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Showing posts by: Suzanne Johnson click to see Suzanne Johnson's profile
Tue
Aug 13 2013 11:00am

Author Suzanne Johnson on Urban Fantasy’s Grand Passion

Elysian Fields by Suzanne JohnsonAs someone who writes urban fantasy with plenty of romance flung in, author Suzanne Johnson is distinctly qualified to talk about the careful blend of romance in urban fantasy. Elysian Fields, the third book in Suzanne's Sentinels of New Orleans series, is out this week, and includes wizards, mermen, and pirates, among other fantastical creatures—and of course there's romance. Thanks for joining us, Suzanne!

Imagine Sookie without Bon Temps and Fangtasia. Mercy without wolfpack politics, fae intrigue or vampire vicissitudes in the Pacific Northwest. Rachel Morgan without Cincinnati or the Ever-After or the Hollows. Hard, yes?

Now, imagine Mercy without Adam. Sookie without Bill, Eric, Alcide, Eric, Quinn, Eric, and Sam. Or Rachel without Nick (aka the slimeball), Kisten, Marshal, Pierce, Trent, and Al.

Good worldbuilding is vital to urban fantasy, whether it’s truly urban or is set in the wilds of Arkansas or Montana. Even if it’s set in the “real” world, it’s not our world. We want complex, well-constructed worlds filled with interesting people (“people” being a relative term) and dangerous situations that our hero or heroine must escape or dominate.

[Hit us with your best shot...]

Thu
May 16 2013 3:30pm

More Than a Wolfman: Our Ever-Changing Shapeshifters

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. HamiltonOnce upon a time, there was a Big Bad Wolf. He ate grandma, remember? Terrorized poor old Red right out of her hood?

Then he got all smexied up, became either a were or a shapeshifter (because they’re different, you know—it’s that whole moon thing), and turned into a romantic hero. Big alpha males who change into a beast to defeat the bad guys and a cuddly puppy when confronted with the right woman. What’s not to love?

The first non-horror shifter I remember reading was Laurell K. Hamilton’s Richard in the Anita Blake series. Richard Zeeman was handsome, tortured, and total hotness on two legs or four…well, until he got whiny and annoying. But he had a good run of books before that happened.

Since then, werewolves have remained at the head of the were-critter/shapeshifter pack as the alphas of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but they’ve gradually had to learn to share the spotlight with some other shifters. Some are equally sexy. (I mean, who doesn’t love a big old were-tiger? Was I the only one shouting for Sookie to stick with Quinn? I think not.) Others are, well, downright bizarre.

[Do you have a favorite type of shifter?...]

Thu
Feb 7 2013 3:00pm

Urban Fantasy 101: Rice, Hamilton, Rowling and More!

Think urban fantasy is all leather-clad heroines and male sidekicks with big guns? Think again. Urban fantasy has become one of the most varied of the speculative genres. In fact, it’s no longer necessarily urban, and the fantasy elements can be light and whimsical or deep and dark. Don’t even think about delving more deeply into the world of UF until you’ve completed this core reading list.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Published in 1976 as the first in a series of novels that became known as The Vampire Chronicles, this book is more horror than urban fantasy as we think of it today. But the series laid the groundwork for modern urban fantasy, setting its immortal beings in the modern world undetected among humans—that intersection of fantasy and reality which lies at the core of urban fantasy. It also took the emotions of vampires outside the monster realm and into a territory with which human readers could sympathize.

[Normal emotions for paranormal creatures...]

Sun
Jan 27 2013 10:00am

The Sad, Lonely Bed of the Hollows’s Rachel Morgan

Ever After by Kim HarrisonUrban fantasy heroes and heroines aren’t known for their stable relationships. I mean, once you get past Cat and Bones, Mercy and Adam, and Charles and Anna, the picture gets ugly, fast. (And two of those three are from the same author, the obviously stable Patricia Briggs.)

Poor Sookie’s slept her way through half of the greater Shreveport area since the early days of bliss with Vampire Bill. Harry Dresden couldn’t find a lasting relationship if a woman were Superglued to his leather duster. And Anita Blake....do we really even want to go there? (And there, and there, and there?)

