Suzanne Johnson is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her work this year with the release of two new series that very quickly became two of my favorite all time series:
The sexy PNR series PENTON LEGACY (written under the name Susannah Sandlin) about a vampire enclave in Alabama, and the UF series, THE SENTINELS OF NEW ORLEANS, about the junior wizard, Drusilla Jaco, or DJ, as she battles to keep the supernatural from overflowing into our mundane world.
Johnson created something special with both series but it’s especially in the Sentinels of New Orleans where she’s blown me away with her world-building. And you know me…I love a good supernatural world. Her concept of the historical dead is fun, original, and, with the famous pirate Jean Lafitte, very, very sexy.
The Sentinels series encapsulates everything I love in a good UF – solid character development, a great blend of mystery, action, and romance, and a love for New Orleans that shines through more than any other paranormal read set there that I’ve encountered in recent years. All of this makes Suzanne Johnson one of my favorite writers.
Please welcome Suzanne to SWR as she discusses five books that inspired her!
SUZANNE JOHNSON & THE 5 BOOKS THAT INSPIRED HER
1. The Stand by Stephen King
This is the first book I remember reading when I was old enough to really get caught up in the emotion of adult characters. It gave me an appreciation for a big, sprawling story with multiple points of view, each character richly drawn and deeply flawed—yet still heroic. It’s arguably the first modern dystopian novel—99.4 percent of the world’s population dies quickly from a pandemic virus, and the remaining .6 percent quickly divide into good and evil. With a supernatural element, of course.
2. All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
I adore Rick Bragg, and from his books All Over But the Shoutin’ and Ava’s Man, I learned what it meant when people spoke of an author having a voice. Hearing Rick’s voice helped me find mine—or at least recognize that I had one. Shoutin’ and Ava are both memoirs but read like the best fiction. And he grew up in my neck of the woods, in the Appalachian foothills of north Alabama, so his people and his family customs are not so different from my own, for better or worse.
3. Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
I spent my teens reading these huge gothic multigenerational family sagas by Susan Howatch—Penmarric, The Wheel of Fortune, Sins of the Fathers, The Rich are Different. But my favorite was always Cashelmara, which is set in Ireland during the Potato Famine and afterward. I’ve probably read that book at least twenty times. In fact, I’m eyeing it as I type this. It’s been quite a few years, and I wonder if it would still hold the magic for me. Susan Howatch was the first author whose work I obsessively collected in hardcover.
If you are going to read one book about what life was like in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, this is the one. You should read it. Before Katrina, Chris Rose was an entertainment writer for the Times-Picayune, New Orleans’ newspaper. During the storm, he camped in primitive conditions and wrote about his city every day for four months, providing a heartbreaking lifeline to those of us scattered around the country, evacuated from our homes and desperate for news. He fell into a very public depression and that, too, is on these pages as he chronicles the trauma we all went through and gave us a voice. This is a collection of his daily columns, and it still makes me weep to read it. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer. He should have won it.
5. Storm Front by Jim Butcher &
Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green
Okay, this is two books so I’m sort of cheating, but after years of reading literary fiction and nonfiction, I stumbled across two urban fantasy series in 2008, started reading them, and fell in love. I’d read a few Anita Blake books years ago but hadn’t kept up with the genre, so it was like discovering a new world. I devoured all the Dresden and Nightside books back-to-back. I’d been toying with the idea of trying to write a Katrina novel to exorcise my own demons from the experience, and after reading these two series, I knew I wanted to write urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance.
MY CHARACTERS ARE READING…
DJ Jaco would claim her favorite is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but in reality (she’ll deny this), it’s the Harry Potter series. She adores the Potter books in private, but in public enjoys making fun of how easy everything is for the fictional wizards.
Alex Warin reads a good bit of military history, but when he wants to relax he pulls out a Harlan Coben thriller such as Tell No One.
Jake Warin is not a big reader, but he has taken to studying books on wolf pack behavior.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR SUZANNE…
The third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, Elysian Fields, will come out next August, and I’m working on a digital short that’s sort of a “Misadventures of Jean Lafitte” and should be out in the spring.
I just released a digital short that is a standalone paranormal, Christmas in Dogtown.
Omega, the third book in my Penton Legacy series written as Susannah Sandlin, will be out on February 5.
And I’m working on a couple of proposals for new projects!
5×5 Giveaway – Suzanne Johnson
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