Café au lait with BOURBON STREET NIGHTS Author Jack Caldwell

Coffee with ColetteGood morning, dear readers! 

Today, I am excited to welcome back one an Austen Variations Authors and fellow Louisianian Jack Caldwell. I had the pleasure of being with Jack at the Jane Austen Literary Festival in Mandeville earlier this year (where I got an autographed copy of The Plains of Chalmette, the War of 1812 being my favourite war), and he told me about his upcoming Crescent City Trilogy, which revolves around Hurricane Katrina while blending together our beloved Jane Austen characters like coffee and chicory.

I find it hard to fathom that it has been almost a decade since that horrible time in our lives. I went back to New Orleans two weeks after the storm, and it looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off, so silent and eerie without even birds in the sky. But she is tenacious and, although bloodied, remains unbowed. Who better to write about that sultry lady New Orleans and why she matters?

Jack also has an excerpt for your enjoyment, in which the men in our heroines lives are making things complicated (Don't they always?). Be sure to leave a comment below and you could win a print copy of Volume I: Bourbon Street Nights



About Bourbon Street Nights: Volume I of Crescent City time I was here, I was having fun with COMPANION OF HIS FUTURE LIFE. Not today. Today, we go back to drama. Today I talk about my most personal project—CRESCENT CITY.

As you know from Colette's introduction, I am a native of Louisiana. I spent most of my life in Southeast Louisiana and New Orleans. On August 28, 2005, my world was turned upside down by a monster named Katrina.

I wished I could have remained in my native state for the rebuilding, by fate had other plans for me. Six months later, my wife and I began a seven-year “exile” in the upper Midwest. While there, I heard one too many TV talking head pontificating why New Orleans should be abandoned. I faced a choice. I could hunt down that moron and beat his self-satisfied face silly. Or I could do something positive.

I chose the latter. Eighteen months later, I finished the first draft of CRESCENT CITY, my 300,000-word, 1,000-page Jane Austen-themed argument for why New Orleans matters. Now, with the tenth anniversary of Katrina approaching, I have decided to publish CRESCENT CITY. I started things off earlier this year with a prequel. THE PLAINS OF CHALMETTE: a Story of CRESCENT CITY is set during the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and explains how the Darcy family arrived in Louisiana.

Revised and edited, CRESCENT CITY is now a trilogy, an epic story spanning eight years. I blend the plots of Pride and Prejudice, Sense 

and Sensibility, and Emma into a gumbo of romance, tragedy, and redemption, while telling the true story of Hurricane Katrina.

It is a tale of three women. Elizabeth Boudreaux is a Cajun from the swamps. Her friends are Emma Weinberg of New Orleans, and Marianne Dashwood from Jackson, Mississippi.

We begin in 1998 with Volume One: BOURBON STREET NIGHTS. Elizabeth is a sophomore journalism student at Loyola University. Vocal music major Marianne is her roommate, while Emma studies fine arts at Tulane University next door.

During that academic year, they met the men who loved them and the men who broke their hearts. Elizabeth was both attracted to and repelled by overconfident graduate student William Darcy, heir to a vast shipping fortune. Marianne was caught in a triangle between the charming John Waguespack and the quiet medical student Chris Breaux. Emma was so busy running other people’s lives she overlooked her life-long friend, Dr. George Katz. Carrie Bingley was chasing Will Darcy while escaping from her overbearing mother, Catherine. And NOPD Lt. Richard Fitzwilliam was desperately trying to put drug-dealer Greg Wickham away for good before he destroyed another life.

All this happened in America’s most unique and misunderstood city, the other main character in the story—New Orleans.

BOURBON STREET NIGHTS: Volume One of CRESCENT CITY is available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Kindle.

ELYSIAN DREAMS: Volume Two of CRESCENT CITY, scheduled for a July 1 release, picks up the story five years later in 2004. On September 1, RUIN AND RENEWAL: Volume Three of CRESCENT CITY will finish this tale.

