One of my favorite recent reads is Redemption by Susannah Sandlin. I loved the world-building, the relatable and complicated heroine, and the wonderful chemistry between the book’s central couple. Susannah also happens to be the creator of another favorite new series, The Sentinels of New Orleans, starting with Royal Street. So of course after I finished Redemption, I desperately wrote to her to invite her to be a guest on the blog. I was GEEKED when Susannah agreed to write a guest post for She-Wolf Reads about how she created the enthralling world of Penton and its vampire creators…
A Different Breed of Vampire
By Susannah Sandlin
A confession up front. I love vampires. Not the scary ones who rip people’s throats out, or the light and fluffy ones who drink V-8 posing as blood. You know the ones I mean: the sexy ones.
I’d always wanted to write a dark paranormal romance with vamps. But the vampire genre is so crowded that finding a distinctive spin posed a real challenge. I had to decide which vampire tropes I wanted to hang onto, and which ones I would reject. How would their world differ?
I found my inspirations in the unlikeliest of places: a tiny town in East Alabama called LaFayette and a bout with the H1N1 virus that was spreading around the world in the winter of 2010-11. The result was the Penton Legacy, a series that began this summer with the release of REDEMPTION and continues in October with ABSOLUTION.
I discovered LaFayette, the county seat of Chambers County, Alabama, while on a Sunday drive to explore my new neck of the woods. I’d just moved south of there, to Lee County, and was unfamiliar with the area.
I stumbled on a charming small town that was postcard-pretty but suffering mightily from the decline of the textile industry. When the textile mill jobs moved overseas, this part of the state had been hit hard. Much of the picturesque downtown main street of LaFayette consisted of empty storefronts. Just north of town, I found an unincorporated crossroads community called Penton. I picked this area to set my series.
But first, I got the flu. If you think back to that 2010-11 winter, a new “swine flu” was making the rounds. H1N1 had killed a lot of people in Mexico and, thanks to air travel, had spread rapidly around the world. There was much talk about global pandemics and superflu viruses, and the CDC was slow in getting a vaccine developed and distributed. I caught the flu before the vaccines made it to my area.
It wasn’t the worst case of flu I’d ever had, but it was bad enough, and it got me thinking about a global pandemic. What if we had a real one—more serious than the H1N1? What if the vaccine developed for it changed human blood chemistry so that it became lethal to the vampires who depended on humans for feeding? Would a starving vampire die, or just become a dried-up husk caught somewhere between life and death? What would the vampire world do, in a society where humans didn’t know of their existence, if they faced starvation and began fighting over the remaining unvaccinated humans?
Welcome to the world of the Penton Legacy. It’s a vampire-dystopian story with romance at its core. My vampires adhere to some of the classic rules: they can’t tolerate daylight; they are made vampire, not born; they are difficult to kill (beheading, heart removal); they feed on human blood; their saliva can anesthetize and heal; they are inhumanly fast and strong. And, well, yeah, some of them are kind of beautiful.
The Penton vampires are not “undead” but evolved—they don’t quit breathing and die when they go into their daysleep, but they can’t be awakened, either. They aren’t abnormally pale—they keep whatever skin tone they had when they were turn, so they’re able to mingle with humans as long as they keep their fangs hidden. They have no reaction to holy water or religious symbols because they’re not damned. They breathe, and their hearts beat—albeit more slowly.
But they’re in trouble. In the world of Redemption, the vampires’ place on the food chain has taken a nosedive. Suddenly, there’s a new, ugly way to die—by drinking from a vaccinated human—and a serious vampire food shortage. Human trafficking in unvaccinated people is becoming a real option.
In the middle of this maelstrom is an Irish-born vampire named Aidan Murphy. He’s not your typical alpha male hero. Violence is Aidan’s last resort. He’s bought up the town of Penton and populated it with his followers and their willingly bonded human familiars, hoping to keep them all safe from the increasingly dangerous vampire world. But Aidan and his people are about to be caught on the underdog side of a vampire civil war…along with one human doctor who suddenly finds herself a pawn in a world she didn’t know existed.
Was it a challenge to find a different spin on the vampire romance? Sure. But it also was a lot of fun, and in the process I met a lot of sexy vampires!
Find REDEMPTION at:
*Kindle version on sale for $3.99
For vampire Aidan Murphy, life has never been so desperate. The vaccine used to treat a global pandemic has rendered human blood deadly to his kind, leaving them on the brink of starvation and civil war. In tiny Penton, Alabama, Aidan establishes a peaceful community of vampires and unvaccinated human donors. He dares to hope they can survive until his estranged brother descends upon Penton and begins killing the humans. Determined to save his town, Aidan kidnaps an unsuspecting human doctor and finds himself falling in love for the first time in nearly four centuries. Dr. Krystal Harris thought she was coming to Penton for a job interview, but Aidan Murphy has other plans. Infuriated by his high-handed scheme to imprison her in the small town, Krys can’t ignore the attraction between them. But is it love? Or does her dangerous, charismatic captor want only to bend her to his will?
Find ABSOLUTION at:
*Kindle version on sale for $3.99
With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side.
To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?
About the Author
Susannah Sandlin is an author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night! A longtime journalist, Susannah grew up reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror-fantasy of Stephen King–the combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah also writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series under the name Suzanne Johnson. The first book of that series, Royal Street, was released in April.
Please visit Susannah at her favorite spots: