Our Project: Blessed Be, a Book on Louisiana, Queer Covens, Witchcraft, and Healing
On Tuesday, I signed with Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron & Associates. The book I used in my query to her was Blessed Be, one of the strangest novels I’ve written yet. The book stemmed from childhood memories of Louisiana, where my mother was born and raised.
So many of my memories from growing up are rooted in the south. As a child, I spent my summer breaks in Mansfield, Louisiana with my maternal grandmother. Her house was typical of that area– flat, skinny, held tight to the ground. It was shaded by lodgepole pines and surrounded by gnarled tree roots that curled and dipped. The soil was red and dusty and hung in the air.
What I remember of the south is being outside: lobbing for crawfish with a piece of bacon, their mudball homes poking out of the ground. I remember the painful sting of fire ants and the white pustules that covered my feet after an attack near my grandmother’s swimming pool. I remember snakes, and the sound of the heat bugs. The cicadas stuck with me so strongly that I wrote a whole book about them, although it’s set in another location.
Louisiana has surfaced in much of my writing. My family is still there, scattered across different cities. I own land at the bottom of the state but have only been there once. The land along the Gulf is magical. I visited it in the winter when it was cold and a dense grey fog sat over the land, refusing to move. The Gulf was freezing and foamed at the shore. While inspecting some land, my mother and I spotted a giant black cat scamper up a tree. It was far too large to be domesticated.
“That there was a Louisiana black panther!” my uncle claimed. His Cajun accent was so thick I could barely make out what he said.
My mother’s eyes widened. “A panther.”
“He’s joking,” I replied.
Louisiana black panthers are a myth, but the experience served as the inciting image for the book I’d write four years later – Blessed Be. The story follows Billie, who returns to her hometown on the Gulf in southern Louisiana. She joins up with some other women who turn out to be a coven, working to take the town back from some bad men.
While I am a pragmatic person (almost to a fault!), I am also deeply spiritual and the spirit in southern Louisiana is undeniable. It is a haunted place, wonderful for exploring the literary ideas of darkness and wonder, fear and becoming. Witchcraft and nature are inherent in these places.
Blessed Be still has a long way to go and many edits to be made. But I am proud of the internal journey the protagonist makes, how she learns to trust – both herself and others – to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma in her family of strong women. I am also excited to have the opportunity to bring Louisiana to the page for the first time in book form.
Thank you, Mary, for seeing the potential in this book and welcoming me at Kimberley Cameron & Associates.