Friday, August 30, 2013

Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson: Character Interview and Excerpt


Home on the Range: Interview with Alex Warin of Elysian Fields

Alex Warin generously agreed to take a break from his duties as head of the new Division of Domestic Terror (because if humans knew what walked among them they’d be terrified), put away his guns, and talk to us about the current state of affairs in New Orleans now that the borders between the city and the Beyond have fallen.


ALEX: I never said I’d put away my gun. I will put on the safety, if it makes you feel better, but it’ll slow me down if I have to shoot.


We’re doing an interview. Why would you have to shoot?


ALEX: One always should be prepared. I was a Boy Scout.


Right. So, I talked to DJ recently and I thought I’d ask you the same set of questions, and see how your answers compared.


ALEX: Does she know you’re doing this? No? (Smiles that slow, simmering, toe-curl-inducing smile.) Go for it.


What’s the hardest part of your job? Has it gotten any easier?


ALEX: Hell no. It’s getting worse and worse. I mean, back in the good old days if a prete came over from the Beyond and got out of line, I could just shoot him. Now we have to ne-GO-tiate. I hate that. DJ says she doesn’t like negotiations, but she’s pretty good at it. Don’t tell her I said so.


Why not? She’d probably like hearing you say she does her job well.


ALEX: She knows.


No, Alex, she doesn’t. You have to tell her.


ALEX: I will never understand women as long as I live.


So, you think DJ makes a good sentinel? Not many women have that job, and not many Green Congress wizards. In fact, I think she’s one of only three in the world.


ALEX: (Grins) Green Congress wizards are geeky, aren’t they? I swear, DJ would research a problem to death if someone wasn’t always trying to shoot her or bite her or drown her. Not that she doesn’t bring a lot of that on herself, but give that woman a pot of coffee and a fast Internet connection and you could lock her in a room for hours before she realized she was trapped.



The stakes are getting pretty high lately—seems like everything’s more dangerous.


ALEX: (nods slowly) Yes, and I’m thinking it’ll get worse before it’s resolved. A power struggle’s brewing and I’m not sure the people in a position to stop it have the guts to do what needs doing.


Which is….?


ALEX: Never mind.


What are you most afraid of? You don’t seem to be afraid of much, frankly.


ALEX: Physically? No. I know what I’m doing and I can take care of myself. (Frowns.) Don’t give me that look. The pink dog thing was a fluke.


Uh-huh. What about elves? They’ve beaten out zombies on DJ’s most-feared list.


ALEX: If I wouldn’t get hauled before the Interspecies Council I’d slaughter every elf I could get my hands on, starting with one in particular. Maybe two.


So what’s up with DJ and Quince Randolph?


ALEX: He’s a jackass, but honestly, I think she can handle him.


You aren’t jealous?


ALEX: Of that overgrown Ken doll? (Laughs.) No, believe me it’s not like with her and that damned pirate. When DJ says she hates the pirate, she doesn’t mean it. She likes that scheming SOB. When DJ says she hates Quince Randolph, believe me, she means it. If I were Randolph, I’d watch my step around “Dru.”


It’s been said that DJ has too many men in her life. Is that true?


ALEX:  (Rolls his eyes.) You think? I guess, in her defense, I’ll say that she tends to deal with misbehaving pretes and, just like with humans, most of the everyday criminals are men. Although a lot of the most vicious killers are women. This has proven true in the prete world. Actually, women are more vicious than men in general. Whoever called them the “fairer sex” wasn’t talking personality.


What about Jean Lafitte? He’s proving to be a valuable ally.


ALEX: (Shakes his head.) As much as I hate to admit it, he’s helped us more than once. Well, he’s helped DJ more than once. He can’t kill me without pissing her off and I can’t kill him for the same reason. Left to our own devices, we’d just have it out.


Well, actually, you can’t kill him because he’s immortal.


ALEX: So people keep reminding me. Let me have my fantasies, okay?


How about some word association…Rene Delachaise.


ALEX: Honorable. Crazy, but honorable.


Your newest DDT employee, Ken Hachette.


ALEX: (Laughs.) Overwhelmed. Poor guy.


Your cousin Jake.


ALEX: (Long pause.) You asked what scares me most? Jake does. What’s going to happen to him.


And DJ? What about her?


ALEX: Gotta go. Pretes to catch. Pirates to shoot. Outta here.

Elysian Fields
Sentinels of New Orleans Series

Book Three

Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

Date of Publication:  August 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0765333193


Number of pages: 352

Word Count: approx. 102,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi. New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans.

Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren't random--an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard.

Namely, DJ. Fighting off an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn't easy. Jake Warin's loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world's most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ's to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte's pirate wench? It could be DJ's best option.