But maybe the worst love life of all belongs to Rachel Morgan, the “itchy witch” heroine of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. Rachel wants to find the right guy (she loves vampire Ivy as a friend and not the way Ivy wants), but Rachel has had buzzard’s luck when it comes to romance.

In honor of Ever After, the eleventh book in the series (out of thirteen), which has just been released, let’s have a quick, graded retrospective on Rachel’s love life.

[For all our sakes, let's hope it gets better for her!...]

Mon
Nov 26 2012 12:30pm

First Look: Cynthia Eden’s Angel in Chains (November 27, 2012)

Angel in Chains by Cynthia EdenCynthia Eden
Angel in Chains (The Fallen)
Brava / November 27 / $14.00 print, $11.99 digital

As a fallen Angel of Death, Azrael is cursed to walk the earth alone in search of redemption. One night, as he wanders the streets of New Orleans, he discovers a woman surrounded by panther shifters. No longer able to contain the anger simmering within, Az summons his dark powers and attacks, determined to protect this innocent human from certain death.

Only Jade Pierce is no delicate flower. She's spent years learning to survive and fight the evil forces sent by her ex-lover who refuses to let her go. But after seeing Az in action, she figures she could use a little supernatural help. And so she plans a course of seduction guaranteed to arouse his interest and his angelic passions. . .

First, let’s establish a simple fact: angels are hot. There’s the whole forbidden fruit thing with a hero who’s an angel. There are wings, and what’s not sexy about wings? And a fallen angel whose former job description included a killer touch—literally—and the transport of souls from the newly deceased? Angel and bad boy all tied up in a neat bow.

Cynthia Eden’s Fallen series has the hot angel thing nailed. In each of the books, an Angel of Death—Keenan, Sammael, and now Azrael—have fallen, and fallen hard.

[Fall with them...]

Wed
Oct 31 2012 9:30am

Halloween Costuming: Dress Like an Urban Fantasy Chick for Halloween

Missy image courtesy of Robert Bejil Photography via FlickrThis blog was supposed to be about how all our favorite kick-ass urban fantasy heroines wear skintight black leather while still managing to wield heavy weaponry, outrun demons, and avoid unsightly leather-sweats. It was supposed to offer a few options on quick urban fantasy heroines you could emulate for Halloween costumes that didn’t involve leather. It was supposed to poke a little gentle fun at what is a huge genre cliché.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the leather shop. I discovered that while tight leather clothing is very popular among urban fantasy cover artists, the heroines of those novels don’t wear the stuff all that often. In fact, the heroines of today’s most popular UF series can be firmly divided into the jeans crowd, the leather crowd, and Sookie.

Still looking for that Halloween costume and want to avoid leather or (worse) pleather? Try these sartorial seductresses:

Sookie Stackhouse. Never mind that it’s late October. To dress like Sookie, slather on the spray tan and pull out a nice cotton sundress and some strappy sandals. Be sure to throw a tasteful scarf in your bag to cover any unsightly fang marks, and carry a casserole to your Halloween party.

[More fashion tips ahead...]

Mon
Oct 22 2012 1:00pm
Original Story

“Chenoire”: Original Story

Suzanne Johnson

Our limited release of Suzanne Johnson’s short story CHENOIRE has ended! But don’t worry, there will be more short stories and novellas to come. Meanwhile, look for RIVER ROAD, book 2 in Suzanne Johnson's Sentinels of New Orleans series, out November 13! Plus, be sure and check out all of H&H's other great original stories in our short-story collection!

As part of H&H's 13 Days of Halloween celebration, we're showcasing original fiction of the chilling and thrilling variety written by authors, bloggers, and staffers! It's our treat to you, and it's available for a limited time only. Stories will be available for two weeks only, so read on, if you dare!

River Road by Suzanne Johnson

In anticipation of Suzanne Johnson's River Road (November 13th), the second novel in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, we bring you “Chenoire,” a short story featuring one of the delicious Delachaise brothers from River Road. Suzanne says: “[T]he story was my response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, and a portion of author proceeds from River Road will go toward spill-related remediation efforts in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, where 'Chenoire' takes place. Plaquemines Parish (where much of River Road is set) just got hammered by Hurricane Isaac, too, so that region needs a break!

