Lynn Reynolds: In writing as two different authors, is it hard to keep the two separate?
Susannah Sandlin: I feel like a two-headed monster sometimes! When I first began writing under the name Susannah Sandlin, I tried to keep those books, which are darker and sexier, separate from the ones written as Suzanne Johnson, which have less romance in them and more humor. But it was too much to try to maintain separate websites and emails and blogs and…well, you get the idea. So I’ve pretty much consolidated everything now. I do have to stop sometimes and think about what series I’m talking about since I have three running concurrently.
Lynn: If you could put yourself into one of your books, which book would you like to be in and would you have a romantic interest?
Susannah: Oh, fun! Probably one of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy books—maybe River Road—because while there is danger afoot, it’s not quite as dark and dangerous as the world of the Penton books or in my romantic suspense series, The Collectors. I think my vampires are sexy as sin, but their world isn’t too safe right now!
Lynn: I see you like reality TV, if you could develop a show what would it be about?
Susannah: LOL. Probably the dirty politics of university life; I work at a university on my day job and what seems as if it should be a calm and stress-free environment is rife with much dirtier politics than in the preternatural world! It would be like “The Office,” only with bigger vocabulary words and more subterfuge.
Lynn: Because you write paranormal what type of research do you do in order to make it sound believable to the reader?
Susannah: I do a lot of research, which seems to surprise people. I set my paranormal books in real locations, so there’s research to make sure I have the settings right. But beyond that, there are all kinds of things. For example, in the new book, Allegiance, the hero, Cage Reynolds, was turned vampire while serving with the British Army during World War II. So I did a lot of reading about things the British Army was involved in, and to see what kind of special operatives Churchill had—quite a lot, as it turned out. I also studied a lot of psychological warfare techniques, since those are used in the plot. Since I introduced shape-shifters into the series with this book, I did quite a bit of research on golden eagles—the heroine is an eagle shifter—to find out what their personalities are like. They’re aggressive and predatory, by the way, and so is Robin.
Lynn: What do you find easier? To write the beginning or the ending of your story?
Susannah: For me, the beginning is easier. I usually have an opening scene in my head before I plot out the rest of the story. I’m a plotter, so I know how the main conflict is going to be resolved, but then where to actually end it after the big climax is always tricky.
Lynn: Is it easier to write about female or male characters?
Susannah: I have no idea why, but I find my heroes easier to write than my heroines. I think in a romance, there’s usually a dominant character among the couple, and it’s often the hero. Maybe because as women authors we know what we find sexy and appealing in a guy so it’s easier to give voice to that. My heroines, I tend to struggle with a lot more. The few that have been easy—Glory in Absolution and Robin in Allegiance are the only two I didn’t fight with the whole way—are real treats.
Lynn: If you had the chance to rewrite one of your books which would it be and what would you change?
Susannah: I would rewrite my very first book, Royal Street, to tighten up the pace of it and downplay what turned out to be more of a love triangle than I ever intended. I still love the book—it’s the book of my heart because it came out of my own experiences living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. But there was so much I didn’t know about the craft of putting together a story that I’d love a do-over on it. The heroine, DJ, has grown a lot as a character as I’ve grown as a writer…although we both still have a way to go!
Lynn: Given the chance, if you were asked to write a biography of someone living or dead who would it be and why?
Susannah: Probably the pirate Jean Lafitte, because his undead version is a character in my urban fantasy series. So I’ve read everything about him I could get my hands on, to try and get his personality right. He was absolutely fascinating and a very complex man. Of course, I’d need to talk to the undead Jean Lafitte to find out which of the stories about him are true…assuming he’d tell me the truth!
(The Penton Legacy #4)
By Susannah Sandlin
Out June 10 from Montlake Romance * British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild.
Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is to find himself drawn to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.
Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end?
As war and chaos rage on, love isn’t something Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?
Author Bio: Susannah Sandlin is a native of Winfield, Alabama, and has worked as a writer/editor in educational publishing in Alabama, Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, with two rescue dogs named after professional wrestlers (it was a phase). She has a no-longer-secret passion for Cajun music, Canadian French pop music, and reality TV. She’s single and is on the hunt for a longhaul Ice Road Trucker who also hunts gators. * She writes the Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and Collectors romantic suspense series of Montlake Romance. * ABSOLUTION, book two in the Penton Legacy series, won the Holt Medallion for paranormal romance in 2013 and was a finalist for the 2013 Prism and Gayle Wilson awards. * Penton book three, OMEGA, was nominated by RT Book Reviews Magazine for the 2014 Reviewer’s Choice Award in paranormal romance, and is a finalist for the 2014 Booksellers Best Award. * STORM FORCE is a finalist for the 2014 Prism Award for dark paranormal romance. *Susannah is a member of Romance Writers of America and the following chapters: Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, Southern Magic, Georgia Romance Writers, and Kiss of Death. She also is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Novelists Inc. * As Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for Tor Books.