By midafternoon, I was out of ideas and full of nervous energy that finally sent me out of doors, catching up on yard work I’d neglected all season, raking the small, crunchy leaves from the live oaks into piles a kid would love to play in.
“Need help?”
I ignored the voice and counted to ten, hoping it would go away. Instead, Quince Randolph knelt next to a tall pyramid of leaves I’d erected and took the lid off the big green trash can he’d brought with him. He began scooping up armfuls and piling them in the can. “You should compost this down. It would make a good mulch for flowerbeds. Plus you need more color in your landscaping.”
            “Whatever.” I didn’t know what mulch was, didn’t care enough to ask, and had such a brown thumb that flowers never survived my gardening efforts.
Rand wore a chocolate-brown sweater almost the same color as mine, with jeans in a similar wash. With our comparable shades of long blond hair, we resembled grown-up Bobbsey Twins, except he was prettier. Freddie and Flossie do New Orleans.
“Are you here for any particular reason?”
He squinted up at me against the soft afternoon sunlight. “I just want to get to know you better.”
Uh- huh. “Tell me what you are, and then we’ll know each other better. I’m betting elf or faery.” I was kind of betting elf— it might explain his interest in me although, thankfully, he’d never shown any inclination to plunder my brain.
He grinned. “Go to dinner with me and I might tell you.”
I noted the return of his peridot earrings. Big liar. Super-big cheater. “Where’s Eugenie? You know, your girlfriend?”
A flash of irritation spoiled his perfect features a half second before he answered. “Working. Can we—”
What ever he planned to ask, my answer would be no, but he didn’t get a chance because a clomping noise reached us from the direction of Prytania Street. Rand and I both were stricken speechless at the sight of Jean Lafitte sitting like royalty in the back of a gold and white French Quarter tourist carriage. It was being pulled by a light- gray mule wearing a hat festooned with
fake flowers and driven by a smiling guy who had no idea how many daggers his undead pirate passenger had hidden on him.
The ornate carriage rolled to a stop, and the mule flicked an ear at the passing traffic. Those animals pulled tourists around the French Quarter all day, and it would take more than an impatient Toyota driver to rattle one of them. The carriages were also ridiculously expensive if one commissioned a ride outside the Quarter.
Then again, Jean Lafitte was loaded. The driver probably had a reason to smile.
Jean exited the carriage with extraordinary grace for such a large man. He was tall, powerfully built, black-haired, cobalt-eyed, a shameless flirt, and talked with a raspy French accent that made me swoon even though he was technically dead. In other words, I had a bit of a problem with Jean Lafitte and my own common sense being present at the same time.
Jean said a few words to the carriage driver, then turned to prop his hands on his hips in a broad pirate-like stance, giving Rand a disapproving visual once-over. The mule backed up a
few awkward steps before pulling the carriage into my driveway.
God help me, I hoped Alex didn’t get home in time to see this. I’d never hear the end of it.
“Do you wish me to rid you of this intruder, Jolie?”

River Road

Sentinels of New Orleans 
Book 2
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327802

ASIN: B00842H5VI

Number of pages: 336

Word Count: approx. 92,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

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.

Royal Street
Sentinels of New Orleans 
Book One
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327796
ASIN: B006OM459U

Number of pages: 337
Word Count: approx. 94,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

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.

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.

She can be found online at her website or her daily blog, Preternatura. As Susannah Sandlin, she writes the best-selling Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series and the recent standalone, Storm Force.

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Roger said...

Thanks for the character interview, haven't seen many with Alex and he always has some interesting answers. Elysian Fields is a great read. More stories are in the works. Team D.J..

Lee Todd said...

thanks for the giveaway

SandyG265 said...

I haven't seen many interviews with Alex.

Rebe said...

I'm really intrigued by this new story arc - can't wait for the fourth book to come out!

melissa crisp said...

I love New Orleans and all kinds of crazy things go on there so I think this books gonna be good

miki said...

Let the poor man have his fantasies...but bring a pot of spiders^^ ( i can imagine rene making teh delivery for a certain privateers) let them loose and have fun^^

thank you for this interview , i really love those!

Sullivan McPig said...

Great interview :-)

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! Yeah, it's hard to pin Alex down, or at least to get him in the mood to talk. (And we'll let him pretend that pink dog thing never happened, even though we know better!)

Eva Millien said...

Love the interview, Alex, but I was wondering if it came down to it and you really had to share DJ, you know Jean Claude has to share Anita, could you do that or would you be too possessive. Thanks for sharing the interview and the giveaway. evamillien at gmail dot com

Suzanne Johnson said...

OMG. Alex is sitting here with his mouth hanging open. He's sputtering. He's stomping out. ... Something tells me Jean might go for sharing but Alex? Never! LOL. Thanks for a chuckle late on a Friday afternoon :-)

Liz S. said...

Loved the interview. I don't think DJ would do well with sharing either!

elaing8 said...

Thanks for the great character interview. I love these.

sienny said...

Haha the pink dog incident. I still laugh everytime i remember