I’m a self-taught writer. Nobody trained me, I never took a professional class and I didn’t even go to school for it. Here I am, 36, and being compared to Anne Rice all these years later. Just wow. Do you know how humbling that is?
My boyfriend and I co-wrote our first book together back in 2011, the year
IMAGES OF AMERICA: GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP (now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble) was published by Arcadia Publishing. It took approximately two years to conduct research and submit a manuscript, then we spent another two years after the publication date on a press tour.
We didn’t write the historical nonfiction coffee table book to make our first million – hell no – not in today’s economy – but rather to learn about a lost city and deeply connect with a community. And that’s exactly what happened, and it was oh-so-rewarding. Still is to this day, to be honest.
And with that said, that’s originally what led me starting on my trek to historical preservation and educating myself on local folklore…namely in America’s south.
Ah, the southland. I tell readers and fans that my inspiration for VOUDOU JUICE began when I was basking on the shores of Myrtle Beach back in 2012, and I just so happened to be drinking a mixed cocktail of the same name when the characters started talking to me.
Yes, that happens to writers once in awhile, and when inspiration beckons, you ride that wave for as long as you can and get a few good pages of prose down on paper.
So, the book I was writing was a summer project and I broke out the handwritten manuscript once every few weeks or when the mood felt right. It wasn’t often, trust me. Not until I went to New Orleans in 2014 with my best friend.
One visit to Oz – one of the best nightclubs off Bourbon Street – and the story I thought I wanted to tell took on an evolved life of itself. New characters were born out of a drunken stupor, as Go-Go Boys in skimpy outfits pranced around my being and the hardcore thumpa pulsed through my chest.
I went home three-and-a-half days later, and wrote my ass off. I prayed the experiences I lived in the Crescent City wouldn’t soon be forgotten, so I could weave them into my book. The pen was on fire and my inspiration carried me through.
2017, April 13th to be exact, was when VOUDOU JUICE was officially released to the general public. The amount of pride I felt, like a father who’s partner had just given birth to a healthy baby, was beyond compare.
Furthermore, sure I was happy and proud of myself, but I had fallen into a slight depression. I was hurt and sad that my characters were no longer mine, that I’d no longer have deep conversations with these beings I created out of nothingness.
Another trip to New Orleans was in order. ASAP. Let’s go, drink and be merry. So, with my best friend who’d showed me around the city in 2014, off I went, back to my beloved Big Easy.
The trip would be longer than a week this time around, and there was more anticipated intrigue around every corner.
After my book signing at the Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter, I’d gone out to celebrate…for several hours. Around 6pm CST, a lovely young man picked us up via Uber.
He was a doll, spewing off local ghost stories he’d heard over the years, and making us laugh. Then he suddenly began telling us about the Old French Opera House…the location of the now-Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter. Say what?
“So, you had a book signing?” the gentleman asked. Excited and still riding the high of the event, I was only too happy to discuss it. “Yes,” I replied…nervous. The Uber driver then explained that a fire had broken out at the Opera House in 1919, after a rehearsal of “Carmen.” On December 4th, the Creole mecca had been burned to the ground. And where did the fire start, you ask? Right at the exact location I had my book signing, by the concierge station.
Little did I know how frighteningly haunted that place was, and how lucky I’d been to host my book signing in that location, caked in dark history.
My best friend turned to me in disbelief as my unhinged jaw returned to my top lip. She smacked me with delight and said, very slowly, “That’s it, babe. That’s the story you came here to get. You have to write that in your new book.”
And write I will. That cab ride back from Magazine Street will forever haunt me in the most beautiful way. And I will weave that ghost story into VOUDOU JUICE: ORIGINS…a followup to my breakout novella.
I’m looking at a 2020 launch date, as it’s naturally set in 1920s New Orleans. My heart never will quite be the same after visiting that crazy little city, and I’m sure it will flutter in different ways after my next visit, too.
VOUDOU JUICE is on sale for $18.00. You may purchase a copy by calling (973) 289-3517; online ordering options available soon. Head to JosephAFederico.com for further details.