"I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."
-Winston Churchill

Friday, May 30, 2014

Interview with Author, Suzanne Johnson - Sentinels of New Orleans Series (Book Tour & Giveaway)

Elysian Fields

Sentinels of New Orleans Series

Book Three
Suzanne Johnson

Welcome to IAB. I'm so glad you could stop in today to chat. May I offer you a beverage? 

I’ll have a Magic Margarita, please!

Now that we are settled in, let's get to know you better.

BK: Looking out the nearest window, describe the scene you see.

I see the big curve in the Mississippi River as it winds past the French Quarter in New Orleans, and a big freighter docked on the other side.

BK: Tell us about your office. Is it a mess like mine, or is everything in its place?

OMG. It’s a disaster. I have a little pig trail through the piles of books, papers, art supplies, books, clothes, and books. The worse my deadlines get, the worse my housekeeping. Which isn’t great to begin with.

BK: What is a must-have, such as coffee or a favorite pen, that you need to write?

I need Diet Coke in a bottle, not a can, and (weird, I know), I don’t really want it chilled. Room temperature holds its carbonation better. I pretend I’m being European, but it’s really because it stays carbonated longer.

BK: Do you like to write in silence, or do you need music or background noise?

If I’m revising or copyediting, I like music, but I can’t write to music. If I’m writing, the music’s off. I just don’t hear background noise. I guess it’s from learning to work at a newspaper and write in a newsroom—I can completely block out noises and voices (but not music).

BK: Tell us a bit about your hero/heroine, and their development.

When the series begins (in Royal Street), the heroine, DJ, has led a pretty sheltered life. She’s a Green Congress wizard (ritual magic), but she received her magical training from her mentor so she hasn’t had a lot of real-world experience. She did go to a regular human university (humans don’t know about the other species) so she could learn to mainstream. When Hurricane Katrina hits and New Orleans’ levees fail, she loses most of the people and things she’s used to define herself and her place in the world, so she has to grow up fast. As the series has progressed (through book two, River Road, and book three, Elysian Fields) she’s come to know herself better, to trust her instincts more, and to assert her powers more. That progression will continue as the series goes on.

BK: As a writer myself, I'm always curious how other writers get through stumbling blocks. When you find a story not flowing, or a character trying to fight you, how do you correct it?

I go old-school. I shut down the computer, go off in a quiet corner with a notebook and a pen, and I start sketching out my character’s pros and cons, his flaws and his strengths. I try out different scenarios for the scene that’s giving me trouble and see what works best. Usually, if a character is giving me fits it’s because I haven’t gotten him or her fully developed in my mind or I’m trying to force a scene that isn’t consistent with their personalities. As soon as I’ve given it some serious thought, I go back and force myself to write the scene. I won’t let it fester long. Even if what I write is crappy and I know I’m going to go back and change it, I get it on paper. That keeps a stumbling block from becoming a writing block.

BK: Using the letters of your first name as an acronym, describe your book...

Hahaha. Crap, I would have a name with a freaking Z in it. Can I change my name to Pam? No? Okay, I’ll just cheat.

Sexy pirates
Urban fantasy
Zaftig serial killer
Axe murderer
Nonstop Action
Eek! Elves!

BK: How did your writing journey begin?

With Hurricane Katrina. I was living in New Orleans at the time of the storm and went back for a couple of years of rebuilding before moving away for family reasons. I found myself in a small town where I didn’t know anyone, was horribly homesick for New Orleans, still had some residual PTSD from the storm, and decided to try working it off by writing a book, which became Royal Street. There’s a line toward the end of the book that says something like: “Katrina took, and she gave.” I lost a lot but wouldn’t trade my “new” career writing fiction for anything.

BK: Using the letters from the word, Summer, how would friends and family describe you?

Suzanne understands methodically measuring every ramification….I think that means I’m pretty intense and obsessive about my work, but I’m not sure.

BK: What is the craziest thing you've ever written about, whether it got published or not?

I’ve written some wacky flash fiction shorts in the Sentinels series world. Craziest….Probably the story of the undead pirate Jean Lafitte in a supermarket looking for cat food (he thinks the cat is the food so he goes to the butcher department).

BK: Tell us one thing you've done in life, that readers would be most surprised to know.

I break out in hives when I’m stressed—this only began two or three years ago. I have them now because I have a ridiculously tight deadline coming up.

BK: What can we expect from you in the future?

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, the fourth book in my Penton Legacy, comes out on June 10. The fourth Sentinels book, Pirate’s Alley, is in the revision process and will come out next spring. I hope to have a collection of shorts in the Sentinels world this fall.

This or That...

Coke or Pepsi? Coke

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird (who’s only able to find writing time late at night, making me an early-bird-but-reluctant-night-owl).

Fantasy or Mystery? Fantasy

Pen/Paper or Computer? Computer

Pizza or Burger? Burger

Rock or Country? Both

Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla

Beach or Mountains? Mountains

Thank you so much for having us as one of your stops today. It has been great getting to know more about you and your book, and hope you will come back when the next release is out (*hinthint*)

Thanks for having me here today!

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Date of Publication: August 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0765333193

Number of pages: 352
Word Count: approx. 102,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi. New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans.

Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren't random--an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard.

Namely, DJ. Fighting off an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn't easy. Jake Warin's loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world's most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex
Warin just turned up on DJ's to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte's pirate wench? It could be DJ's best option.

River Road

Sentinels of New Orleans
Book Two
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327802
ASIN: B00842H5VI

Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 92,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Royal Street
Sentinels of New Orleans
Book One
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327796
ASIN: B006OM459U

Number of pages: 337
Word Count: approx. 94,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco's job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans' fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards' Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ's new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

About the Author:

On Aug. 28, 2005, Suzanne Johnson loaded two dogs, a cat, a friend, and her mom into a car and fled New Orleans in the hours before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Four years later, she began weaving her experiences and love for her city into the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, beginning with Royal Street (2012), continuing with River Road (2012), and now with Elysian Fields (August 2013).

She grew up in rural Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace, and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years—which means she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

As Susannah Sandlin, she writes the best-selling Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series and the recent standalone, Storm Force.


1 $25 GC to Amazon or equivalent to Book Depository

2 $10 GC

2 Signed books and swag packs


Roger said...

The tour comes to an end, now we wait for Pirate's Alley, April 2015. While your waiting go buy Royal Street, River Road, and Elysian Fields. Or read them again.
Enjoyed the Q&A. Thanks.

The Sentinels series is:

Right On

OMG Outstanding




Liz S. said...

Enjoyed the Q&A very much. Can't wait for Pirate's Alley! This is a great series and Elysian Fields will take you on a wild ride.

Dawn C said...

So glad I stumbled upon Royal Street! This is a favorite series of mine. Excited to hear a short story book will be released in the near future. Thank you Suzanne!

Dangerous Druscilla
Amazing Adventures
Wonderful Wizardry
Notorious New Orleans

miki said...

I can imagine your room and the level of stress ^^ just remember that your fan are behind you and i'm sure some wouldn't mind to use the brooms and help cleaning if necessary^^ ( not sure Rand would propose his help;) )

i can't wait for the next release such a wonderful programme even if we do need to be patient^^