Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.
Publisher Page: http://us.macmillan.com/author/suzannejohnson
River Road is the second book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, following Royal Street, although it can be read as a standalone. In it, the borders between modern New Orleans and the preternatural world have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and the wizard sentinel whose job it is to police the borders has her hands full. She’s trying to calm feuding clans of Cajun mermen, figure out what’s poisoning the water of the Mississippi River, and—oh yeah—figure out who’s murdering wizards. The series was inspired by my own experiences as a New Orleans resident at the time of Hurricane Katrina, although, sadly, I am not a wizard and the undead pirate Jean Lafitte isn’t one of my key allies. Too bad, that.
Are you a full-time writer or do you have another job?
I’d love to write full time, but I have this annoying mortgage payment! So I have a day job as associate editor of a university magazine. My first career has been as a journalist and magazine editor. One of these days, though….
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
Since I do have a full-time “day job,” I have to maximize my writing time—which means I’m a plotter. I tried writing one book stream-of-consciousness, and it wandered all over the place and took longer to revise (like, six times) than to write in the first place. I don’t plan every little detail, but I do have enough nailed down to know what needs to happen in each chapter. I’ve written six novels now (nothing compared to lots of authors!), so I’ve gotten a system down that gives me enough outline to keep me from wandering off course, but still leaves me enough flexibility to be creative.
How long did it take you to write it? Did it require research?
This book took about four months to write, then another couple of months to revise. I tend to do a lot of research—probably too much. My wizard goes on a dinner date in a past version of New Orleans with the pirate Jean Lafitte, for example, and they eat at Antoine’s. So I researched what foods Antoine’s Restaurant served in 1850. I’ve done tons of research on the pirate Lafitte, New Orleans history and, for this book, the mythology of merpeople and nymphs. Lots of research!
Did you go the traditional way or did you self publish? What has the process been like so far?
I write two series (this one and a paranormal romance series under another name), and have gone the traditional route with both of them. I was fortunate after writing Royal Street to find a great agent, and then to have Tor Books interested in publishing the Sentinels of New Orleans series.
Do you have a favorite book you’d like to recommend readers?
In urban fantasy, I adore Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. In paranormal romance, I’m a big fan of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. I recently realized how long it’s been (like, years) since I read a standalone. I’m definitely a series girl!
Do you have another novel on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I have a holiday paranormal short, Christmas in Dogtown, that just came out for Kindle and Nook. And the third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, Elysian Fields, will be out next August—I’m working with my editor on revisions to that one right now. Then we’ll see—I have a couple of proposals for new projects I’m working on.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Thanks for having me here today! I always love to hear from readers and am happy to provide bookplates or answer questions!
Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 92,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
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.