Here we are winding down the month of October already as well as Something Wicked Rises. Even though we are nearing the end, I am not scrimping on the good stuff. In fact,
today I have a book that I think everyone should read.
Before I get to today's book, be sure to visit this post:
Today's novel, Pirateship Down is a self pubbed collection of short stories from the world of the Sentinels of New Orleans Series by Suzanne Johnson. This is one of my favorite series. If you haven't had time to check out the series, fear not. This is a perfect introduction since none of the stories tie into the main story arc. Instead this is all about the characters and the world. It is a light, fun and entertaining read. What I appreciate most is that Ms. Johnson published this collection on her own, so fans like me, will have something to tide us over until Belle Chasse release in November 2016. So let's support her and show our appreciation by snatching this up! I am delighted today to have the lovely and talented Ms. Johnson back on the blog once again. Let's take a minute to meet her:
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series from Tor Books. Royal Street, book one, came out in April 2012; River Road in November 2012. Book three, Elysian Fields, released on August 13, 2013 and Pirate's Alley book four came out April 21st 2015.
A longtime New Orleans resident, Suzanne is a veteran journalist with more than fifty national awards in writing and editing nonfiction for higher education, including the Robert S. Sibley Award for the best university magazine in the U.S. and Canada, for the Rice University Sallyport.
Suzanne is an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and is a member of the Georgia, Southern Magic, and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapters of RWA. You can find Suzanne on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Suzanne also writes the Penton Legacy under pen name Susannah Sandlin.
Suzanne has graciously agreed to do a short interview with me today. Please welcome Suzanne:
Hi Suzanne! I am thrilled to have you back here at Rainy Day Ramblings once again. Thanks for taking time out of your hectic schedule to do an interview for Something Wicked Rises. I appreciate you! So let's get started.
Why did you decide to self publish Pirateship Down?
Thanks for having me back! I wanted to give readers who hadn’t tried the Sentinels of New Orleans series an inexpensive way to try out my stories and writing, and I wanted to give fans of the series something new to read since it’s taking my publisher a pretty big gap between novels. So none of the stories, including the title novella, tie into the overall story arc of the series but give us some glimpses of what the characters are up to “in their own time”!
How has the process of self publishing been a good experience? Any tips or advice for anyone considering self publishing?
There was a real learning curve in terms of what has to be done, and when. I work as an editor on my day job, so I was comfortable with the editing process but I did want to hire a developmental editor and a cover artist—those were my non-negotiables. There are so many options out there! I’m not sure I know enough yet to offer advice except to do your homework and make sure your story is ready to go out there into the world. Get recommendations so you’re not “shopping blind.”
We just marked the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which plays an important part in your Sentinels of New Orleans Series. Can you tell us any real life experiences you had with the storm? Do you think you will return to New Orleans?
I’d say Hurricane Katrina was the most transformative event of my life—no competition. I left home less than 24 hours before the storm him with less than $50 in the bank, along with my 80-year-old mom, my two dogs, a friend, and her cats. I’d packed to be gone two days, with one change of clothes. I wasn’t able to go home for more than two months, and for most of that time didn’t know if I had a house to return to. I learned how little “stuff” we really need to live. I learned how important friends are, because I really leaned on mine and they supported me. I learned to trust God that all would work out in the end in whatever way it was meant to be. I learned that everything can be gone in a second, and not to take things for granted. Those are all the “lessons” DJ has had to learn in the Sentinels series, and my own experiences color every part of the themes of love and friendship and duty that run through the novels…except in a more fun way, and with a pirate!
Will I move back to New Orleans? I’m planning to retire from my day job and write full time within the next two or three years, but am not sure whether or not I’ll go back to NOLA. I went back and helped to rebuild for several years after the hurricane before getting a job offer that took me closer to family. I’ll always consider myself a New Orleanian after living there for so long, but I’m looking all over the Southeast so I’m not sure where I’ll end up. Good thing about being an author—you can do it anywhere!
(New Orleans post Katrina, click on photo for credits)
Jean Lafitte is a fan favorite. What inspired you to create his character? What do you think the real life Lafitte was like?
Jean! He was always going to be in the first book of the series, ROYAL STREET, because I wanted to pay homage to some of the most famous people of New Orleans—that book was a love letter to a city I love and almost lost. But a funny thing happened: the more I read about Jean Lafitte, the more fascinated I became with him, so I kept bringing him back in more and more scenes. When readers really responded to him, I was delighted because he’s so much fun to write.
I’ve often wondered what the real Jean Lafitte was like. He was such a smart man that he showed people what they wanted to see—he dressed like a gentleman, but he didn’t earn the loyalty of a thousand pirates and sailors by being a sweet guy. He was a shrewd and fair leader, but not an easy one. In PIRATESHIP DOWN, I have an essay about the things we know about the real Lafitte. I’m guessing he would be perfectly charming as long as you didn’t piss him off, and then he’d be lethal! Physically, the Lafitte in the books follows historical descriptions, and I’ve tried to use as many of his personality quirks as I could. He’s devious, funny, wickedly smart, and a tad narcissistic.
What are some of your favorite scenes with Jean Lafitte?
1) One of my favorites is in PIRATE’S ALLEY, when Jean takes DJ out on a walk through the frozen, snow-covered French Quarter, waiting for her to pass out. Then he carries her back to the hotel and tells everyone she has fainting goat disease. I love their dialogue together.
2) In the new novella, PIRATESHIP DOWN, I love the scene with DJ and Jean where he’s been arrested and she visits him in the Terrebonne Parish jail. He’s pretty outraged, and whenever Jean is outraged, things get funny.
3) The final scene from ELYSIAN FIELDS, when Jean commits an act of sacrifice that’s unexpected. I liked showing a different side of his personality.
(I personally loved the scene where Lafitte tells DJ some of his new colorful vocabulary he learned in prison in PIRATESHIP DOWN).
What do you want readers to know about Pirateship Down?
That the title novella is a wacky road trip involving a wizard, a merman, and an undead pirate. But there are also seven short stories that are more serious and show different sides of characters from the novels. And a few “bonus” essays. I hope it’s a fun read for urban fantasy fans.
Can you give us an idea of what we can expect from Belle Chasse in November 2016?
BELLE CHASSE picks up literally a few seconds after PIRATE’S ALLEY ends. The preternatural world is on the brink of war, and the sides are beginning to form. DJ is finding it difficult to get anywhere near New Orleans without risking her life. We get to visit Faerie for the first time. Readers get to meet DJ’s uncle Lennox and cousin Audrey. And by the end, the body count starts to rise. The stakes are getting very, very high.
What is next for you?
I just finished edits on the first book (writing as Susannah Sandlin) in a new series that starts in the spring. I’m really excited about it. The book is called WILD MAN’S BLUFF, and the series follows the cases of a group of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents (i.e., game wardens) working in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. There’s voodoo, native tribal mysticism, mystery, and murder! And romance, of course.
I’m also working on book five in the Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, also writing as Susannah Sandlin. I hope to have that one out in the spring as well.
Finally, do you have any traditions for the Halloween Season?
Not really. The last three or four years, I’ve had books due in January—as I do this year. Since my day job is at a university and we get a few weeks off during the holidays, I try to get a lot of writing done during those days. I usually have the family meals “catered” by the Honeybaked Ham store. ☺
A huge thank you to Suzanne for joining me here today!
Thanks for having me! I have two giveaways:
First, I’ll give one commenter a choice of books in theSentinels of New Orleans Series (Royal Street, River Road, Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley). International entries welcome.
Second, I have a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway to one person who preorders PIRATESHIP DOWN before its official sale date of November 2, in either digital or print. The rafflecopter entry is below; no need to show proof of purchase unless I notify you that you’ve won. Again, international entries welcome—if outside the U.S., a $50 order from Book Depository will be substituted for the Amazon gift card.
Fantastic! Two giveaways! Thank you, Suzanne, for your time and generosity!
Here is my review:
Pirateship Down: Stories from the World of the Sentinels of New Orleans by Suzanne Johnson
From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the first story collection set in the Sentinels of New Orleans world, including the all-new novella, Pirateship Down.
French pirate Jean Lafitte is tall, cobalt-eyed, broad-shouldered and immortal. What’s not to love? But New Orleans’ most esteemed member of the historical undead is headed for trouble: He’s determined to reclaim Le Diligent, his gold-laden schooner lost at sea in 1814 and recently found at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico near Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
The U.S. Coast Guard might beg to differ.
New Orleans’ wizard sentinel DJ Jaco and her merman friend Rene Delachaise can either lock Lafitte up or save him from himself, joining him on a road trip to Cajun country. Terrebonne Parish—not to mention its jail—might never be the same after the events of the all-new novella Pirateship Down.
Wizards and Cajun mermen, sexy shifters and undead French pirates. Welcome to the world of the Sentinels of New Orleans in this first collection of new and revised stories, along with a little Louisiana lagniappe.
Paperback, 225 pages
Expected publication: November 9th 2015
Four and a half stars: A fun collection of short stories that will entertain old readers, and entice new readers to the Sentinels of New Orleans Series.
What does an author do when her publisher is releasing her next book sixteen months apart? Self publish her own set of short stories of course. For fans of The Sentinels of New Orleans Series, Ms. Johnson delivers a fun, enticing and hilarious set of short stories set in the world of her Sentinels of New Orleans Series. This is the perfect way to tide yourself over until the next book releases, and if you are a big fan of Jean Lafitte (that would be me), there is a hefty dose of him in this collection. This is a must read for fans of the series, and if you haven't picked up the books yet, this is an excellent introduction. You can jump right in without having read the series and get a taste for yourself. Will you jump on board?
What I Liked:
- I loved that you can dive right in and read this without having read anything in the series. Ms. Johnson delivers a set of short stories, some only a few pages long, that introduce you to the characters and the world. She even goes so far as to provide a section where she discusses the world and the types of paranormals that live in her version of New Orleans. For a reader of the series, it was a nice refresher, and it is perfect for new readers. At the beginning of each story, Ms. Johnson tells you where each story fits into the series. Again, you don't have to have read the series to pick up this collection. Just take the plunge and have fun. Ms. Johnson will guide you through, and you will never feel lost.
- Let's talk about that sexy, funny, and mischievous, pirate or privateer, Jean Lafitte. His antics made me chuckle. Seriously, he gets into some funny scrapes, and his one liners are sure to make you smile. I especially liked when he decided to go the store and buy some cat food, mistakenly thinking that he could buy actual cat meat at the butcher counter. Sections where he wanted to know more about Burger King and new words he learned in prison, where also laugh out loud funny. This book is packed full of Jean, and if you are a huge fan of him, you will love all of the hilarity and mayhem that he delivers.
- The final story, Pirateship Down, is a novella that relates all the trouble Jean gets into along with DJ and Rene as he tries to retrieve his sunken ship. I won't go into too many spoilers, but I will tell you that Jean is exposed to an orange prison jumpsuit and colorful new vocabulary words. You have to read it for yourself.
- What I loved about this collection was that the stories were quick, simple, lighthearted and easy to read. None of them delve into the main story lines of the series, and most are just quick asides involving favorite characters. Some stories provide background history on characters while others are just quick snippets. This was easy reading, perfect for when you need something light and funny. Just read this.....
And The Not So Much:
- There were a couple of stories that I wished were a little longer, but no worries. They were still fun and entertaining.
- I have to continue to wait for almost a year until the next book! Seriously!? Now what I am going to do to get a fix of Jean?
Pirateship Down was a highly entertaining and enjoyable series for fans of The Sentinels of New Orleans Series, and even if you aren't a fan, yet, you can pick this collection up and dive in. I loved that the stories were quick, light and full of fun. I can never get enough of Jean Lafitte's antics, and this set of shorts delivered plenty of chuckling scenes with Lafitte. If you have never tried this series, this is a perfect introduction. Ms. Johnson makes sure that no one is lost. So just get it! I loved it, and I am more than eager for the next book. Big props to Ms. Johnson for self pubbing this to satiate fans between releases.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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