I was so intrigued with Cari Lynn’s latest novel, Madam, that I spent hours researching the infamous New Orleans Madam, Josie Arlington. Afterwards I just had to ask Cari about her story and what motivated her to seek out this fascinating piece of American history.
JDJ – What prompted you to write about Josie Arlington?
CL – I found Josie’s story when I was visiting New Orleans about 10 years ago with my then-boyfriend. He wandered into one of those tacky Voodoo, tourist shops and I reluctantly followed. There, I found a little book about haunted New Orleans, and the opening story was about Madam Josie Arlington and her haunted tomb. I didn’t care about the haunted tomb part, instead I was so intrigued about Storyville and Josie’s rise from a lowly prostitute to an infamous madam. I’m a journalist and typically write nonfiction, so my inclination was to research Josie and write a nonfiction book about her. But records had been destroyed and I couldn’t track any of her ancestors, so after a year, I decided I’d have to fictionalize the story. I brought the story to actress Kellie Martin and we wrote a script together, but Hollywood is a tough town, so eventually I turned that into a novel.
JDJ – Your book was so intriguing that I just had to search on her. I discovered that Josie had a terrible temper and was difficult to get along with. What prompted you to take the story in another direction?
CL – Yes, the real Josie reportedly could be very crude. That was something I struggled with because I like to stick as close to the truth as possible, but at the same time, she’s the protagonist and we want to like her and understand her trials and her choices. As a writer, you’re always making choices about what to include and what to omit. This won’t be the last we hear from Josie, I’m sure!
JDJ – What do you actually mean by that? Are you working on another book about her? If so, details please!
CL – I’ve said all I can 🙂
I guess we’ll just have to patiently wait and see. Check out my review of Madam under Historical Fiction on Underrated Reads.