Welcome to Immortality and Beyond. May I offer you a drink?
BK: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in high school. A friend and I started an “alternative” newspaper in the tenth grade that got confiscated after one issue, so in our senior year we founded the school’s literary magazine—which they’re still doing. My college degrees are in journalism and English, but I’ve spent all my career working in journalism until 2009 when I somehow found myself turning into a novelist.
BK: Please tell us a little bit about your current release...
Omega is the third book in the Penton Legacy series. It’s about a world in which a virus vaccine has made human blood poisonous to vampires, which has the vampire world on the brink of civil war and starvation. It all centers around a community in Alabama where a group of vampires who want to peacefully coexist with humans fight for their survival against a political vampire power structure that wants to destroy them. Each book has a different hero and heroine, so there’s romance and action. Omega is Will’s story. He’s a 60-year-old vampire turned in the late 1960s at age 22 who’s partnered with Randa, a female soldier-turned-vampire. The hippie and the soldier!
BK: What inspired this particular novel/book?
Will has been a character in this series from the beginning. Unlike most of the “old-world” vampires, he’s relatively young. He likes technology and music and modern lifestyles, so he does a lot of the planning and operations of Penton. I liked the idea of the “modern” vampire. Once I began writing this story, though, I realized Will had a lot of deep secrets he’d been holding inside, so he went from being a kind of shallow and Teflon-coated character to someone who’s very complex and layered.
BK: How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
Paranormal romance, and especially vampire romance, has become a very crowded field. The Penton series is set in an almost post-apocalyptic setting, with the vampires on the bottom of the food chain for a change (and they don’t like it, as you might guess). I also wanted my vampires to have retained a lot of their humanity—they’ve intentionally lived among humans and not set themselves apart. So it really is an unusual setting for a vampire genre. There’s also a dominant external storyline—the siege of the town of Penton—that goes across the novels and holds its weight with the romance. It’s almost like a “paranormal romantic thriller.”
BK: What was the hardest thing about writing this story?
By the time I’d gotten to this book, I had literally driven my characters into a corner so tight that it was difficult to figure out how I could possibly get them out of it. It meant taking a huge twist in the endgame of the story—one that would literally change the world of every character in the series. I think it works, but it might take some readers by surprise!
BK: Which character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?
I love Will, the hero, because of all he’s been through in his life and how strong he’s had to be to survive it. But there’s a new series character, Cage, that I became very, very fond of while I was writing it, so I’m looking forward to exploring his story in more detail.
BK: Tell us about the one scene you had the most fun writing…
Will and Randa have always had a contentious relationship, and they’re both smart-alecks. So I figured it would take something explosive to get them to open up to each other. What’s more explosive than a grenade and the collapse of an underground bunker? Where she ends up pinned on top of him? I had a lot of fun with that scene. They’re in the dark. They’re pinned down and pinned together. They’re forced to actually talk to each other. It was delicious fun!
BK: Will this become a series? If so, what inspired it to be a series? OR If it is a series, what inspired it to become a series?
This was always envisioned as a series—a trilogy, actually. It was a story that needed more than one book to complete. I come up with the external story idea first, and then develop the characters. The trilogy is complete, but there are a few storylines I still need to wrap up, so I’ll be working on that later this year.
BK: Now for a little fun, and into your everyday life, What is a day in your life like?
It’s ridiculously boring! Monday through Friday, I’m up by 6, I make sure my blog is ready to go, and then I’m off to my day job as editor of a university magazine. I slave in the dayjob pit from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., usually eating lunch at my desk. I race home, feed my dogs, have dinner, watch an hour or so of TV, and then by 7:30 or 8 p.m. am writing. I write until about 11 p.m., read a while, zonk out, and then do it all again the next day. I usually take Saturday off, then write for 11-12 hours on Sunday. See…I told you it was boring! I very rarely deviate from this workaholic routine.
BK: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m trying to brush up on my rusty French with audio lessons that I mostly work on in the car going to and from work. I love music; my current favorite artist is a French-Canadian singer-songwriter named David Jalbert. He’s brilliant. I read, although since I began my book blog (Suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com) I don’t read as much for pleasure as I’d like.
BK: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Most people think I’m laid-back and easygoing, but under that calm exterior I am very driven and competitive.
BK: What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have a single favorite. There are several authors I’d follow into a gator pit: Jim Butcher, JR Ward, Kim Harrison. Outside my genres: Alabama author Rick Bragg; Stephen King.
BK: What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?
Right now, you think getting published is the goal, the hard thing. But it isn’t. Staying published is harder. Writing to deadline is stressful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it’s stressful. So decide how badly you really want it.
BK: What are you currently working on?
I have a serial novel called STORM FORCE that will be released by Montlake Romance beginning March 19. Once its run as a serial is done, about July, it will be released in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. It’s about a combined team of former Army Rangers and their paranormal counterparts who investigate cases of domestic terrorism. It’s a “paranormal romantic suspense thriller.” Which should be fun!
BK: Where can readers connect with you?
Readers can find me at my website, on Twitter, on Facebook, via email, and on my book blog (as Suzanne Johnson), Preternatura.
Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.
Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612183541
Penton Vampire Legacy, Book 3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: February 5, 2013
Number of pages: 328
Word Count: approx. 88,000
The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton's humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal's vicious leader, Will's capture could doom the resistance.
Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will's polished charm and Randa's guarded heart finally give way to the warrior within.
Fans of Susannah Sandlin's Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.
The Penton Legacy, Book 2
By Susannah Sandlin
Release date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance
With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal.
A Scottish gallowglass warrior turned vampire in the early 17th century, Mirren Kincaid once served the Tribunal as its most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the Tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the Tribunal wants him back on their side—or dead.
To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?
It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.
Book One Penton Legacy series
By Susannah Sandlin
Following a worldwide pandemic whose vaccine left human blood deadly to vampires, the vampire community is on the verge of starvation and panic. Some have fanned into rural areas, where the vaccine was less prevalent, and are taking unsuspecting humans as blood slaves. Others are simply starving, which for a vampire is worse than death—a raging hunger in a creature too weak to feed.
Immune to these struggles—at first—is Penton, a tiny community in rural Chambers County, Alabama, an abandoned cotton mill town that has been repopulated by charismatic vampire Aidan Murphy, his scathe of 50 vampires, and their willingly bonded humans. Aidan has recruited his people carefully, believing in a peaceful community where the humans are respected and the vampires retain a bit of their humanity.
But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan’s brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton—and Aidan, against whom he’s held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland. Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan’s own human familiars
To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor—and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago.
Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she’s developing for her kidnapper are real—or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she’s allowing herself to become a victim yet again.
Susannah Sandlin’s REDEMPTION is the first in the Penton Legacy series. Book two, ABSOLUTION, will be out September 18, and book three, OMEGA, on December 18.
tour wide giveaway details
1 Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Simple Touch
(or US$100 gift card for Amazon, B&N, or Book Depository)
5 $10 gift cards to online bookseller of choice