Wilds of the Bayou Series
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: October 18, 2016
Number of pages: 266
Word Count: approx. 80,000
Cover Artist: Michael Rehder
For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisiana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it’s a place of refuge—one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her…or anyone else.
The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.
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Suzanne Johnson writing as Susannah Sandlin is the author of the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, including the 2013 Holt Medallion Award-winning Absolution and Omega and Allegiance, which were nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She also wrote The Collectors romantic suspense duology, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, 2015 Holt Medallion winner and 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner. Her new suspense series Wilds of the Bayou started in 2016 with the release of Wild Man’s Curse and continues with Black Diamond. Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Susannah loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.
Twitter: @Suzanne_Johnson https://twitter.com/Suzanne_Johnson
I usually can’t point to a single thing—it’s several ideas bubbling around in my subconscious that bind themselves into a story or series idea. In the case of the new Wilds of the Bayou series (book one, WILD MAN’S CURSE, came out in April and book two, BLACK DIAMOND, comes out tomorrow, 10-18), the series is about a team of wildlife enforcement agents (think hardcore game wardens) who find love and adventure deep in the bayous of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. I’ve been wanting to set something in rural South Louisiana, among the bayous and alligators, for a while. I’m fascinated by the culture and the terrain. The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last year reminded me about Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents, who were the first that made it into my flooded hometown to do search and rescue. I’d also been wanting to write a romance series that dealt with a whole “band of brothers” idea. And—voila—the series was born! I also read a lot of magazines and keep a notebook of random thoughts that keep the ideas percolating.
2. Do you have a dream cast for your book?
I don’t always cast my hero and heroine but I did for BLACK DIAMOND. When I was writing it, I had recently been binge-watching (pause for moment of humiliated silence) “America’s Next Top Model,” and I think it was in one of the last seasons, there was a guy named Mikey who was kind of rough around the edges but sexy. He “grew up” to be model Michael Heverly, and I think he’d make a perfect Cole, the hero. For the heroine, Jena, I found the perfect actress while I was looking for something else, and I didn’t write down her name. Anyone recognize her? She’s a badass enforcement agent; Cole is, well, when the book begins he’s a hermit and hasn’t cut his hair in five years. Yeah, there’s a story behind that!
3. How do you handle writer’s block?
Sometimes I binge-watch reality TV shows (ahem). If I have a hard deadline set by my publisher, I’m pretty good about powering through writer’s block. Fear of missing a deadline is a great motivator. Mostly, though, I’m a plotter. By plotting out at least the major structure of the book ahead of time, I might not be happy with what I’m writing but at least I know where I’m trying to go and am less likely to get stuck. And, for me, it’s the first draft that’s so hard. I love revision; anything can be fixed as long as you get it down the first time—even if it sucks.
4. What inspired you to write this book?
BLACK DIAMOND, like the series itself, was inspired by extreme South Louisiana, which has a truly unique culture and terrain, and by the work done by the Louisiana wildlife and fisheries enforcement agents. But the idea for the drug called Black Diamond, which gave the book its name, came from reading news stories about the epidemic in South Florida of a dangerous “bath salt” drug from China called flakka. I started thinking about how a similar drug might infiltrate my setting in Terrebonne Parish—who would bring it in? How might it be distributed? And how might my wildlife agents get dragged into the investigation?
5.What’s the hardest part of being an author?
I used to think it was getting published. Then, after I got published, I decided it was staying published. Now, my biggest challenge is time. I have a pretty demanding day job, which means in order to write multiple books per year I get very little sleep, have no social life, and my house looks like a tornado went through it. Burnout is a danger. I’m finally making the leap to full-time author next spring, so I’m hoping the time crunch will get better. Then I’ll have to come up with a new “hardest” thing!
Thanks for having me on your blog today!