It’s not often that I do spotlights or guest posts without reviewing the book in question, but for Suzanne Johnson, I’m happy to make an exception. Except that I’m waiting on pins and needles for book 4 in the Sentinels of New Orleans series to come out, and it’s not here yet!
I’ve adored the series so far. New Orleans has always fascinated me, and her series brings the city to life in an absolutely magical way, and not just because of the paranormal element involved! If you love urban fantasy with a touch of romance, start with Royal Street (reviewed here) and barrel on through River Road (see review) and Elysian Fields (of course review).
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!
Keeping Fantasy Real
by Suzanne Johnson
One of my favorite things about paranormal fantasy set in the real world is the “what-ifs” it brings up. The more real the setting, the more the paranormal world in that setting seems possible. I mean, can you PROVE the hot guy down the block isn’t a werewolf? A day-walking demon? I didn’t think so.
So one of the things I like to do in building the worlds for my urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels is to find a real-world setting and make it a character in itself. I want readers to be able to look on a map or in a guidebook and say, “Hey, that place really exists!”
In the Sentinels of New Orleans series, which is celebrating the release of Elysian Fields in paperback on May 13, that setting is, of course, New Orleans. It’s not only my favorite city, but is the place I consider my hometown even though I no longer live there. I was there for Hurricane Katrina. I’ve attended more Mardi Gras parades than I can count. And, yes, I’ve eaten gator (which does NOT taste like chicken).
Here are some of my favorite New Orleans settings for the Sentinels series. Most you can visit but one could land you in jail!
1) Uptown. This is a big swath of New Orleans located about two miles west of the French Quarter. My heroine, DJ, lives on the corner of Nashville Avenue and Magazine Street; her significant something-or-other Alex lives next door; her friend Eugenie is across the street; and her stalker-ish nemesis Rand across the street. In reality, this corner houses a pizza restaurant, a couple of coffee shops, and a meat market. Also in this area: DJ’s office, in Riverside Market on Tchoupitoulas Street (where a pack-and-ship store is located); Audubon Park, where DJ and Alex run (well, he runs and she dawdles); and some of their favorite restaurants, particularly Frankie and Johnny’s on Arabella and Tchoupitoulas.
This is a nice little tour of Uptown, where I was fortunate to live for almost 15 years.
2) The Hotel Monteleone. I don’t set a lot of the book in the French Quarter, because, quite frankly, locals go to the Quarter maybe once a year, when the tourists are gone. But still, one can’t set a book in New Orleans without including the Quarter. On upper Royal Street is the Hotel Monteleone, where the undead early 18th-century pirate Jean Lafitte makes his home in the Eudora Welty Suite. For $1,800 a night (plus taxes), you can rent that suite for yourself. And you might see Jean downstairs in the Carousel Bar, which he’s been known to frequent. Yes, you read that price correctly; the sexy French pirate is loaded, and he pays in ill-gotten gold.
3) Six Flags New Orleans. A theme park, you ask? A ghostly theme park. In the flooding following Hurricane Katrina, back in 2005, Six Flags went under eight or ten feet of water. The water eventually drained, but it was a total loss and never reopened. Caught in terminal litigation, it also never got torn down. So you can still head out to New Orleans East and see the creepy ruins and rusted rides. It’s illegal to enter, however, so don’t say I sent you! You can watch this video (which erroneously says it was torn down) and creep out vicariously. Quite a few scenes in Elysian Fields are set here.
4) The Napoleon House. One of my favorite real-life spots in the French Quarter, on the corner of Chartres and St. Louis, and worth the parking hassle. In Royal Street, before he moves into modern New Orleans permanently, the pirate Lafitte makes the banquet room on the second floor of this restaurant and bar that was built back when the human Lafitte walked the streets of the city. These days, they make the best muffaletta in town, a great drink called a Pimm’s Cup, and is a fab place to people watch.
5) Plaquemines Parish. This is the parish (what the rest of the country calls a county) located due east of New Orleans, on the narrow spit of land that sticks out into the Gulf of Mexico, bisected by the Mississippi River. I love Plaquemines, which is why I made it home base for a clan of merpeople—aquatic shapeshifters, many of whom work in the fishing industry. (Don’t think about it too hard.) Anyway, much of River Road is set in Plaquemines, from Belle Chasse down to the mouth of the Mississippi. It’s worth a drive out of the city, and if you go, stop for lunch at the Black Velvet Oyster Bar in the community of Buras; you might see Rene Delachaise or one of the other mermen plowing through a plate of crawfish.
If you have a half hour to spend, take this trip through Plaquemines and you might see some of the spots from River Road, from Pass a Loutre (which DJ tried to burn up) to Venice (Rene’s home base):
So there you have it—a quick tour of New Orleans via the Sentinels series. Hope to see you round there sometime! Have you been to New Orleans, and did you have a favorite spot (or do you want to go to a particular spot)? Leave a comment in addition to entering for the tour prizes for a signed copy of your choice of the Sentinels books.
On Aug. 28, 2005, Suzanne Johnson loaded two dogs, a cat, a friend, and her mom into a car and fled New Orleans in the hours before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.Four years later, she began weaving her experiences and love for her city into the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, beginning with Royal Street (2012), continuing with River Road (2012), and now with Elysian Fields (August 2013).She grew up in rural Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace, and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years—which means she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.As Susannah Sandlin, she writes the best-selling Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series and the recent standalone, Storm Force.To learn more about Suzanne, visit her Website and Blog Twitter Facebook Facebook Fan Page Goodreads
Suzanne is giving away the following prizes to lucky commenters on this tour:
(1) $25 GC to Amazon or equivalent to Book Depository
(2) $10 GC
(2) Signed books and swag packs
a Rafflecopter giveaway