Thursday, April 04, 2013

30 Days of Why I Love New Orleans - Day 10

Meet Suzie Q and the NOLA of Anne Rice

            One of the best things about the city of New Orleans for me has been people! In the time I’ve spent there I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of the most intriguing and talented people in the world—and people who love the city, the culture, and bring it to others.
   Suzie Quiroz is delightful—and has done something special in the city for years now. If you come at Halloween, there are a variety of things to do and amazing balls to go to. But Suzie introduced a very special ball years ago and it continues to grow. Now, she also does a writer’s con to go with it and pulls in some of the top names in the business. So, I’d like you to meet Suzie Q. And if you’ve a hankering to go to NOLA in October, she has a very special treat set up for 2013.

            I’ll let her explain in her own words. (Mostly!)

H: Suzie, you're a master at the city! I've been to your ball
and con and both are wonderful. (Suzie's NOLA Halloween
Ball is legendary!) When did you first come to NOLA?

S: I came to NOLA when I was 13 years old. My mom was born in N.O. and grew up in the Irish Channel. She met my dad during the war when he was in N.O. before he went to Korea. My dad was born in Lancanster, Ohio. My brothers and sister and I were born there, and Melanie was born in
N.O. Coming from a small town, I thought N.O. was huge. I saw my first movie at the Saenger Theatre with my cousin Cindy after my first ride on the streetcar. The movie was Love Me Tender with Elvis. I was in heaven! 
H: You were Anne Rice's assistant for years. What was that like--and is that how you got into doing  your wonderful ball?

S: My sister Melanie said I had to read Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. I met Anne Rice at the Queen of the Damned booksigning in Oct. 1988. Melanie Scott, Susie Miller, Teresa Simmons and I asked her if we could start a fan club for her. She said Lestat would love to have a fan club so we got about 35 people signed up. Anne invited us over to her house and we were given some names to call. It was usually me who would call when we needed things to print. When I lost my job at
a law firm, I asked Anne if she needed a secretary so that is how I got the job.
It was the greatest job because I never knew what I would be doing. It was very challenging. One day when she was on tour she called with my assignment. Pack some clothes and catch a plane to meet her in DC for the Memnoch book tour. I did the bus tour too for Servant of the Bones. In 2000, the fan club ended and in 2002 I started holding the Ball again with my own funds. Things went well and Anne came to the Ball again in 2004. Then Stan was diagnosed with cancer. After Stan's death, Anne moved to CA to be closer to Christopher and I was out of a job. Katrina hit soon after that and I had to start over. When I finally found a place to stay and had access to a computer again, I restarted the fan club so I could afford to hold the Ball in 2006. It has grown since then with authors like Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton coming to be the Queen of the Ball. Then in 2010 I wanted to expand and have authors come to take part in panels to talk about their books, to tell us how they got started and about publishing in general. The first year, Heather Graham, Dacre Stoker and
Gabrielle Faust were my headliners and each year we added more authors to our panels like Sherrilyn Kenyon last year. There are many stories of my job that were so memorable, and I guess you could say for 15 years, I was in my dream job. I learned so much from Anne and traveled all over the world. I cannot thank her enough so it was just logical for me to continue the fan club and expand it into a way to bring more people to New Orleans. And all who sit in the panels get to know the authors whose books line the shelves of the book store. These authors who aren't yet as well known as the top NY Times best sellers, will be better known when they leave.

H: What's your favorite thing about the city?

S: I actually like taking people from out of town around the city showing them, not only the French Quarter, but the Garden District, and the big, beautiful houses along St. Charles and Carrollton Avenue. I show them the streetcars, the restaurants, the festivals. 
There is always something going on here. And much to see in certain areas; so many places in the city that are still not rebuilt after Katrina. I show them all of it, good and bad, because this is where I always want to live.

H: What's going on with you, your con, and the ball for this year—that’s special to you and many, many fans of a particular author—one who helped NOLA become even more famous?

S. I am still in the process of forming the author panels with some authors who have not yet confirmed. I was told that some publishers are not so quick to commit due to the writer not being as huge as Anne Rice. It was exciting to hear that Anne Rice confirmed she would be at the Ball and after we found the place for the Author Social on Thursday, she confirmed not only that she was coming, but that her publisher Vicky Wilson would attend as well!
A lot has to be confirmed when holding a four day event. We are using the same hotel and venue for the Ball but with the New year, Mardi Gras and the Superbowl all within weeks of each other, it was hard to get everything confirmed. More clubs and big charity events and huge music festivals are held on the same Halloween weekend than before so it all has become more difficult to get what you want at a venue big enough for your group on those dates.
The good news is that there are interesting authors who can make it and one is coming all the way
from South Africa! Another is stationed in Afganistan now after completing tours in Iraq and will get out in September. Really the best part of this is meeting all the authors and hearing their stories. I could not ask for more. I am thrilled to meet them all.

H: How do people reach you if they want to become involved in any or all of your projects?

S. Our website is and I can be reached by emailing me at I answer the emails and send out the memberships and have had local people help with this. It is a big job and without our webmistress and many extra helping hands that work tirelessly and contribute ideas and solutions, I could not make these events happen. We also communicate on Facebook and will be posting when we meet in case local people want to become a part of our staff. We can always
use a blood infusion!

More about the Ball:
The theme for the Ball this year is Lestat's Reunion Ball celebrating the return of Anne Rice to New Orleans and her participation in the festivities. There will be special presentations and a Q&A at the Ball. Our musical entertainment will be planned and hosted by violinist Paul Mercer with Jill Tracy as Master of Ceremonies. Costumes are encouraged but not required, 18th century theme this year. We will also have our signed book raffles that will benefit St. Alphonsus Church. The Author Meet and Greet titled "An Evening with the Angels and Saints of St. Alphonsus Church" will highlight the historic church's need for our help to save the art and history of this Church of the Irish that is directly across the street from the German Church, St. Mary's Assumption. You can read more about the history of these two churches at
Please visit our website,, or our facebook page for more updates on our festivities and participants

H. Thanks, Suzie. I can tell people with all my heart that your ball and con are great! I did have the pleasure of being a speaker and I’m one of the people trying to fix their schedule to get back this year.  Our Slushpile band played the ball one year and it was a great time!
Now, if you can’t make October and you can make December, there’s another con I’ll tell you about, Writers for New Orleans.
But that’s for another day!

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