Sentinels of New Orleans
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: TOR Books
Date of Publication: November 8, 2016
Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 93,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Suzanne Johnson's "strong and intriguing" (Publishers Weekly) urban fantasy series continues with Belle Chasse. The Sentinels of New Orleans series has earned starred reviews from Library Journal ("a resourceful heroine who relies on her magical ingenuity") and PW ("vivid...a lively tale jam-packed with action, magic, and intriguing plot twists").
With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.
With no one on the throne, Faerie is in chaos, with rival princes battling for power. The still-undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is building his own army of misfits, and DJ stripped of her job and hiding in the Beyond to avoid the death sentence handed down by the wizard Council of Elders can’t get anywhere near her beloved New Orleans or her significant something-or-other, Alex.
It's time to choose sides. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become allies, and not everyone will survive. DJ and her friends will learn a hard lesson: sometimes, even the ultimate sacrifice isn’t enough.
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It’s usually from a combination of stories and trivia I’ve tucked away in my subconscious that somehow, at some point, coalesce into an idea for a book or series. With the Sentinels of New Orleans series, it came from a combination of leftover PTSD from having been a New Orleanian at the time of Hurricane Katrina, plus moving away from New Orleans into a small town where I didn’t know anyone, plus rediscovering urban fantasy in the form of Simon R. Green’s Nightside series, plus reading an essay by fantasy author Terry Pratchett about the glass ceiling in fantasy magic—wizards were almost never female and witches, mostly female, were always inferior to wizards.
So that all coalesced, somehow, into an urban fantasy series about a female wizard in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina when the borders between our world and the preternatural universe fall, gradually throwing her world into utter chaos.
2. Do you have a dream cast for your book?
For the Sentinels books, I think the actress Emilie de Ravin, in her “Lost” era, would make a good DJ, the heroine. I don’t think she’d kick Joe Manganiello out of bed if he played Alex. There has been a Facebook movement afoot to cast Jason Momoa as the undead pirate Jean Lafitte since he played Lafitte on “Drunk History,” and I could be down with that. I haven’t found the right actors for the others, though. It’s a big cast!
3.How do you handle writer’s block?
By binge-watching entire seasons of TV shows? I am very deadline-driven, so the times I’m likely to get writer’s block are the times when I do not have a hard deadline on a book…like right now. I can set deadlines for myself but I’m not very good about keeping them. When I leave the day job next spring to write full time, I’m going to have to get over that little problem really fast! Seriously, though, you just have to write through writer’s block. Write something every day, even if you know it’s crap you won’t end up keeping, because everything can be revised but you can’t revise what you haven’t written. Do as I say, not as I do!
4. What inspired you to write this book?
Technically, the fact that I had a contract and a deadline—two great motivators! It’s the fifth book in a series of six, so there will be one more. I have known how the series ended since about book two, so this has been unspooling in my head for several years, at least in general terms. In terms more specific to BELLE CHASSE, it has very much been influenced by what I have seen going on around me in the United States politically the last three years or so—NOT the election, because the book was completed at the end of 2014 so it was written before all the election drama began. But the anger and unwillingness to move forward—or move, period—had a big influence on the behavior of the Interspecies Council in particular. It has also been influenced by history—specifically, the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and how it all played out. Just imagine it playing out with pirates and wizards and elves and faeries instead of pirates and Americans and Brits!
5 .What’s the hardest part of being an author?
Time management, for me. I have a 50-hour-a-week “evil day job,” plus caregiver duties for a disabled Senior Adult, plus what needs to be a full-time writing career. What gets undone is sleep, self-care, and housework. And writers don’t just write; they also need to read, and they have to do the bulk of the marketing and promotion on their books themselves. So finding enough hours in the day without getting too exhausted to function—it’s a challenge. I try to stay positive…especially since I’m leaving the day job at the end of March in order to write full time. Yay!
Thanks for having me here today!