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| First American Edition |
Top Publications (2001)
|First American Edition St Martin's Press (NY) (1997)|
|First American Edition St Ermine's Press (1994)|
|First British Edition Arlington (1987)|
|First British Edition Arlington (1986)|
|About The Author|
(In Her Own Words...)
(As much as I'll admit to!)
My early life in suburban New Jersey was uneventful except for my winning a hula hoop contest in 1957. I took off to see the world In 1966.
As I had only a high school education and no marketable skills, I always had to look for my jobs in the "Miscellaneous" column of the classifieds. I was a lingerie clerk at Altman's in New York while living with a crazy Greek. I sold books door-to-door in Puerto Rico where I was madly in love with the Spaniard who led the group playing at El Convento Hotel, and I dated a cute Chinese guy on the side as well as a slick-bald Swede and some Italians who worked on cruise ships.
(Hey, remember that this was during that all-too-brief period or history when young people could indulge in "free love' without dire consequences: after the invention of "The Pill" and before the onset of AIDS. In the late sixties it wasn't considered dangerous or even vulgar to wake up on a bare mattress in a 2nd Avenue crash pad next to a lead guitarist. We'll never see the like of that era again.) I sorted computer cards in a bank in L.A., and waited tables in Chicago where I dated an eighteen year old go-go boy AND his father who was a very handsome big-band musician.
In 'sixty-eight, almost every form of employment available to a woman there required that she be topless: dancers, waitresses, card dealers, even shoe-shine girls. At that time I didn't want to apply for a job because the proprietor demanded to see me topless first and I didn't want to audition them. I was afraid the guy would just shake his head.
"No, those won't do at all."
So I worked in a "bust-out" joint on Geary Street. That was an illegal after-hours club where we sold cheap gin in coffee cups and got a commission on our b-drinks. When a cop was suspected to be on the premises someone would yell "Vice!* and all the drinks would go on the floor. Or on some sailor's knee.
I landed in New Orleans in the fall of 'sixty-nine and got a job tending bar and b-drinking in a seamen's dive on Canal Street. My first night in town, I spotted a beautiful French-speaking Cajun boy who worked as an unskilled laborer on a pipe-laying barge and spent all his paychecks as soon as he got them. Richard Catoire was six feet tall with coal black hair, high cheekbones, perfect teeth and a Cajun accent thick as gumbo. And he bought me a ten-dollar bottle of champagne on which I got a five-dollar commission. So naturally, I spent the night with him.
[I hereby issue a warning: Never have a one-night-stand with a Capricorn because they stay FOREVER. Twenty-seven years later, that Cajun is STILL HERE and I can't get him to go home!] I had always wanted to be in show business, so I had a couple of gowns made with two-foot stripper zippers, bought some rhinestone G-strings and pasties, put on a platinum wig and "showed my business" all over Bourbon Street for the next two years. But I never would have become a head-liner because I wasn't willing to drive to Houston for the silicone implants.
I flaunted my charms in London where I was offered a job dancing naked in Soho.
I asked the booker, "What do you pay?"
He said, "What you're worth."
"Forget it! I can't live on that!"
And I flew to Paris where I went to the Lido with a businessman from Lyon and avoided weasel-faced Frenchmen who wanted me to buy them dinner. Europe was not for me. Back to New Orleans to live forever.
In the Fall of '72, Richard urged me to try college.
"Go to school; you ain't doin' nuttin'"
So I enrolled in the University of New Orleans as Mrs. Richard Catoire and got my B.A. in Drama in '76.
By that time I had decided to become a professional writer, so I stayed home and wrote full-time, year after year, book after book, for rejection after rejection. I didn't have children. I eschewed any social life. I just wrote without pay.
Meanwhile, Richard had been earning promotions, worked his way up to utility foreman in marine construction, and was making great money as his company flew him around the hemisphere to push crews in French, Spanish and Portuguese.
In 1983 Richard hurt his back on the job, rupturing two disks. His off-shore career was over and he had no experience doing anything else.
I said, "You speak French and Spanish and you like to talk all the time. Why don't you go to college and be a teacher?"
So he did, got into three honor societies including Phi Kappa Phi and studied a year in Europe on scholarship. Now he is happy teaching foreign languages at Chalmette High in St Bernard Parish and spending summers in Spain on his Masters program.
So much for him.
The Glory Hole Murders was the eighth book I wrote and the first to be published. It was set here in New Orleans and introduced the bitchy gay detective, Matt Sinclair, who has since become a cult favorite, translated into German, Japanese, Danish and Czech, and (in the single lucky break of my career) it would be nominated for an Edgar by the MWA.
The Glory Hole Murders came out in October of '85, during the year I worked for the Sate of Louisiana in the welfare office. I used that (awful) experience for my second Matt Sinclair mystery, The Closet Hanging, which came out in '87.
My third Matt Sinclair mystery, Kiss Yourself Goodbye, was published in England, Germany and Denmark, but not in the U.S.. I heard from some agents and publishers that they didn't want to touch a gay detective anymore because of the AIDS epidemic.
My new series features Margo Fortier, a middle-aged uh.. red-haired, former stripper who is now a society columnist and is um.. always looking for a good story and a rich lover.
(I don't know anyone like this. I just have a great imagination.)
The first of the Fortier series, The Hippie In The Wall, came out from St. Martin's in June '94 and the second, 1 (900) D-E-A-D, in January 1997.
When I first started writing about Margo, I sort of envied her because she had a glamorous job on the paper and that takes connections in New Orleans which I don't have. And she is welcome in the drawing rooms of society uptown.
But being the author of hardcover books does provide some cachet. In the past few years I've been invited to places where most people with normal well-paying jobs never go. In '87, I debated the radical Rabbi Meir Kahane on radio and WON. In '88 I stood on the floor of the Republican Convention in the Super Dome when President Reagan gave his farewell speech. In the summer of '89, I was the "Star" of the Semana Negra in Gijon, Spain, led a conga line of 4,300 people along the marina, and had my photo plastered all over the walls of a seamen's bar. (Maybe I haven't come so far from b-drinking on Canal Street after all.)
In '91 I was treated like a celebrity in Germany made a nine-city reading tour which earned me enough deutchsmarks to
by a full-length mink coat. In '92, I played the female lead in the Irish Literary Theatre's production of Brian Friel's "Aristocrats". And in the Fall of '96 I acted and sang in the Jefferson Performing Arts Society production of "Showboat".
I've learned about Mexican politics in Paco Taibo's living room in Mexico City, climbed the Toltec pyramids at Chichen Itaz, travelled through the mountains of Cuba escorted by a man who had fought for Castro up there and had my coconut shells read by a priest of Chango in Havana.
I love to give lectures and speeches and travel whenever I have the chance, but Margo Fortier has to stay in New Orleans. That's not a limitation. Anything that can happen anywhere else can happen here.