Suzanne Johnson is an urban fantasy author who writes for Tor. She also has a terrific urban fantasy blog, Preternatura, where she discusses speculative fiction books, writing, and (in her latest Shop Talk series) publishing. She’s here today to talk about holidays in paranormal stories and to share a bit about her books Royal Street and River Road. She poses some fun questions about the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Anita Blake, and Cat and Bones. And she’s giving away some cool prizes. Details at the end of the post! Welcome, Suzanne!

urban fantasy, Suzanne Johnson, Royal Streeturban fantasy, Suzanne Johnson, River RoadIn my Sentinels of New Orleans series, I decided to embrace the holidays

We’ve been going through a lot of holidays the last few months—Thanksgiving, Christmas, MLK Day, St. Patrick’s, Easter….

As an author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, as well as an avid paranormal-fiction reader, I’m always interested in how (or if) holidays are treated in our favorite books.

Do the Black Dagger guys paint Easter eggs for baby Nalla? (I totally want to read that!) Does Anita Blake sit down with her 2,375 men for Thanksgiving dinner and, uh, “dessert”? Do Cat and Bones hang up Christmas stockings and fill them with silver bullets and knives?

Usually, we ignore the holidays in our books, or brush past them. But in my Sentinels of New Orleans series, I decided to embrace the holidays. Because nobody does a holiday like my favorite city. (I mean, have you heard of Naked Bike Ride Day? And did you know there was a PARADE for that? I’m still having nightmares.)

In River Road, everyone’s hunkiest shapeshifter Alex Warin decides to throw a combination Halloween party/housewarming, complete with costumes. Against her better judgment, DJ lets her loup-garou friend Jake talk her into going as Red Riding Hood to his Big Bad Wolf. The undead pirate Jean Lafitte was ready to go as himself, until he learned it was Alex’s party and he wasn’t invited. (Bah to “le petit chien.”) DJ’s friend Eugenie and her creepy, mysterious boyfriend Quince Randolph went as hippies, complete with tie-dyed clothes and Grateful Dead tunes.

In Elysian Fields (coming in August), the story picks up a couple of weeks after the end of River Road, so we get to contend with Thanksgiving. Normally, DJ might be dragged to Picayune, Mississippi, to eat turkey with Alex and Jake’s families, but things are kind of strained on that front by the time Thanksgiving arrives. DJ can’t cook, unless you count reheating pizza. So she’s made plans to spend the holiday hanging out alone in Jean Lafitte’s hotel room at the Monteleone, eating doberge cake and charging movies to his room account (he’s out of town, too). Of course plans have a way of changing…

Now I’m turning my mind toward Christmas, and what kind of chaos and shenanigans my characters could get into. I mean, the Elves are now a major species in the series, so perhaps they could help Santa…unless Santa himself is an Elf. And then there’s Twelfth Night, and Mardi Gras, Lundi Gras, and Mardi Gras…And somewhere in there, I think I need to work in Naked Bike Ride Day…

Have you found a “paranormal” holiday that you enjoyed? Leave a comment to win a copy of either Royal Street or River Road (your choice), or an “I (heart) Jean Lafitte” T-shirt!

More About Royal Street

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

Where to buy

More About River Road

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Where to buy

More About Suzanne

Suzanne Johnson
Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

Where to find Suzanne online

River Road and Royal Street Button April May 300 x 225

So, everyone, let us know what holidays you’ve enjoyed reading about. Prizes are your choice of either Royal Street or River Road or an “I (heart) Jean Lafitte” t-shirt — love it! 😀 Suzanne, thank you for guest blogging today!