Ooooo Child!

I’m glad my first book didn’t land on the New York Times bestseller list for 216 weeks like John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I wouldn’t know how to answer the question, “What are you doing to do next?”

The answer probably would have been “nothing.” I couldn’t live up to my debut any more than an actor or actress winning an Oscar for their first movie. Well, I guess Marlee Matlin did that in 1987, but that would be too much pressure for me.

Museum Shop » Telfair Museums » Savannah, GAI placed the following quote on Facebook yesterday and nobody knew who said it or where it came from: “Tell me something honey, how come a white boy like you is drivin’ a old, broken-down, jiveass bruthuh’s heap like this?” Okay, even with 216 weeks on the bestseller list, fame is fleeting even if you’re a saucy drag queen named “Chablis”

This comes to mind since I’m re-reading the novel and it’s just as funny as it was 27 years ago. Berendt wrote The City of Falling Angels ten years later. One reviewer said the book was pretty good but didn’t have a compelling core story. See, this is what I’m talking about. His first book was too good.

Okay, but I think I’ve turned out enough novels to say that I wasn’t ruined by the response to my first book,–or my second, &c. So I’ve escaped the curse of a fantastic successful first novel. Now that I’m safe, I’m ready for the big time, and by golly, I’m going to work toward that without a character who walks an invisible dog or a drag queen who often exclaims, “Ooooo child!”


While Malcolm R. Campbell doesn’t include invisible dogs in his novels, he’s okay with a cat as a narrator. After all, his three cats talk all the time.

‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’

In the hoodoo tradition, good magic is best performed between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, and evil magic is best performed between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Hence we have the rationale behind the title of John Berendt’s 1994 bestseller, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and the inspiration behind the 1997 feature film.

When the book came out, I refused to read it. The odd thing now is that I no longer remember why. Perhaps it was the hype. Perhaps it was the mix of fiction and nonfiction. Or perhaps it was because I was always more of a Charleston person than a Savannah person. The film didn’t do well, a surprise since Eastwood generally does fine work. Had it been a success, I might have seen it. But it wasn’t so I didn’t.

Here’s what seems to have happened. Somebody or something has put a hex on me forcing me to read the book. Okay, that’s enough of an incentive. Makes no sense, though, but who am I to question the origins of hexes or even to ask my Tarot cards about which side of midnight the hex was cast. So, the book is now on order.

If lightning strikes one of the two ancient trees in the front yard on the day the book arrives, I’ll destroy the book.

The same if crows or raven gather in nearby pine trees and raise one hell of a ruckus.

If you read the book and suddenly went over to the dark side, please warn me.

Since this may be a bumpy ride, I’ll need a volunteer to hold my beer.


Maybe after writing four hoodoo novels, I can safely read the book I have a notebook filled with spells including protection spells.