Whenever I start to write a story about Alondra DeCourval, I usually don’t have any idea what the story will be about. Generally, I’m inspired to write about her in a new location. I throw her together with some characters, then see what they talk about.
In the case of “Last-Born” — which closes out the Alondra’s Investigations chapbook — I knew I wanted to write a story about Alondra studying in New Orleans. She wouldn’t get involved in vodun proper, but she would be studying herbs and tisanes from a powerful woman. That led me to Marie and her husband Jackson.
Alondra has had a complicated relationship with her own mother, who had children too young and never had much interest in raising them except to be reflections of herself. Alondra ran away from home at the age of 12 and was taken in by Victor, but I felt she needed a strong matriarchal figure in her life. Hence, Marie Jackson.
I also knew I wanted to include a hurricane or tropical storm in the story. I’d visited New Orleans for the first time in September 1988 and was deeply impressed by the warm downpours that drove everyone off the streets every afternoon. Because Alondra’s element is Air, a lot of her stories revolve around weather. “Last-Born” was the first to do so.
“Last-Born” is also the first story I wrote about Simon Lebranche, although it comes later in Alondra’s life than “Valentine,” which appeared in the first Alondra chapbook, Alondra’s Experiments. The character of Simon was suggested by Brian Thomas, who also provided Simon’s backstory. Brian is the one who proposed that Simon’s blood would work as an abortifacient, which led me directly to the outcome of this story.
Alondra’s miscarriage did not have a direct parallel in my life, thankfully. This story was written ten years before my one and only, extremely complicated, pregnancy. I thought of Alondra a lot as my pregnancy progressed, but luckily, the story didn’t prove prophetic.
“Last-Born” was originally published in an anthology called The Ghostbreakers: New Horrors, edited by Danielle Naibert and G. W. Thomas, put out by RAGEmachine Books in May 2005.
It was reprinted in January 2008 in Sins of the Sirens: Fourteen Tales of Dark Desire, edited by John Everson. John’s Dark Arts Books published four author anthologies, combining published and new works in a showcase that allowed each author four stories. I was the newest author in the Sirens book, but John gave me the honor of leading the book off. I was privileged to appear alongside Maria Alexander, Mehitobel Wilson, and Christa Faust.
One of my favorite reviews of the story appeared in an interview I did with Meli Hooker for Dreadful Tales. She wrote, “This is a really dark, terrifying story. I consider this the closest to horror in the bunch [of my stories in Sirens] with seriously frightening imagery and buckets o’ blood…or at least a bathtub full.”
You can check out the story for yourself from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HVox7i