Monday, October 28, 2013

New Orleans ghosts redux

            It’s been said that New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in America, with tales of the supernatural dating back centuries. Native Jeanne deLavigne proved as much in her 1944 collection, “Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans.”
            This fall, LSU Press reprinted the assemblage of 40 ghost stories, some of them drawing on 18th and 19th century legends, complemented by the macabre etchings of New Orleans artist Charles Richards. Stories include the spurned lover who perished naked on a French Quarter rooftop, the famous Lalaurie Mansion ghosts of slaves (this season’s “American Horror Story” on FX uses them in its storyline) and my favorite, the ghost of the Carrollton Jail. Folklorist and LSU professor emeritus of English Frank de Caro writes the book’s foreword and reports new information about deLavigne’s life, who also collaborated with Jacques Rutherford on the novels “And the Garden Waited” and “Fox Fire.”

Louisiana Book Festival
            The 10th annual Louisiana Book Festival takes over the State Capitol and grounds, the Louisiana State Library, State Museum and Welcome Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Baton Rouge. There will be author presentations, lectures, live musical performances, storytelling, booksignings, children’s activities and much more. In addition, there will be Wordshops for aspiring writers on Friday at the State Library.
            Special events include:
            The inaugural Louisiana exhibition of The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition will be on display on the first floor of the State Library during the Louisiana Book Festival. The Heritage Edition is a full-size fine art edition of the original Bible — the first handwritten illuminated Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the advent of the printing press.
            The Louisiana Book Festival’s community reading program, One Book, One Festival, is featuring “The House on Coliseum Street” by New Orleans author Shirley Ann Grau. This annual event encourages all festivalgoers to read the same book and participate in a discussion, this year by Southern literature scholar Gary Richards, who chairs the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication at the University of Mary Washington. In a separate festival event, Grau will be interviewed by author and blogger Wendy Rodrigue, exploring her early novels.
            For more information, visit

Bridge to Publication
            The Bayou Writers Group, Inc.’s annual conference, A Bridge to Publication, will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the University United Methodist Church (Safe Harbor Center), 3501 Patrick St. in Lake Charles. Speakers include filmmakers Glen Pitre and Michelle Benoit on “The ABCs of Screenwriting: Action, Believable Plots, and Characters;” Amanda T. Graves, “Getting yourself out there! Collaborating with School Librarians for Authors;” and DiAnn Mills, “Self-Editing for the Professional Writer” & “Creating Powerful Emotion.” Several agents and an editor will accept pitches from writers as well. For more information, visit

            November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where writers are challenged to pen 55,000 words in one month and release the inner critique that often keeps us from writing. To assist novel writers, Dupré Library will host three events: “Write-ins” from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Nov. 15 at the Ernest J. Gaines Center (where writers can work on their novels with power outlets available for laptops) and a “Thank Goodness It’s Over Party” from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Dupré Library staff lounge. For more information, contact librarian Allison Gallaspy at 482-6033 or

Book events
            I will tell Lafayette's ghost stories from my book “Haunted Lafayette” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Carpe Diem Gelato & Espresso Bar in downtown Lafayette, as part of the Voices in Fall literary series. I will also be discussing ghostly tales at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Louisiana Book Festival.
            Louisiana Cultural Vistas columnist and Tulane University professor Richard Campanella presents Arrivals, a three-part series examining previous population influxes in New Orleans. This week’s event looks at post-Civil and early 20th century New Orleans at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, with panelists Campanella and Keith Weldon Medley. LEH President/Executive Director Dr. Michael Sartisky moderates. The series is free and open to the public.
            Terri Hoover Dunham signs “The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story” from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at The Quilt Corner, 13579 Hooper Road in Greenwell Springs. 

Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at