Traci Andrighetti Takes Over Cozy Up With Kathy
PROSECCO PINK, the second novel in the Franki Amato mysteries, was inspired by my third visit to Oak Alley Plantation, a stunning, oak tree–lined antebellum sugar cane plantation built in 1839. Of course, I couldn’t use the real place for my setting, so I came up with my own plantation called Oleander Place and altered or borrowed intact some historical artifacts from Oak Alley. Below are a few of my favorite items from the plantation along with clues about how I incorporate them into my mystery.
THE LAVENDER ROOM
The lavender room belonged to Oak Alley’s last owner, Josephine Stewart. Its lavender décor, the antique furniture, and the persistent sightings of Josephine’s ghost make it spectacularly creepy. The minute I stepped into this room, I began to envision my “pink room”—and the beautiful blonde cosmetics CEO who would die there—all while sipping a mint julep. Evil, I know.
This spiny fruit is, ironically, a time-honored symbol of Southern hospitality. Guests who stayed at Oak Alley were treated to sliced pineapple for breakfast the morning after their arrival. But those who overstayed their welcome awakened to find a whole pineapple at the foot of their beds. Kind of threatening, isn’t it? Well, that’s what Franki Amato thought, too.
THE COURTER’S CANDLE
Suitors who came to call on the plantation owner’s daughters were monitored not only by a chaperone, but also by a courter’s candle. This candle was placed inside a metal spiral. When the candle burned down to the top of the spiral, it was time for the suitor to leave. If he was a desirable match, the candle was set high so that it would take longer to burn down to the metal. But if he wasn’t, then it was set low so that his time would be up—and quickly. Talk about a way to scare someone off!
THE ROLLING PIN
Mattresses at Oak Alley were stuffed with Spanish moss, so they became lumpy after use. Each day the house slaves had to use giant rolling pins to roll the mattresses to make them smooth again. The perfect weapon to hit someone with.
THE SUGAR KETTLES
In the 18th and 19th centuries, four sugar kettles were used in the production of refined sugar (in order of decreasing size): the grande, the flambeau, the sirop, and the batterie. As the sugar cane juice boiled down, slaves transferred it to the smaller kettles in stages. This was extremely dangerous work because it involved fire and boiling liquid. And because the larger kettles were big enough to hold a body.
Curious? I hope so! I had a blast writing PROSECCO PINK, so I think you’ll have fun reading it. As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler!