Please give Susannah Sandlin a warm welcome! She’s here to chat about Storm Force, her new paranormal romance. This will be released in serial format by Montlake Romance. After the interview, I have one serial subscription to give to one of you. Check back later today to read my review of Episode 1, too!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Susannah Sandlin] Obsessive workaholic, hopeless romantic, eccentrically Southern, music-loving, sleep-deprived, deadline-driven, dog-owning, reality-TV junkie.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Storm Force?
[Susannah Sandlin] It’s a blend of paranormal romance and thriller-suspense involving the Omega Force, a quasi-military black ops team who handles cases of domestic terrorism. The team is half Army Rangers and half shapeshifters—an eagle shifter and two black jaguar shifter brothers. In Storm Force, what looks like an act of eco-terrorism in Houston brings on the team, and team leader Jack Kellison soon learns the chief suspect, an environmental activist named Mori, is a lot more than she seems. There are bombs, romance, dark secrets, romance, kidnappings, romance—and a hurricane. Lots of tension; lots of humor.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Susannah Sandlin] When I was finishing the third book in my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, Omega, I came up with the idea of this combined human-paranormal team that could be used as a top-secret special operations unit with shadowy ties to the military. The Penton books are vampire romances, though, so I wanted to expand beyond the vampire world and also really jack up the thriller/suspense aspects of the story. I like thrillers, and I like paranormal romance, so it seemed as if it would be a fun project to combine the two. The Penton books had a strong element of suspense in them as well, but not as high-octane as Storm Force. The characters…I never really know where my characters come from. I knew I wanted six team members and that three would be human Army Rangers and three would be shapeshifters. I developed Kell and Mori, the hero and heroine, first, and then developed the surrounding cast. As usual, I fell in love with my secondary characters as well!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Mori?
[Susannah Sandlin] Dedicated. Independent. Desperate.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Kell had a theme song, what would it be?
[Susannah Sandlin] Kell’s theme song is actually mentioned in the book. It’s a song by a Texas singer-songwriter named Slaid Cleaves, called “Borderline.” The song itself is about an illegal immigrant from Mexico desperately trying to provide for his family, but it’s the chorus that makes it Kell’s theme song, because as he falls in love with Mori and becomes more desperate to help her out of this huge mess she’s in, he finds himself crossing lines he never thought he would. The chorus is: “When love for family is stronger than fear, when desperation sets in, a man will cross any line that is drawn, and who’s to say it’s a sin?” That chorus gives me chills, because we all find our limits tested as we go through life—although hopefully not in such an extreme way as Kell!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Mori is never without.
[Susannah Sandlin] LOL. Her backpack. As I was writing the book, I kept forgetting it, then having to go back through several chapters to see where she left it last. It has a couple of items in it that really don’t need to fall into the wrong hands, so she really needs to keep up with it better.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kell’s bedroom?
[Susannah Sandlin] Anything frilly or pink. A cat (he has a Catahoula hound named Gator). A ferry pass from Galveston, Texas, to the Bolivar Peninsula (bad memories).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Mori’s greatest regret?
[Susannah Sandlin] That she was made a pawn in an act that resulted in the deaths of a lot of people. She’d never intentionally hurt anyone, but because of inaction and bad decisions and fear, a lot of people suffered.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Susannah Sandlin] Music. I draw a lot of ideas from lyrics or moods or stories told in the songs I love, like the chorus lyrics from “Borderline.” I also have my “idea generating” magazines: Discover, National Geographic, Mental Floss, Smithsonian. I tuck away bits of trivia that can later germinate into ideas for characters or stories or situations.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Susannah Sandlin] A deadline—probably my journalism background, but if I don’t have a deadline I will piddle around and get nothing done. A decent block of time—at least an hour, but preferably three or four. And my laptop. I can write anywhere if I have those three things.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Susannah Sandlin] Okay, it’s a bit of a strange one, I guess, but it’s a book that’s coming out in the U.S. in a couple of weeks called APOCALYPSE COW, by Michael Logan. It’s a satire on all the zombie apocalypse books, wherein a government experiment goes horribly wrong and there’s an uprising of flesh-eating zombie cows in Scotland. Really, really funny. At least once on every second or third page, I’d literally laugh out loud.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Susannah Sandlin] When I was a kid, I was so obsessed with Heidi that I wanted to drink milk out of a bowl…and I didn’t like milk (still don’t). But the one that hooked me into becoming an obsessive reader was probably Penmarric by Susan Howatch. I ended up reading all of her books. They’re big, sprawling, multi-generational gothic stories.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Susannah Sandlin] I do have this no-longer-secret affinity for reality-TV shows. I keep up a really strict writing regimen since I also have a day job, so I DVR them and watch them when I have a few minutes to spare. Sometimes, there are no minutes, which is why I have the entire last season of “Swamp People” I haven’t watched yet.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Susannah Sandlin] I’m reachable by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: www.facebook.com/susannahsandlin. My website: www.susannahsandlin.com. Twitter: @SusannahSandlin. I also write urban fantasy under the name Suzanne Johnson and have a daily book blog, Preternatura: Suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
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Omega Force #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: March 19, 2013, in serial form for Kindle; July 9, 2013, in print, digital, and audio.