The official info: a percentage of author proceeds is going to the Greater New Orleans Foundation's Oil Spill Relief Fund for relief related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill's ongoing impact on Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and lower Jefferson parishes in Louisiana.

Recovering from the loss of her twin sister, Grace Sims throws herself into her work, traveling deep into the dangerous waters of the bayou to document the impact recent oil spills have had on the native wildlife. In need of a guide, she gets more than she bargained for in Rene Delachaise.

The last thing Rene needs is to have to watch our for some city slicker, but that’s just what he’s been ordered to do by his father and clan leader. But what should have been a simple trip down the bayou suddenly turns deadly, and Rene finds himself having to reveal more than the hideouts of local fauna. A world of clans and rituals, strength and magic, weregators and mermen, and maybe even love awaits Grace, if she can survive the day...

Fri
Oct 19 2012 9:50am

The 10 Best Romances in Stephen King’s Novels: The Stand, The Shining and More!

The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and GlassWhat, you didn’t realize Stephen King, the master of horror, was a romantic at heart? I beg to differ. Some of his greatest works have featured couples, from the first blush of young love to the seasoned affection of long-term blood, um, bliss.

And what better time that Halloween to look at Stevie’s ten greatest love stories?

Susan and Roland.

Teen lovers in The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, these two give Romeo and Juliet a run for their money as they conduct a clandestine love affair, sexually christening every abandoned building in the barony of Mejis. Sadly, in the end, 14-year-old Roland rides off to save the world, leaving 16-year-old Susan to be painted like a scarecrow and burned to death by ravening villagers in the harvest bonfire. Those May-December romances never work.

Susan and Ben.

In Salem’s Lot, novelist Ben moves back to his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot and begins a romance with Susan (one of the two people who actually bought Ben’s first novel). Unfortunately, after Ben begins writing a book about an evil abandoned mansion in town, he learns it’s a vampire lair and Susan gets turned all fangy. Ben does the noble thing and stakes her through the heart. Someone named Susan must have made Mr. King very, very angry. (Remember, Stevie, the name’s Suzanne, not Susan.)

[But wait, there's more!...]

Fri
Sep 28 2012 9:30am

Bored with Bloodsuckers? Or “Fangs Forever!”?

Vase of blood imageOkay, I’ll admit it. I love vampires. I like them undead, formerly human or a different race altogether, cold and scary, or hot and sexy. They might live the life of the undead in Victorian England, rule over a palatial mountain enclave in Romania, stalk the alleys of an American metropolis, or make a cave their home. (I mean, seriously, would you throw Bones out of bed just because of the cave thing?)

Gotta say: The sparkling-in-sunlight business almost drove me away, but then JR Ward released the first book in a new vhampire series called the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and the world righted itself. In fact, the fanged had never looked better.

(Did you realize that Dark Lover, the first Black Dagger book, and Twilight came out within a month of each other? Talk about the yin and yang of vampires.)

[Bite me...]

Thu
Aug 30 2012 2:00pm

Is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake the First Urban Fantasy Hero?

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. HamiltonMore years ago than I want to admit (okay, it was eighteen) my friend Meg thrust a trio of paperback books at me. “You have to read these,” she said. “They’re about vampires.”

The books were written by an unfamiliar author—Laurell K. Hamilton—and had the ominous names of Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, and Circus of the Damned. Until this point, Meg had mostly cajoled me into reading cozy mysteries, and these books didn’t sound cozy.

They weren’t—not even close. And they blew me away, unlike anything I’d read to that point. Since that time, say what you will about whether or not the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series has veered into “vampire porn,” what we’ve come to know as urban fantasy and paranormal romance owes Anita a nod of acknowledgment.

I wasn’t convinced until a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to try and determine if Laurell K. Hamilton had, indeed, “invented” the modern urban fantasy.

[And what did you find?...]