Available now from Amazon ~ B&N ~ Kindle ~ BAM

Excerpt from Bourbon Street Nights: Volume One of Crescent City
(This is from Chapter 10. Our heroines are enjoying a Mardi Gras parade, but the men in their lives are making things complicated…)

Parade time approached and the crowd ventured forth to claim its spot along St. Charles Avenue, the men carrying the supplies. Emma Weinberg was exceedingly proud of herself. Jane Boudreaux and Chuck Bingley had not stopped talking since they were introduced.
“I see it worked,” a male voice came from behind her.
“See what, George?”
“Your very obvious match-making between Chuck and Elizabeth’s sister.”
She turned to him. “Take that back. I was not obvious.”
George Katz laughed. “If you say so.”
“Anyway, it worked. Just look at them.”
“Anybody can get lucky, Em.”
“Humph! Luck’s got nothing to do with it. I’m just very talented at this, and I’ll prove it to you. I’ve already scoped out my next triumph.”
“Oh? Who’s the victim?”
“Elizabeth and William.”
George raised his eyebrows at her. “You’re trying to set up Will Darcy? Good luck with that! Hope you like eating crow.”
“We’ll see who’ll be eating crow. How do you like it—stewed or fried?”
“Whatever. Where do you want this ice chest?”
They secured a location, and the group waited for the first siren, indicating the NOPD escorts were close by. The party broke up into several loose groups: Chuck and Jane were joined by Elizabeth, William, Chris Breaux, and Carrie Bingley, who’d been released from her kitchen duties. Henry Tilney and Cathy Morland were with a younger group of Alpha Iotas and their dates. Emma stood back to take it all in, her father and George nearby. Marianne Dashwood seemed to be on the outskirts, looking around.
Looking for John, thought Emma sadly. She had come to the belief that John wasn’t good enough for Marianne.
“Carnival Time” was playing on the boom-box. Marianne started to shout and wave. Sure enough, John Waguespack ambled up with a tall, rangy companion.
“Holy—” breathed Henry. “Tommy! Hey, everybody, it’s Tommy! Tommy’s back!”
As one, the party descended upon Tom Bertram, full of shouts and handshakes and slaps on the back. Cathy and others made sure there were a few kisses on his cheek, as well. Only Marianne and John moved away from the reunion.
“Hey, baby!” John reached for Marianne. He was happy and horny and hoped tonight was the night.
But Marianne rebuffed him. “You’re late, John. Where were you?”
John was taken aback. “Umm, I had to bring Tommy. It’s his fault.”
Marianne held up her hands. “Enough, John. It’s always somebody else’s fault! No, don’t touch me.”
“Aw, c’mon, baby, don’t be mad.”
“I am mad. I’ve been waiting for you for over an hour. John, I’m real tired of this. If you want to be with me, you have to start keeping your word.”
John blew up. “Shit! Mari, you just don’t understand! Sometimes stuff just happens! I can’t help it!”
“You could have called.”
“But I didn’t think we were running that far behind. I thought—”
“No, John. You didn’t think. You didn’t think of me.”
“What are you talking about? I think about you all the time.” Usually in some sexual position.
Marianne stood with her arms crossed over her chest, looking daggers at John. John fought not to show the fury he was feeling. How can this be my fault? I’m the victim here! Instead, he assumed his most pitiful expression.
Ultimately, Marianne’s resistance broke first with a sigh. “John, I don’t wanna get into a fight tonight. Let’s just enjoy the parade. But I expect you to treat me better in the future.”
It sounded like an ultimatum. John did not like ultimatums.
He licked his lips and seemingly capitulated. “I’m sorry, Mari. I promise this will be the last time. I’ll be on time. I’ll call if something happens. That’s the way it’s gonna be from now on. I’ll try to do better.”
“All right. Let’s join the others.” Marianne turned and walked towards the crowd still surrounding Tommy.
Inside, John was seething. He knew his chances of sex with Marianne that night were toast. Damn frigid bitch! Everything happens to me!
The tête-à-tête went unnoticed by almost everybody in the crowd, except for one medical student.
The wail of the police sirens recalled everyone’s attention to the reason they were standing in the middle of the St. Charles Avenue’s neutral ground. The most important vehicle led the parade—the power company truck outfitted with a probe to check the clearance beneath the canopy of live oak limbs. As the crowd thinned out, Tommy was left alone with William and Elizabeth.
“Bertram,” offered William as he shook the younger man’s hand, “welcome back.”
“Thanks. It’s good to be back.”
William nodded. “So, are you coming back to school?”
“Gonna try to, next fall. Gotta work on my recovery. I’m working this term and going to NA.”
“NA? That’s wonderful, Tommy,” responded Elizabeth.
“Where are you working?” asked William.
“Popeye’s on Napoleon and Claiborne. I’m off tonight, but I gotta work through the rest of Carnival. We sell a lotta chicken over Mardi Gras, dude. Whoa!” He bent and picked up a doubloon which had just missed his head with a grin. “Gettin’ dangerous out here! Anyway, I’ll be putting in twelve-hour days startin’ tomorrow.”
William nodded again. “You got to do what you got to do, Tommy.”
Elizabeth touched his arm. “Well, I think you’re going to be just fine, Tommy. We’ll be praying for you.”
“Thanks, Lizzy.”
William looked Tommy right in the eye. Tommy didn’t flinch. “Good luck, Tommy.”
“Thanks.” With nothing else to say, Tommy waved and strolled up to where the younger people stood.
“Boy’s got a tough row to hoe,” William said.
“But he’ll make it, don’t you think?”
William shook his head. “Recovery from alcohol or drug dependency is real hard. Most don’t make it. Relapse rate’s sky high.”
“But Tommy will make it!”
“Maybe.” As they talked, Carrie and Chris approached.
Elizabeth stared at Darcy with surprise. “How can you be so cynical about your fraternity brother? Don’t you believe in him at all?”
“We’ll see. I’ll be pulling for him, but I won’t get my hopes up.”
“Jezze, you’re a hard-ass, Darcy!”
William’s response died on his lips as Carrie grabbed his arm. “Enough of this! C’mon Will, let’s get back to the parade.” William allowed himself to be dragged off, with a searching look at Elizabeth.
Chris sidled up Elizabeth, who was clearly pissed-off. “I’d cut the boy a little slack, Elizabeth. There are things about him you just don’t know, things that make him the way he is.”
