Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Cari Lynn is the author or co-author of four books of narrative nonfiction and a new work of historical fiction (with Kellie Martin), Madam: A Novel of New Orleans, which is based on the true story of New Orleans' experiment with legalized prostitution in the late 1800s.

Kellie Martin is probably still most fondly remembered for her work as Becca Thacher in the ABC series Life Goes On for which she received an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress. From there, Martin played the title role in CBS’ drama Christy. She also played medical student Lucy Knight on NBC’s ER from 1998-2000. Her most recent series was the Hallmark Channel’s Mystery Woman from 2005-2007.

Lynn applied the Page 69 Test to Madam and reported the following:
It’s almost as if page 69 of Madam knew it would be put to the test! This last page of Chapter 4 manages to hit upon most of the major themes of the book. It’s 1897, New Orleans. We’re seeing the main character, Mary, a poor alley whore, returning from a visit to Miss Eulalie, the Voodoo queen, who’s known to have the best remedy for the “gleet” (a general term used on the street to describe the venereal hazards of Mary’s profession).

Mary’s pimp, Lobrano, is waiting at her house, wondering where she’s been. Mary provides for her brother and his wife, and they share a tiny, dirt-floor house where no one speaks about how Mary earns her way. We get a sense of Mary’s low life and her seemingly helpless situation under the thumb of her pimp. But we also see a spark of Mary’s gumption, signs of the spirit that will compel her to risk everything, to devise a plan to outwit her pimp, and to completely reinvent herself as Madam Josie Arlington. And it’s worth a note that the characters on this page are all based on real people of the same names.

Excerpt from page 69:
Mary gritted her teeth. “Ain’t feelin’ too good is all. Went to get a remedy.”

He studied her, a look of disgust creeping over his face. “You ain’t gone and got yourself in a bad way, have you?”

“No,” she said, insulted, “I always use the French preventative.”

“Good, ’cause you my little cash cow.” He moved toward her, his wandering hands trying to pick up where he’d left off the other night.

“Can’t, Lobrano,” she said forcibly and stepped into the house, only he wedged his foot so she couldn’t shut the door. He followed her inside, already having scoped the place to know that Charlotte and Peter weren’t home. Coming up from behind Mary, he rubbed himself against her like a feral cat. She could smell the drink on him, a constant smell these days. Her fingers traced the outline of the remedy bottle in her pocket, and she could hear Miss Eulalie’s voice warning of the gleet’s fleas.

“Ain’t a good idea, Lobrano.”

He grunted and pushed Mary onto the cot, onto the clean white blanket where pregnant Charlotte slept. She had tried to warn him, but since he wasn’t willing to listen, Mary stopped resisting and let her body uncoil. She planned how, not a moment after he left, she’d strip the bedclothes and boil them in a kettle of water. Leaning back, she tried to hide the little smile playing on her face—Lobrano deserved exactly what he was about to get.
Read more about Madam, and visit the websites of Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin.

--Marshal Zeringue