Tue
Aug 14 2012 9:30am

Who Put That Romance in My Non-Romance Novel?

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene FrostYou put romance in my WHAT?

Imagine this scenario: Your significant other is reading a manly science fiction or epic fantasy novel when he suddenly begins to hyperventilate.

Have the aliens finally obliterated Earth? Have the dragons been rendered extinct by primitive hordes from the Kingdom of N’ai’noth?

No, he’s just come across romance—or even worse, emotion—in his novel. His pure genre has been infiltrated by relationships more than an inch deep.

God forbid.

In publishing circles, these things are called “romantic elements,” and they occur when devious authors slip bits of emotion-driven romance, sometimes entire subplots, into non-romance books, thereby tricking unsuspecting readers. The gall!

[Trick or treat?...]

Thu
Sep 29 2011 12:30pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing October Releases in Urban Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance

The Symptoms: Despite rumors to the contrary, vampires just keep rising from the dead. And so do zombies. Werewolves are dwindling in numbers, angels have all but disappeared — but there still be dragon-shifters.

The Diagnosis: Fifty-three new books in these overlapping genres come out in October — 29 in urban fantasy and horror, and 24 in paranormal romance, with vampires putting a serious bite on all the other creatures out there.

The Cure: There are lots of monsters hanging around this month, so maybe take a light approach by checking out a couple of vampire Christmas anthologies (don’t think about it too hard), two Jane Austen-as-vampire books, or the titles-so-nuts-they-have-to-be-good: The Twilight of Lake Woebegottenor Real Werewives of Vampire County.

For the full article on September’s new releases in Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, visit our sister science fiction and fantasy blog, Tor.com.

Fri
Sep 2 2011 4:42pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing September Releases in Urban Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance

The Symptoms: Urban fantasy has held the lead the last two months in the battle for dominance over paranormal romance, but the kiss ’em deadly crowd surges ahead in September despite UF’s attempt to bolster its numbers by incorporating horror.

The Diagnosis: Forty-seven new urban fantasy and horror (21) and paranormal romance (26) books weigh down the shelves in September, with vampires holding their own against lesser beings such as demons. Zombies appear to be dying out faster than they can scramble up some brains.

The Cure: Haven’t succumbed to the lure of urban fantasy or the allure of paranormal romance yet? Then settle in for some ghost stories this month. We’re on the march toward Halloween, after all.

For the full article on September’s new releases in Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, visit our sister science fiction and fantasy blog, Tor.com.

Fri
Sep 2 2011 12:39pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing September Releases in Young Adult Paranormal

The Symptoms: If you’re over eighteen, might as well toss your dentures in a cup and take a nap.

The Diagnosis: It’s a teen’s world, as evidenced by the utter publishing domination of Young Adult releases. Thirty-eight emo themselves onto the shelves this month, and that’s just the paranormals.

The Cure: You might try re-enrolling in high school wearing a wide-eyed look and a wig, glomming onto the broody new kid in class. But it’s a dangerous world out there for the 15-18-year-old set. Unless, of course, you are the broody new kid in class.

The Shattering, by Karen Healey (Sept. 5, Little, Brown)

Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she isn’tprepared for her brother’s suicide. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna’s brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, has helped her find answers. As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year’s Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

For the full article on September’s new releases in Young Adult Paranormal, visit our sister science fiction and fantasy blog, Tor.com.

Fri
Jul 1 2011 4:16pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing July Releases in Young Adult Paranormal

Fiction Affliction JulyThe Symptoms: Summertime, and the waters are filled with nubile young sirens who… wait, is this paranormal romance? Teens save the world, win the guy/girl, beat off the zombies, and protect Dr. Phil from a smokin’-hot robot babe. Geeks rule.

The Diagnosis: Twenty-one new YA paranormals take the emo route this month, with sirens, demons, angels and dragons leading the way and a vampire named Ultravox trailing behind.

The Cure: Just crank up some 1980s new wave music. The runaway bot-girl will follow Mr. Roboto and the vampire Ultravox will turn out to be a zombie techno-pop band member. Those too young to understand the pop culture reference are reading in the right category.

