Travel Writer Finds Lessons in Witching Hour

Book Cover

Destination: Anywhere

Book: The Witching Hour (1993) by Anne Rice

A GUEST POST BY Susan Lanier-Graham

Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour helped me discover those elusive travel moments

I have always loved to travel and I don’t remember a book that specifically planted that desire. But I do know the book that made me see the beauty of weaving a story about a place to make it come alive. Not a traditional travel book, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches)
made me realize that words can create a unique sense of place that help readers see, feel, smell, be in a far-away place.

Anne Rice´s house in New Orleans
Anne Rice's Garden District home

My love affair with The Witching Hour actually started with my husband. He had read the book and was obsessed with finding the mansion on First and Chestnut Streets in New Orleans’ Garden District (also Anne’s private residence). On a trip to New Orleans, we found the house. I watched the emotion on his face and knew I had to read the book. I did when we returned home. I realized then the power of Anne Rice’s words as she brought the house from the story to life. All of the components were there in her book – the grand oak in the yard, the screened porch overlooking a Southern garden, the vines growing on the garden walls, the columns on the front porch.  Even a month after visiting, I was back on that sidewalk, outside those wrought-iron gates, gazing at the stately mansion.

I’ve never experienced places the same way since reading The Witching Hour.  Now, I think about how I could bring the place to life for others. I examine the small details that make the locale real, even if it’s half a world away. I want my words to transport readers to places they’ve never seen. But the book also affects me as a traveler. Now I search out places to find that special something wherever I travel. That sense of wonder of the place, the magic, the thing that makes it feel unique, but at the same time gives me a connection to it that lets me believe I belonged there all along.

One of the characters in The Witching Hour thinks about that magic as he’s standing inside the house. “…had any wandering observer ever loved it more? And in a way he had always lived in it, it was the place he had longed for when he went away, the place he had dreamed of…”

After all, isn’t it that elusive something we all look for when we explore the world?

Susan Lanier Graham

Susan Lanier-Graham has been a freelance journalist for more than 20 years. While her articles usually specialize in luxury travel and fine dining, she realizes that wonders are everywhere. Sharing those wonders — whether they be around the world or across the street — is what she enjoys most. The treasures we each find in our travels are the things that make us stop and say “Wow” and sigh in wonder. That’s what makes traveling such a thrill. Her own blog, Wander With Wonder is all about exploring those “Wow” moments.

Susan’s blog is one of my must reads, and so I was very happy when she accepted an invitation to write a guest blog for us. How interesting to peek behind the curtain and see what gives inspiration to a talented travel writer.Thanks, Susan.

Readers: Have you read a book that affected you like this–maybe not inspiring travel to a specific place, but showing you how a writer can effectively recreate an experience? And remember, you have until September 30 to leave a comment and enter the Italy Giveaway.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

4 thoughts on “Travel Writer Finds Lessons in Witching Hour

  1. Anne Rice’s vampire books depicted New Orleans in a special magical way and sometimes her scene description of imaginary places were so real on a human soul/emotional kind of level, I wanted to make everyone read science fiction/fantasy. The best of it explores so many questions about our humanity.
    I love the image and that the emotion in the book followed the reader when he found the actual home of the author.

  2. Oddly enough Faulkner brought the south alive for me like that with dialect and detail. I felt as if I can see everything in front of me the way he describes the surroundings.

  3. Hee. I am not a big fan of Rice’s proise…but I have always been impressed by other people’s connection with it. Thanks for sharing about The Witching Hour! -r

Comments are closed.