Chris had calmed down Elizabeth somewhat. “Ooooh, sounds like a story there. Care to dish?”
“Not my tale to tell, Liz. All I’ll say is he has a real issue with substance abuse.”
Elizabeth allowed a small smile. “Well, he is your best friend, so that must count for something.”
Chris chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, well, Will can be a stick-in-the-mud, sure. But when the chips are down, there’s nobody I’d trust more. One other thing—you think Will’s tough on others? Maybe. But that’s only because he holds everybody to the same high standard he holds himself. If Will’s a hard-ass to anyone, it’s to William Darcy.”
Music and merriment filled the mild nighttime air along St. Charles. The floats, pulled by small tractors, rolled sedately down the famous avenue, lit up from head to stern with bare electric bulbs. The maskers, in varying shades of inebriation, filled the air with beads, doubloons, and other trinkets. They tended to throw toward pretty girls, and it was a testament to Alpha Iota’s ability in attracting good-looking ladies that the group got far more than its share, even without anybody lifting their tops.
The marching bands played everything from Mardi Gras standards to badly arranged versions of current top-forty hits. The famous live oaks of Uptown and the Garden District were festooned with stray strings of beads. It was as though the old lady that was New Orleans had put on her cheapest costume jewelry and joined in the fun.
The city’s dance studios were out, too. The girls, varying in age between six and fifteen, wore their skimpy costumes and half-danced, half-marched in step behind a van or pick-up truck, blasting out hip-hop. It was something only a mother could love.
Elizabeth had retreated to the group’s collection of ice chests to get a cold drink. Bored, a couple of the guys were tossing around a Nerf football. Just as Nick Patel was stumbling after a long throw, a little black girl walked out of the crowd, directly in his path.
Before Elizabeth could scream a warning, William Darcy appeared out of nowhere. He blocked the girl with his body, sending Patel to the earth. William was hit hard, but he refused to move, holding himself on his hands and knees, grimacing in pain. The child was scared stiff and stared at her savior with wide eyes.
Elizabeth finally got her legs to work and ran towards them. By that time, Chris knelt by the pair, talking to the girl in soothing tones as he turned repeatedly to his friend. A few steps away, William made a gesture that Elizabeth should look after Patel instead. He then turned his attention to Chris and the child.
Elizabeth and others were soon assured that Patel was unhurt. Her eyes flew to William, and she watched him and Chris talk gently to the frightened girl. She was obviously lost, and William slowly stood up to scan the crowd. His clear look of pain made Elizabeth gasp.
After a moment, William called the others’ attention to something to their right. Elizabeth saw a large black man in the early stages of panic, walking along the back of the crowd, head whipping around, calling out to someone.
The little girl nodded, and William and Chris walked her by the hand towards the man. He gave a shout of relief and seized the child, holding her high in the air before clasping the girl to his chest, kissing her repeatedly. The man shook hands with both men. William paused to share a few words with him, one hand on his shoulder, while Chris shook hands with the happy little girl. He laughed and gave the girl the longest string of beads from around his neck.
The father and daughter disappeared into the crowd while William and Chis rejoined their friends.
“Are you all right, Will?” Elizabeth cried.
“I’ll feel it in the morning, but I’ll live, Boudreaux. How’s Patel?”
Elizabeth reported Nick suffered no damage to anything but his pride. “He didn’t know what happened at first, but he was grateful for what you did when he saw that little girl. That was her daddy, I take it?”
“Yeah. He told me she has the habit of wandering off. He was really scared.”
“I’ll bet he’ll keep a closer eye on her from now on,” Chris said.
“He told me he’s going to keep her on a leash.” Darcy winced. “Man, I gotta work this out. Didn’t know Patel could hit so hard. My shoulder hasn’t felt this bad since high school and that last playoff game against John Curtis.”
“Do you want a beer, Will?” Elizabeth offered.
“Yeah, I think it would help.”
“Help him over to the folding chairs, Chris. I’ll be right back.” She gave William a smile and moved quickly to get his drink. When she turned to hand the brew to William, she saw Carrie had found him and was sitting on the chair next to him, rubbing his arm and expressing her horror that he had been hurt.
Something made Elizabeth take the chair on the other side of William as she handed him his beer. “Thanks, Elizabeth.” His eyes seemed to plead with her to get rid of Carrie.
“Shall I get Jane to check you out?”
“No, it’s all right. Let her enjoy the parade.” He looked over towards the street and gestured with his beer. Jane was up on Chuck’s shoulders, screaming for beads.
Elizabeth was stunned. All her life, Jane was the good girl of the Boudreaux family. She made the best grades, she was the most popular, she was queen of homecoming and president of her class. She casually dated, but never had a serious boyfriend. Elizabeth could almost guarantee Jane was still a virgin. Unlike the impertinent Elizabeth, sarcastic Mary, drama-queen Kit, and spoiled Lydia, Jane had never given her parents a moment’s trouble.
Jane did not climb on top of a guy she had just met—until now.
“I think she’s having fun, don’t you?” William quipped.
“Umm . . . excuse me for a second.” said Carrie as she got to her feet. “Oh my God, Chuck has fallen in love again?” she mumbled as she strode directly towards her brother with the nurse on his shoulders.
Chris took the chair vacated by Carrie. “You can close your mouth now, Elizabeth.”
“Wow,” Elizabeth breathed. “That’s so not like Jane.” She shook her head. “But she’s a big girl, and Chuck is a nice guy. So, you’re right. Let her have some fun.”
She took a long pull on her Diet Coke. This had been an interesting night. Jane, Tommy … and William. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye. Just who are you, Mr. William Darcy? Every time I think I’ve got your number, you surprise me. I still can’t quite figure you out.