Word Count: approx. 90,000
As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.
Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?
Kell spotted the bird as soon as its wingtips cleared the edge of the cypress stand at the eastern rim of Bayou Cote Blanche. For a moment, he indulged a hope it might be a hawk in search of fish, or a pelican, or a cormorant, or a fucking giant mutant hummingbird.
Anything but an eagle.
“It’s her.” At the sound of his voice, Gator raised his spotted head and focused sharp, mismatched eyes on the horizon, barking furiously in his Catahoula big-dog voice, usually reserved for alligators and swamp rats.
Kell had been sitting on the porch of his cabin at Cote Blanche since Nik’s phone call from New Orleans two hours ago, waiting to see who’d arrive first—the man or the bird.
Should’ve known it would be the freakazoid eagle with the deceptively sweet name of Robin. He’d come to think of her as Razorblade Robin. Nik would have to rent a boat in Jeanerette and navigate the serpentine waterways of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Swamp to get here. Razorblade Robin could just sprout feathers and soar.
The midday sun glinted off the glossy reddish-brown wings of the golden eagle as it swooped over the smooth, murky water of the bayou and landed with a harsh caw at the end of his dock. Gator rose to his feet and looked up at Kell, asking permission to chase.
“Sorry, buddy. You don’t want to mess with that one. She can take you.” Hell, she could take both of them.
Kell took a final look at the pile of papers he’d been reading—notes about his team’s new assignment. Mostly, he’d been studying the photo on top of the stack. The woman, Emory Chastaine, an environmental activist well known in tree-hugger circles, had been photographed from a distance with a telephoto lens that gave the image a grainy feel, made worse by his generator-powered printer. But he could tell she was tall, athletic-looking in a t-shirt and jeans, shoulder-length blond hair, pretty in an all-American kind of way.
Not his image of a terrorist. Which made her even more dangerous.
Gator sprang off the porch as the eagle strutted down the dock toward them. He approached the bird in a crouch, his growls echoing off the still water. Damn dog never did listen worth a flip. Kell leaned back in his chair to watch the show. With a screech and a blur of feathers seconds before Gator reached her, the eagle morphed into a petite, waifish brunette.
Make that a naked, waifish brunette with a snark-tastic attitude who arched an eyebrow when Kell’s vicious watchdog turn into a slobbering, tail-wagging fool, jumping up and down so vigorously his black and white spots seemed to blur. You’d think the hound saw birds turn into people every day.
If Gator went the crotch-sniffing route, Kell might have to die of pure humiliation.
Not like the naked bird-woman came as any big surprise. He reached for the t-shirt he’d thrown across the other porch chair and tossed it to her as she approached, Gator dancing around her legs. “Put this on.”
Robin Ashton, five-foot-nothing of shapeshifter and the tracker for Kell’s new Omega Force team, caught the shirt and used it to wipe the sweat off her face. “It’s like a sauna out here. Pretty, though, if you’re into the primordial.”
She turned to study the bayou, a minor niche in the massive Atchafalaya basin, and Kell made it a point to keep his eyes away from her ass. It wasn’t that he wanted to look at it, exactly, but he was a guy, and it was right in front of him.
About the Author:
Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.
Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612183541
Storm Force Release Schedule
Storm Force is being released as a serial, so the entire book will not be available until after July 9
The first episode is being released on Amazon March 19.
For $1.99 people can buy the book and get new episodes every two weeks between March 19 and July 9 at no extra cost.
The price will go up on July 9 when it’s released as a full length novel in digital, print, and audio formats
This is the Storm Force episode release schedule:
March 19–episode 1
March 26–episode 2
April 2–episode 3
April 9–episode 4
April 16–episode 5
April 23–episode 6
April 30–episode 7
May 7–episode 8
May 14–episode 9
The release date for the complete book is July 9.