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29 Days Until Halloween

I'm sure you've heard of the "werewolves of London." But what about the vampyres of Tulsa?

The mother-daughter author team of P.C. and Kristin Cast set their best-selling House of Night series in an alternate-universe version of my hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA -- a version of Tulsa that has, among other interesting inhabitants, vampyres (that's the Casts' spelling). As a matter of fact, I'm currently writing an essay about the ways in which the authors reimagine the most Gothic sites in Tulsa (for a forthcoming Smart Pop Books collection about the House of Night novels, entitled Nyx in the House of Night: Folklore, Religion, and Myth in the PC and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series).

Many of the places described in the novels truly exist (including Street Cats, a non-profit rescue for felines, Utica Square, the Starbucks there, St. Joseph Monastery, and the school attended by protagonist Zoey Redbird -- and yours truly -- South Intermediate High School).

House of Night books Pictures, Images and Photos


Whether or not you've read the House of Night novels, I thought you might enjoy a quick tour of some of the most interesting "real life" places in Tulsa that feature in the series, several of which are reputed to be haunted.

  • Cascia Hall, a Catholic college preparatory school, has changed hands in their novels, and it's now the House of Night academy for vampyre fledglings.

    cascia hall Pictures, Images and Photos


  • The gorgeous art deco Union Depot, now the Tulsa Jazz Hall of Fame, figures prominently in the novels.


  • A pivotal scene later in the series takes place in the park at Gilcrease Museum, and the infamous Gilcrease Mansion (on the museum grounds) serves as a hideout for a key character.


  • One of my favorite places in Tulsa, Philbrook Museum of Art, is the setting for some of the series' most significant action, along with Philbrook's elaborate gardens.

    Just take a look: can't you imagine vampyres hanging out here?


  • Last but most definitely not least are the famous Tulsa tunnels running underneath the city's downtown and connecting many of its most prominent buildings. Originally built to move freight, the tunnels became popular with the more security-conscious of the wealthy businessmen after the 1932 kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Rumor has it these tunnels also moved alcohol during Prohibition -- supplying the oil needed to fuel the oil tycoons, as it were. In the Casts' novels, the tunnels become the territory of a new breed of so-called "red vampyres." Click here to see a photo set of the tunnels and the buildings they connect. Click here to read more about the tunnels.

    Philtower Underground Tunnel



Text of the Day: Beyond its Tulsa setting, the House of Night series is also known for its incorporation of pagan, Wiccan, and Catholic traditions, Manichean thought, and especially Cherokee mythology, the latter of which explains the presence of Raven Mockers as characters. It seemed fitting to quote today from the classic Myths of the Cherokees by James Mooney (1861-1921) for more information about the terrifying Raven Mockers.

Teaser:
Of all the Cherokee wizards or witches the most dreaded is the Raven Mocker (Kâ'lanû Ahkyeli'skï), the one that robs the dying man of life. They are of either sex and there is no sure way to know one, though they usually look withered and old, because they have added so many lives to their own.

At night, when some one is sick or dying in the settlement, the Raven Mocker goes to the place to take the life. He flies through the air in fiery shape, with arms outstretched like wings, and sparks trailing behind, and a rushing sound like the noise of a strong wind. Every little while as he flies he makes a cry like the cry of a raven when it "dives" in the air--not like the common raven cry--and those who hear are afraid, because they know that some man's life will soon go out.

Read James Mooney's complete description of the Raven Mockers here.

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
reynardine
Oct. 2nd, 2010 01:02 pm (UTC)
It's fascinating how everyday places can serve as decent fictional settings. Heck, suburbia terrifies me! ;-D And many seemly mundane cities often have a touch of the goth about them, somewhere.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 2nd, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
It's fascinating how everyday places can serve as decent fictional settings.

I know exactly what you mean! I also love how seeing something familiar through the lens of fiction makes it seem brand new and magical again. And I think it's fabulous that even Tulsans are discovering aspects of Tulsa that they didn't know about previously, thanks to these books -- such as the tunnels, for instance.
endlessrarities
Oct. 2nd, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
The Union Depot looks like a smashing building!
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 2nd, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
It's amazing! I remember going there for a field trip when I was in school in order to study its architecture.

Just now I was really tickled when I went to Flickr and found loads of pictures of it from different angles. It's really one of Tulsa's treasures, and I'm so glad the museum found a home there.

Edited at 2010-10-02 05:28 pm (UTC)
endlessrarities
Oct. 2nd, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link!

Don't mean to sound ignorant, but...

I had visions of loads of trilby-clad, chain-smoking socialist workers of the 1930s having urgent meetings to discuss the Great Depression.

The fact that it was a train station never crossed my mind! D'uh!!

Nice train station. Very nice train station...
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
ROFLOL! Well, I can imagine some of that kind of activity probably happened, too... although they probably had to elbow the bootleggers out of the way. ;)

Edited at 2010-10-03 01:07 pm (UTC)
primroseburrows
Oct. 2nd, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
I would think that even though the original closed, urban explorers are still um, exploring.

I'll look into the House of Night series. I usually shy away from Vampire stories (eww, Twilight, eww), but since you're writing an entire book about it, it probably doesn't suck.

Also, gargoyle! :)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 2nd, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
Excellent point! Not much dissuades those intrepid urban explorers. I'd love to see an episode of the History Channel's Cities of the Underworld (which must've been cancelled somewhere along the way???) devoted to Tulsa.

