Monday’s Friend: Mary Ann Loesch

Today I am pleased to welcome Mary Ann Loesch to my blog to talk about an intriguing subject – voodoo.

Marie Laveau: The Real Life Voodoo Priestess of Bayou Myth
By Mary Ann Loesch

The first time I read about Marie Laveau, the legendary voodoo priestess, I was nine or ten.

I’d found this old book in my dad’s office. It was a souvenir he’d picked up in a gift shop on our recent trip through Louisiana, and the cover fascinated me. This big snake was wrapped around a really fierce looking woman in a red kerchief. I had a fear of snakes and couldn’t understand why anyone would willingly allow themselves to have one hanging on their body.

The book was simply called Marie Laveau and it was all about this woman who was able to weave spells and make magical charms. There were crazy stories taking place deep in the Louisiana bayou where Marie danced around half naked with men and women to the beat of drums. People would come to her for love potions, gris gris bags, or because they wanted to curse their enemies.

And then there was the snake!

According to this book, she could talk to it and make it do her bidding. It never did say exactly what she had the snake do, but as a kid, I imagined she would send it to people she didn’t like and have it squeeze them to death while they slept. The snake even had a properly creepy name–Zombi.

I was hooked.

However, voodoo in our Episcopalian household was not a topic of deep discussion. So it would be years before I really had the chance to sit down and sort fact from fiction when it came to the infamous, Marie Laveau.

In researching voodoo for my young adult novel, Bayou Myth, it was impossible to ignore the influence that Marie had on the religion in New Orleans. Because of her and the methods she used, voodoo is still a subject that fascinates people today. The hard part about researching her is that it’s tough to separate fact from fiction.

Was there a real Marie Laveau? Yes. In fact, there were probably two women who went by that name–a mother and a daughter. When the mother became too old to keep up with the thriving practice of believers she’d created, it is believed that the daughter took over. This explains why lots of stories indicate that she never seemed to age.

Pretty clever trick, if you ask me!

The first Marie (and maybe even the second one) worked as a hair dresser for rich ladies which gave her access to a lot of gossip. With her clever mind, it wouldn’t be too difficult to create potions or charms that she could then give to the society women to ease their troubles. After all, it wasn’t just the African American population that flocked to her–the white population was equally fascinated and afraid of her supposed powers.

Marie also had around eleven children. Eleven! When I read that, it made me think: what happened to those children? Did they grow up and start families? Did anyone in that part of the family tree also display a talent for voodoo?

And that’s how my heroine in Bayou Myth was born.

Joan Renault is a teenage voodoo queen in the making, a descendent of Marie Laveau. Obviously, this is a fictional tale, but wherever possible I did try to blend in elements of the real Marie. In the end, I hope I’ve created a fictional character that is as interesting as I believe the real Marie Laveau to have been.

Voodoo is another strong element in the tale, but it should be noted that even though Marie Laveau is probably the most famous voodoo priestess associated with it, she is not the founder of the religion. It actually existed in Haiti long before it ever became practiced in the United States. It is a religion that is a blend of Haitian and Catholic beliefs and is still led by many voodoo priestesses today.

Have I caught your interest? I hope so! Here is the synopsis of Bayou Myth:

As a sixteen year old voodoo queen in the making, Joan Renault just wants to be like all the other girls in the small town of Monte Parish, Louisiana—obsessed with boys and swamped with social lives. If the other kids would quit calling her “hoodoo hag,” she might have a small shot at normality. It would also help if Joan’s weekend outings with her secret crush, Dave, weren’t always being interrupted by her dead Grandmere, the legendary Marie Laveau. After all, it’s hard to make out with your best friend when your grandmother is watching! But when you come from a long line of voodoo priestesses with dried gator heads decorating the wall of their huts, normal doesn’t come easily.

When Joan witnesses the brutal sacrifice of a child to a tree Druid, she learns her Grandmere’s scandalous past has come back to haunt those living in the present. Hera, a vengeful voodoo priestess, is determined to use the residual energy of Pandora’s Box to revive a sleeping voodoo god and declare war on the descendants of Marie Laveau, especially Joan. Suddenly, Greek myths are being re-enacted all over town, and Joan has her hands full trying to sort it all out. With the approach of Samedi’s Day—the voodoo day of resurrection—Joan must learn to accept her destiny in order to stop the approaching threat to her family and friends.

Mary Ann Loesch is an award winning fiction writer from Texas. Her urban fantasy, Nephilim, was published in July 2011 by Lyrical Press Inc. An avid blogger for All Things Writing and Loesch’s Muse, Mary Ann has also contributed stories in the horror anthology, ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY. Her latest book, BAYOU MYTH, was released in June 2012. While she loves dirty martinis and cuddling with her dachshund, she loves fan mail even more! Contact her through her website at www.maryannloesch.com.

Buy BAYOU MYTH from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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2 comments so far

  1. Mary Ann Loesch on

    Thanks for having me today!

  2. yhosby on

    Sounds interesting! I’ll check your book out! Good luck with all your publishing and marketing success.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta


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