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Monday, May 6, 2013

The Sentinels of New Orleans by Suzanne Johnson

Meet the Merpeople of River Road

As an author, it’s always a fun challenge to take a mythology and put a new spin on it. Which parts of the traditional lore do you want to keep, and what do you want to turn on its head?

In River Road, my new urban fantasy (with a dash of romance) that comes out this week, I wanted to take some of the water species—primarily Merpeople—and figure out a way to bring them into my world of a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. It’s a world already peopled with wizards, werewolves, and a species I call the “Historical Undead”—formerly famous New Orleanians kept alive by the magic of human memory. Think that guy walking down the sidewalk looks a lot like the late Louis Armstrong? Are you so sure it isn’t the REAL Louis Armstrong? And the undead pirate Jean Lafitte is everywhere!

These books have a very deep sense of place. You couldn’t uproot the characters and set them down in another city and have the book make any sense. So I wanted to make sure my Merpeople were tightly woven into the fabric of South Louisiana. And what does one find in South Louisiana? Cajuns. Fishermen. Alligators. Swamps.

Meet the Merpeople, River Road-style. They are aquatic shapeshifters (not wereanimals, so they’re not tied to the cycles of the moon and are born, not made). They can shift halfway into the classic human head to waist, with the fishy lower half and the big caudal fin. Or they can fully shift into big fish. Different mer clans shift into different types of fish.

Oh, yeah, and they’re Cajuns who work in the South Louisiana fishing industry, mainstreaming with humans who don’t have a clue. (You know, if you think about that too hard, it’s kind of cannibalistic—LOL.)

I have two feuding clans of Merpeople in River Road, the Delachaises and the Villeres. Merpeople in my world are a little cranky, tend to be on the shortish side (twins Rene and Robert Delachaise, at 5-10, are quite tall for mers), and, well, they like to fight. Diplomacy is not one of their finer-honed skills. They are long-lived but not immortal, and can mate with humans—although their kids will not be mers. (Probably just good swimmers, I’d think!)

And how are the Nymphs different from the Merpeople? Um…let’s just say the local group has unionized into the Greater Mississippi River Nymphs and their human mainstreaming occupation is a French Quarter escort service. Last I heard, they were bringing in some satyrs for the female clientele…

Want to win a copy of either River Road (or Royal Street, book one in the Sentinels of New Orleans series)? Leave a comment to win a signed copy (US and Canada) or a copy of the print book plus a signed bookplate (international).




River Road and Royal Street Button April May 300 x 225.png


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.

River Road
Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
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.

About the Author: 


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.








River Road and Royal Street Button April May 300 x 225.png



26 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading River Road. Already preordered the paperback version that will be out this summer.

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    1. Thanks for the preorder--I hope you like it!

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  2. Just love the Cliff Nielsen covers. Probably just good swimmers, I’d think! LOL!! Love this series. Team D.J. Thanks for the post.

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    1. LOL, and we all know who's NOT a good swimmer, don't we? That would be DJ!

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  3. I can't wait until my vacation time comes around so I can read both books in this series!

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  4. I enjoyed the first two books in this series. Looking foward to the third.

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  5. Enjoyed the interview , I'm going to love the merpeople, so very different. If I'm lucky enough to win I would like the first book in the series ,it looks so good!
    Irene (international)

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    1. Thanks, Irene. I really enjoyed the merpeople, too, and one of them--Rene--will play a big role in Elysian Fields as well.

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  6. I really loved the mer people... it was my first try with this kind of paranormal creature and i just want more
    thanks!!!

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    1. Thanks, Miki! I had to bring Rene in to help DJ out in Elysian Fields, so you'll see him again. They've become big buddies :-)

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  7. Love this series! The only other author I know who used merpeople in her stories was Mary Janice Davidson.

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    1. Thanks, Liz! I haven't read MJD, but have heard her books are really a lot of fun.

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  8. There just aren't enough merpeople in Urban Fantasy...although I think there are limited cities in which it could work! :-)

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    1. True, Mel. Louisiana is perfect because of all the wetlands--lots of places for merpeople to hang out!

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  9. I've really enjoyed this series, and am looking forward to more DJ (...and Alex and Jake and Jean, and Charlie!)

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    1. Alex and Jake and Jean and Charlie are all in Elysian Fields, although maybe in unexpected ways. And then there's Adrian and Rand...

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  10. I love this series! DJ is awesome and Jean is smoking hot! :)

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie! Shhhh....Jean has a big-enough ego. Although the last time DJ admitted he was hot, he thought she meant he was feverish :-)

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  11. thanks for the chance to read these books :) since i haven't read any of them, yet *grin*

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    1. We have to do something about that, Mariska! :-)

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  12. It's always interesting to learn more about a series' world!

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  13. I love how paranormal/UF stories allow authors to create unique stories and worlds. Even if you use the same sort of creature (a vampire for example) you can choose which legends to follow, which to ignore, develop your own reason for them, ect. I think that is why this is one of my favorite genres :)
    Congrats on the new release!
    June
    manning_J2004 at yahoo dot com

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  14. Don't think I've read any merpeople yet

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  15. River Road sounds really good :) Thanks for the giveaway!

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