|Australian author |
Last month I reviewed Southern Ruby by accomplished Australian author Belinda Alexandra. Today she joins me on the blog to talk about New Orleans and all things books! Welcome Belinda.
Why did you choose New Orleans for the setting of Southern Ruby? You really made it come alive on the page, what do you like about this location?
Thank you! I think New Orleans is one of the most inspiring places to write about. The history and culture – with its French, Spanish, Caribbean, African and Native American influences – is so rich. It is unlike the other more conservative Southern cities. I also am very attracted to the inhabitants’ sense of joie de vivre and fascinated by how superstitious they are – everything from mixing voodoo in with their staunch Catholicism to their unwavering belief in ghosts (New Orleans is meant to be America’s most haunted city).
I read that you 'research your books almost like an actress preparing to play a part.' What research did you undertake to write Southern Ruby?
As well as all the research reading, I listened to the music of the city (in the case of Southern Ruby this was a lot of early jazz), read the books that people were reading in the period I was writing about, the newspapers of the time, tested out the foods and talked to the people who had lived through Hurricane Katrina. I made a research trip to New Orleans with my husband, Mauro, and we stayed in an original Queen Anne period home in the Garden District, which is the style of home the Lalande family have in Southern Ruby.
You've had at least 7 books published so far (congratulations)! What kinds of stories are you drawn to?
Thank you! I love what might be termed ‘coming of age’ novels. I love stories about people who make a journey in life and how that journey and the people they meet on it change them. I think my Russian heritage also draws me to epic stories where life is revealed in all its glory – both the laughter and the tears. My stories can be an emotional roller coaster ride, but I like to leave my readers feeling truly satisfied.
What was the last truly great book that you read?
It wasn’t a novel but a very simple book titled The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. Bronnie used to be a palliative care nurse, and in the book she conveys the top five regrets the terminally ill patients who she cared for wanted to convey to those of us who are healthy and still living. My heart was in my throat so often that I could only read a small section at a time. Those reaching the end of their lives are often our greatest teachers in how to truly live.
What classic book have you started but never manage to finish?
Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
Me too, I don't think I even got to the half way mark (blushing).
Do you have any literary influences or favourite authors? (Have you read any Anne Rice novels?)
Charles Dickens was a huge influence on me. He is the king of the coming of age story and he created his characters with such love, even the wicked ones. When I was in New Orleans, I did make a point of going to visit Anne Rice’s old home in the Garden District where she wrote the Mayfair Witches. I didn’t read her novels while writing Southern Ruby because I wanted to interpret New Orleans my own way, but now the book is done I think I’m going to start with The Feast of All Saints.
I really hope you like her work, Anne Rice is one of my favourite authors and she writes about New Orleans so well.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished The Dry by Jane Harper – a fantastic Australian crime story!
That one's in my TBR pile and I hear it's a great read, so I'm looking forward to it.
What's next? What are you working on at the moment?
I’m busy with my new novel, which is a murder mystery set in New York!
Thanks so much for joining us Belinda, and good luck for your next novel, although something tells me you won't need it. Visit Belinda's website for more information on her books.