To be honest, I'm just writing one essay to be included in a larger collection on the series; there are others writing different essays. But thank you for the kind vote of confidence! It's funny if you know anything about Twilight, because the Casts' series takes some very pointed shots at the Twilight books, and seems to be, in a way, framed as the anti-Twilight. I've been particularly interested in the books because of the Tulsa connection, of course (some of my former teachers even show up in cameo appearances, which I find to be hysterical) and the way the authors incorporate traditional Cherokee mythology -- which, I would say, is done in a rather more informed and respectful way than what I know/understand of Meyer's use of the Quileutes.

I love gargoyles! :)

Edited at 2010-10-02 05:29 pm (UTC)
primroseburrows
Oct. 2nd, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Rhode island has quite a few abandoned spaces. I'd love to go on an adventure and explore cool stuff like the East Side Railroad Tunnel.

I love the idea of incorporating Cherokee mythology--it's actually the draw that might get me reading it (The aboriginal mythology of Charles deLint's stories is what first drew me to those wonderful works).

I've tried reading Twilight; I really can't speak on the content because I can't get past the first chapter. It reads like bad fanfiction (and by this I mean no disrespect to fanfiction, because I've read quite a bit that was light-years better than Twilight).

eldritchhobbit
Oct. 4th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
I'd love to go on an adventure and explore cool stuff like the East Side Railroad Tunnel.

Oh wow - that would be amazing to explore!

I'm with you about incorporating Native mythology. Fascinating and beautiful stuff.
mamomo
Oct. 2nd, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
Really interesting post! I hadn't even heard of this series, but now I'm intrigued.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad it was interesting to you! I was afraid I was being a bit self-indulgent, but honestly, I'm fascinated both by urban history like this and also by the ways fiction can interact with real places -- especially when both are a bit spooky. ;)
mguibord
Oct. 2nd, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
I haven't read any of these but the settings look wonderful. Especially the Philbrook Museum pic- what a lovely shot!
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you think so! It's been a real treat, reading these stories set in a recognizable-yet-changed Tulsa.

I was thrilled to find that picture of Philbrook. It's a jaw-droppingly gorgeous place, and lots of people choose to have their graduation/wedding photos taken there. The museum's amazing, too. When I was very, very young, my parents took me to a showing of Camelot outside on the lawn one autumn evening. No wonder I became an Arthurian/Gothic/SFF kind of person - I never stood a chance, with an introduction like that, in such a setting! LOL.
homespunheart
Oct. 2nd, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
I thoroughly enjoyed today's post!! Seeing places familiar since childhood through the eyes of vampyre fiction is eerie! Love the House of Night books and look forward to your essay of Gothic Tulsa sites. Thanks for the memories..however spooky :)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
I am so thrilled you like the post! I was particularly psyched to find those maps/discussions of the tunnels. Thanks a million for your support, encouragement, and expertise as I put together this essay!
thepirateship
Oct. 2nd, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
I love real-world settings in books. It adds more depth to both the book and the place. Even in my own story it has significantly affected my views of some of the real-world places in it. Seneca Falls, NY for example has become a very Elvish place instead of just my hometown. It has a magic it didn't seem to have before. Very cool.

It's fascinating how often the raven appears in different mythologies.

:-)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly; real world settings give fiction more depth, while the fiction gives the real world setting more magic. It's a win-win!

It is interesting how the raven keeps turning up, isn't it?
childermass
Oct. 3rd, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
I love the picture of that gargoyle! :O Love how twisted he is.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad - I love it, too. He's one seriously twisted guy. ;)
(Deleted comment)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
Oh my, wouldn't an Outsiders crossover be brilliant? :D I saw one critic had said that this series is the best coming-of-age story to emerge from Oklahoma since The Outsiders, which I thought was high praise.

The NSU campus at Tahlequah is seriously gorgeous. My father graduated from there, and I've been there many times with him. I loved your desription of your class in "new wave splendor" (LOL! I remember the days!) wandering around Philbrook. Isn't it the best? My favorite memory of Philbrook was attending one of the films on the lawn with my parents when I was small. We packed a picnic and sat on a blanket and watched Camelot on a huge screen, surrounded by those amazing gardens, in such an otherworldly setting. It was magical.
(Deleted comment)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 3rd, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
Your spooky wins!

ROFLOL! I can't take credit for it; Tulsa was spooky long before I was around. It's fun, though, to see that others have picked up on it, and now they're turning a whole new audience onto the fact.

Your Twilight comment completely cracked me up. Yes, indeed, I would say the Casts' incorporation of Cherokee mythology is done in a rather more informed and respectful way than what I know/understand of Meyer's use of the Quileutes. ;)
crazywritergirl
Oct. 5th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
Wow. We're in the same anthology! I'm writing an article about the Marks/tattoos in the series. I can't wait to read your piece.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 6th, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC)
Seriously? How awesome is that!?! That sound I hear is my "cool factor" ratcheting up several notches from the prospect of being in the same volume with you. *grins* Very exciting!

Thanks for your kind words. I can't wait to read your essay! I'm fascinated by the Marks in the series (especially the every-changing ones on Zoey and the new red ones with Stevie Rae), so it will be great to get your insights on them.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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