Blood in Southern Waters (Capclave 2013: why set vampire stories in the South?)

I don’t usually write vampire stores, but I set my urban fantasy stories in the South — New Orleans (NOLA) specifically, for several reasons — so I can see why it would be a top choice for setting a vampire story (except of course for Mr. King, who sets everything in New England).

• NOLA is a 24-hour city–it’s not unusual for folk to be wandering the streets at all hours.
• Costumes are common–not just during Mardi Gras–so strangely dressed folks won’t get a second look from locals.
• Most of the tourists are drunk–making them easy targets
• Lots of spooky locations: the Quarter, old plantation houses, swamps
• There is a history of belief in the supernatural–voodoo, zombies, witches
• Many readers are familiar with the location–I’ve been there several times myself.

To me, Louisiana is the ultimate setting for horror–especially vampires. It has such dramatic contrasts, from fancy hotels to seedy bars. There is great music, even in the alleys; and distinctive food in five star restaurants and tiny stands. Where else can you find voodoo shops on every corner, and window displays that put sex toys next to statues of the Virgin Mary? The opening montage of True Blood captures so much of the culture–showing how easy it is to find a creepy factor in some Southern traditions.

Many best-selling vampire novels are set in NOLA. Anne Rice took vampires out of the coffin to be interviewed. Charlaine Harris took them mainstream and made them fun (and sexy). Laurell K. Hamilton made them sexy (and kinky).


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