Thursday, June 6, 2013

Traveling with Books - New Orleans, LA

When I was in Middle School I was introduced to Anne Rice. Not literally, unfortunately, but at a friends house she chose to put in Interview with the Vampire for us to watch during a rainy Saturday afternoon. I fell in love instantly and when I discovered that the movie was actually based on a book series I rushed to my school library (which was a Middle School and High School library) and took out the first book by the same name. I read the book that very day. I remember laying on my couch sort of upside down; flat on my back with my legs kicked up over the top of the couch I recall my mother coming into the living room and turning on a light as it grew dark because I was "going to go blind" from reading in the dimness. "Take a break and watch some TV" she told me but I sat on that couch until bedtime and then laid amongst my sheets until I finished the book a few hours later. 

This started a great love affair with The Vampire Chronicles series and I've raved about these books numerous times on this blog. I promise you, this post isn't entirely about the series. It's about how powerful a love for books can be and where books can literally take you.

In High School I often discussed with friends that I wanted to visit New Orleans. This continued through college and even after graduation. I developed great friends thanks to this book series. A group of us, all around the same age, found each other through journaling communities when we were in High School because of our love of the series and well after college graduation I still talked to this group of friends. There was one thing we always desired: to go to New Orleans. The very location of the books that brought us together. 

When a friend of this group approached me and suggested we stop talking about going to New Orleans and actually do it I jumped at the chance. By February, the tickets were purchased and the room was booked. We were doing it. We were going to New Orleans.

But how do you prepare for a trip you've talked about for half of your life? How do you prepare to visit a place that has such substance in books that you grew up reading and rereading? 

I made a game of it, so to speak, and had a theme for the month of May. Spooky movies with magic and mystery (which seems to be the norm for New Orleans) and, of course, the books that originally drew my interest to the city. 

The internet, of course, is a wonderful tool and it was a great help with planning my trip. Seeing that I was going to New Orleans with the goal of being near as many Anne Rice related locations and there (shockingly) isn't a tour for such excitement I had to depend on the good old google. My friend made a layout of all that we had planned while I compiled a list of locations to visit which had significance to Anne Rice. By the end of May we were off to New Orleans.

Another thing I enjoy about traveling and books is that every location has its own stories and if you linger in enough tourist shops you'll find them. New Orleans is rich in culture and history, much of it being supernatural, so of course there are plenty of books pertaining to the topic. I picked up a book on ghost hunting within the city, not because I wanted to hunt ghosts, but because I wanted the stories and history that the locals knew and shared.

Once there, we had nothing but time (okay, not really, we ran out of time to do all we wanted!) but we were able to see the locations we had wanted. 

We were in New Orleans for a week and saw so many beautiful sights. Some of my favorites, of course, were tied to The Vampire Chronicles but there were other literary influenced places. Such as William Faulkner's house near Jackson Square (which I unfortunately don't have a picture of). 

So what if there wasn't an actual tour for Anne Rice and her books? My friend and I made one for ourselves and we think it went pretty well. With the assistance of tourism books and the help of the internet we certainly were able to see a lot and learn much.

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