For the full article on July’s new releases in Young Adult Paranormal, visit our sister science fiction and fantasy blog, Tor.com.

Fri
Jun 3 2011 6:00pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing June Releases in Young Adult Paranormal

Trial by Fire, Fins are Forever, Hereafter, and Blood Red RoadThe Symptoms: It might be time for summer break to begin, but there are lots of mysterious new boys lurking around the halls during summer school, and even more girls finding how Just-How-Special they are. Not to mention the alien on the hunt for Johnny Depp.

The Diagnosis: Twenty-eight new YA paranormals take on that dystopia called high school this month, and lots of girls who learn they’re really strange new creatures—often the only one left of their kind—are having nightmares that prove prophetic.

The Cure: Girls, you could always just stay awake, which would not only fend off the nightmares but sleep deprivation makes a great excuse for those abnormal symptoms you seem to be having. And, this warning can’t be repeated often enough: Stay away from mysterious new male classmates, especially if you run into them in the woods at night. Special note to Johnny Depp: beware.

For the full article on new releases in Young Adult Paranormal, visit our sister science fiction and fantasy blog, Tor.com.

Thu
Jun 2 2011 6:07pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing June Releases in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

Chicks Kick Butt, Kitty’s Big Trouble, Hit List, and HexedThe Symptoms Chicks kick butt. ’Nuff said.

The Diagnosis Forty-one new urban fantasy (24) and paranormal romance (17) books blaze into June, including new titles from old favorites and the ever-burning question: what guys are, uh, “hangin’ out” with Anita Blake these days?

The Cure In case your summer isn’t hot enough, there are some steamy anthologies from smokin’ authors, plus Kitty the Werewolf can fix all your problems in the midnight hour and beyond.

For the full article on New Releases in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, visit our sister science fiction and fantasy blog, Tor.com.

Mon
May 2 2011 1:33pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing May Releases in Young Adult Paranormal

Ruby Red, Illusions, Shift, and DivergentThe Symptoms: May is a month for singing and dancing—well, at least for those teens not trapped in a hellish dystopia. “Glee” comes to YA paranormals this month as superpowered high school students take to the stage.

The Diagnosis: Twenty-two new YA paranormals break out in verse and song this month, including proms, costumes, and a resurgence of Shakespearean melodrama.

The Cure: Make your choice. Perform Shakespeare before a live audience (which could involve kissing your BFF’s guy), or move into the dystopian worlds where the sun never shines. Oh, or find a hot vampire guy in your school to protect you.

[You had me at “kissing”...]

Wed
Apr 27 2011 11:00am

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing May Releases in Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance

Fiction Affliction titlesThe Symptoms: Who said vampires were dead? Well, okay, they might be dead, but they’re not resting in peace. Sookie’s not the only one in Paranormaville with vampire troubles this month.

The Diagnosis: Forty-four new urban fantasy (21) and paranormal romance (23) books storm into May, including Sookie and Eric, some new Argeneaus, a Psy/Changeling or two, and lots and lots of fangs and demons.

The Cure: Uh, turtlenecks? Garlic? Holy water? They don’t work. Might as well bare that carotid and let ’em have it, or call on that Druid shapeshifter for help if he isn’t out running with his wolfhound.

[Read about May releases in urban fantasy (listed first) and paranormal romance...]

Thu
Mar 31 2011 12:00pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing April Releases in Young Adult Paranormal

New releases in young adult paranormal in April 2011

The Symptoms: Teenagers suddenly discover they are the only ones left of their kinds—kinds they didn’t know existed before their sixteenth birthdays. Now, the world rests on their hormonally challenged shoulders, which could explain the abundance of dystopian fiction these days.

The Diagnosis: Twenty-five new YA paranormals try to save humankind and various non-human species in April, including a flurry of faeries (godmothers and otherwise), some sickly shapeshifters, and at least one enclave of evil.

The Cure: Really—if your 16th birthday is coming up, leave town. Chances are, your Secret Immortal Purpose will still overtake your soul, but at least you won’t take the whole family down with you.

[Read descriptions of April YA releases...]