Want us to throw you something? Leave a comment below and you could win a print copy of BOURBON STREET NIGHTS: Volume One of CRESCENT CITY.
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About the Author
Jack Caldwell is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook. Born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, Jack and his wife, Barbara, are Hurricane Katrina victims who now make the Suncoast area of Florida their home. nickname—The Cajun Cheesehead—came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. (Every now and then, Jack has to play the DVD again to make sure the Saints really won in 2010.)
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Jack's blog postings—The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles—now appear regularly at Austen Variations.
Web site – Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile –
Blog – Austen Variations –



  1. I love how Mr. Caldwell mixes the characters into a story that makes you look at Jane's originals and think they MUST have known each other...LOL I have only been through NOLA, never spent any time there so I look forward to reading these stories for more than one reason. Lovely excerpt!!

  2. Mr. Caldwell is one of my favorite writers. I feel like I am in his stories as I read, which is one of the reasons I love his work so much.I am also from the south and I love the spin he puts on his work. I love this excerpt it was excellent I look forward this read your future works.

  3. I'm looking forward to being able to read this story. I've enjoyed other stories of his and liked them. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.
    carterkristina2 (at)

  4. I really enjoyed the excerpt, loved the mixing
    together of Jane's characters, and I also
    adore NOLA!
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. Love the excerpt, Jack. And what a wonderful way to combine some of Jane Austen's characters in your novel. And thanks for offering the book as a giveaway.


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