is already in my head. On a good day, I’ll knock out three or four thousand words. My best sessions often come after a long walk.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a new French Quarter mystery titled Sisters of the Mist. It’s not exactly a sequel to City of Spirits but reprises some of the characters. I can’t tell you much without including spoilers, so I’ll just say that I’m having a blast writing it. Hope to have it out in August.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My two series, French Quarter Mystery and Paranormal Cowboy, and all my other books are available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Local bookstores can also order the paperback versions. Interested readers can check out my website at ericwilder.com.