Southern Magic is proud to introduce Suzanne Johnson (writing as Susannah Sandlin)!
She will be at our luncheon in Hoover, Alabama November 5 with Jennifer Ashley, Hildie McQueen, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynn Raye Harris, Dianna Love and 20 plus authors.
Who are your top five authors to read?
The authors on my auto-buy list are Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Alex Bledsoe, Rick Bragg, Kim Harrison. But I read all genres and also read a lot of nonfiction. A whole lot of nonfiction.
What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
Stephen King’s The Stand. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve read that book, beginning way back when it was first released. The older I get, the more I appreciate the universal themes of good versus evil, and the nuances of the characters. It’s still probably my favorite book of all time, but Sai King (in-joke for anyone who’s read The Dark Tower series) still can’t write romance worth a crap.
Who influenced your writing the most? Why?
I cut my teeth on Stephen King, obviously, so I guess if I had to point to an early influence it would be him, as well as the poetry of Kenneth Patchen and WB Yeats. Romance readers tend to write King off as a horror writer, but he writes really intriguing characters and rich stories. (Well, and horror.) But the authors who actually got me started writing fiction were Simon R. Green and Jim Butcher, and their Nightside and Dresden series, respectively. I binge-read both series beginning-to-current back in 2008 and said, “I want to write that genre.” I found them intellectually exciting and they began churning up all kinds of ideas and possibilities that I wanted to explore. The Nightside series almost made my brain explode (that’s a good thing!).
Describe where you are the most productive when you write.
It’s not so much a place, although I do the majority of my writing in my home office, but a state of mind in which I’m most productive: under deadline. Maybe it’s because the bulk of my career has been in journalism but I thrive under deadlines; even a tight deadline doesn’t freak me out—it just makes me work harder. If I don’t have a firm deadline, I find it difficult to motivate myself and I’ll end up doing something like what I did the entire, deadline-free month of July: binge-watching “The Deadliest Catch.” All twelve seasons, twenty episodes a season. LOL. So I need a hard, tight deadline or I will dawdle around imagining life as a Bering Sea crab fisherman. Despite the fact that I get motion sickness and can’t swim.
Tells us a little about your current book?
I’m currently dawdling over the fifth book of my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, written as Susannah Sandlin, which might or might not involve Bering Sea crab fishermen. My next release, on October 18 (which I’ll have at the Southern Magic Readers Luncheon!) is BLACK DIAMOND, also as Susannah Sandlin. It’s the second in my Wilds of the Bayou romantic suspense series set deep in the heart of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. The series follows a team of wildlife enforcement agents (the law-enforcement type of game warden) as they find danger and love in the wilds of the bayou. In BLACK DIAMOND, agent Jena Sinclair gets caught up investigating a series of aggressive alligator attacks that happen at the same time a dangerous designer drug called Black Diamond is flooding the parish. There’s also a sexy reclusive man living back in the bayou, way off the grid, who’s definitely involved…but how? Book five of my Sentinels of New Orleans series, BELLE CHASSE, written as Suzanne Johnson, comes out on November 8. Nice of my publishers to set release dates three weeks apart. Not!
Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.
From BLACK DIAMOND…Both the hero and heroine are very damaged people, especially the hero, and their conversations tend to be intense. I couldn’t find one that didn’t have spoilers, so I chose this conversation between Jena and her partner, Mac. She’s planning to meet with the hero, Cole Ryan, who is living way off-grid and no one knows anything about him. He claims he has information about a drug called Black Diamond but will only talk to her. Mac is not a happy camper. I like this scene because it shows the growing friendship/partnership between Jena and Mac, who’ll be the hero of a future book in the series.
Mac waited until they were back in the truck and on their way to Gateau’s in Houma to ask her the obvious. “Why are you meeting with that Ryan guy today, and who’s your backup?”
“He left a note for me last night while I was at dinner. It was lying on the mat outside my front door.” Jena watched the passing scenery and didn’t look at Mac, which told him she was measuring her words and didn’t want her face to give anything away. “He says he has information on the Black Diamond case but he won’t talk to anyone but me. He wants to talk to me alone.”
Mac let that process for a minute. Maybe half a minute. Maybe ten seconds. “He left a note at your freaking house? How would he know where you live, Sinclair? That’s just one of a dozen reasons not to meet with him, much less alone.”
Jena gave him a brief glance. “Yeah, it bothers me too. I have an unlisted landline number. He called my cell from a pay phone, but didn’t leave a message. Instead, he drove to my house and left a note.”
“So I repeat, who’s your backup?”
“Mac, if he sees another officer there, he won’t talk. I can guarantee you that from my one conversation with him.”
He took a deep breath. She was his senior officer, but this had to be said. “Jena, there’s an easy solution to this. We call the sheriff’s office and tell them this Ryan guy could be a person of interest. Then you’re out of it. He’d never even have to know you had anything to do with it.”
She twisted in her seat to look at him, her hazel eyes serious. “No. I mean it, Mac. No. There’s something about this guy that’s on the level; I can just feel it. He’s . . . I don’t know . . . fragile.”
“Fragile? Fragile? He’s built like a solid f***ing tank, pardon my Français. He’s as fragile as a bull gator in a small bayou.”
“I don’t mean physically fragile. Obviously.” She smiled. “I mean emotionally fragile. We connected in some way the day I talked to him, and I don’t want to scare him off.”
“You are not talking to this guy alone, even if I have to park a half mile away and hide in the bushes.”
At that, she grinned. “Only if I get photos.”
He pointed at the laptop computer lying atop a pile of paperwork on the center armrest of the truck. “In the meantime, have you run a search on him? Even a simple Internet search? See if he shows up?”
“No, things have been too crazy with Jackson and . . .”
Jena pulled the computer into her lap and began to type and scroll. “Oh my God.” Her eyes widened more with each click of the keypad.
Mac almost lost control of the truck trying to crane his neck to see the screen. “Did you find him?”
She closed down the page she’d been reading and twisted the laptop back to its usual resting place. “Oh yeah, I found him, all right.”
What do you believe makes a man sexy?
A good sense of humor. Without that, it doesn’t matter how sexy they are physically. Humor makes up for most things with me, as long as it’s not humor at someone else’s expense.
Here's her short bio.
Chapter One: I am born. Oh, wait, I’m not Dickens, am I? The “boring official bio” is below [on my website]. In the unofficial bio, I am ridiculously nearsighted, have a weakness for reality shows (anyone for a marathon of “Cutthroat Kitchen?”) and am somewhat obsessive-compulsive. Well, okay, my critique partner calls me “Rain Man.” Whether writing as Suzanne Johnson or Susannah Sandlin, you can count on quirky characters and a lot of action.
Look for Suzanne at the following places.
Today's giveaway is a $15 gift card to Amazon.
Question: What is the last TV series (or Movie series) that you binge watched?