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The One Place that will Haunt Me Forever

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Before I started working on Book 3 in the Book of Eve Series, I headed to my photo archives (as I usually do) for some much needed inspiration. I came across some photos from several years ago when I had the amazing opportunity to explore the Catacombs of Paris.

The Catacombs themselves have an interesting history. They were constructed in the late 18th century after churches ran out of burial room. Cave-ins around Paris, and the threat to the water supply highlighted the need for new burial space. A plan was developed to move the remains of approximately 6 million people even deeper underground. The project took over two years, but once finished, the Catacombs offered the peace of mind the city need at the time.

As many of you already know, I am just a girl who loves to write about things that go bump in the night. The one thing you might not know about me is . . . I am afraid of the dark.

Part of what helps me come up with so many of my story ideas is that I have an incredibly overactive imagination. When I was young, for example, I could only fall asleep if the blankets were tucked in around my neck. Why? I didn’t want the witches to have anything to grab onto when they tried to snatch me away from my family.

Obviously.

While I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m too old for witches to kidnap, my imagination still doesn’t do me any favours, ever, especially when human remains are involved. Case in point, just look at that body language (photo below)! At this point I haven’t even reached the creepiest part of the tour. However, I have made the husband walk behind me because of the ghosts.

Obviously.

catacombs

Which brings me to the unexpected element to the tour. The actual catacombs don’t appear until you’ve spent about fifteen minutes wandering through a dimly lit tunnel. Despite my fear, I have to admit it was pretty fascinating to stumble across different historical markers carved into the stone walls.

When we finally reached the entrance to the catacombs, I almost missed the telltale sign that we had arrived. It’s a little tricky to see in the photo below, but the warning reads, ARRÊTE! C’EST ICI L’EMPIRE DE LA MORT. This of course means, STOP! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF THE DEAD.

city-of-the-dead

With a gentle prod from the husband, I headed inside.

Already in a sombre mood, I was prepared for a hushed, maybe even reverent atmosphere. I was mostly right. Visitors bottle necked, gasping at the sight of so many bones piled up on either side of the tunnel. I had never seen so many human remains in one place before. The part that really gave me the heebie-jeebies was that the walls were constructed from skulls and other bones. Behind them lay piles of bones, as high as the walls themselves.

catacombes-de-paris

Here, you can see a writer trying to decide whether or not going on the tour was a good idea.

At the time of our visit, my imagination took me in a stereo-typical, horror-filled direction.

Not pictured was a young girl. Her mother had given her a camera. Now, I’m not sure what this girl’s deal was, but she insisted on holding that camera about a foot away from a skull, screeching, “say cheese!”, before taking a picture of it and moving on to the next.

I wanted nothing to do with her. I mean (aside from being completely disrespectful) was she trying to pick up a curse on her family vacation? Today’s agenda:

  • Baguette
  • Cheese
  • Anger spirits
  • Wine

No. Thank. You.

While the writer in me knows that elements of the situation might make for a great story idea one day, my current interests lie elsewhere. Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ve got some great scenes in Book 3 that lend themselves to what I witnessed down in the Catacombs. Looking at these pictures now really help me to effectively put my characters into the scene. I can take elements of how it felt to walk through an empire of the dead, what it smelt like (not great), the sound of dripping water, and the dark corners where age and decay have made the tunnels unsafe to explore.

Or, you know, because that’s where the demon’s love to hide.

Obviously.

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Crystal Bourque

Crystal Bourque is an up and coming, new adult, urban fantasy author. She is obsessed with all things fantastical, so much so that she has a recurring dream about being a princess with a sword. When she’s not busy writing, she loves trying new recipes, plotting her next travel destination, and singing loudly.

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