Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
Most authors get that question a lot, and usually, our answer is a blank stare because the real answer is not only complicated, but hard to put into words. Which, if you think about it, is ironic coming from people who use lots of words for a living.
For me, ideas for books (or, in the case of “Chenoire,” stories) come from a hodgepodge of useless trivia we have stored in our heads that somehow coalesces into an idea.
For “Chenoire,” I can trace my story idea back to getting lost, watching yet another disaster strike an area I love, and a nonfiction feature article I wrote about bird feathers.
The story takes place in an imaginary crossroads community near Delacroix, Louisiana, in St. Bernard Parish, sandwiched between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a vivid spot for me because I once got lost in St. Bernard trying to find a bakery. I ended up on a barely-there road on a desolate piece of land surrounded by water, near a closed-down bar with the appropriate name of “The End of the World.”
Once I found my way back to civilization, it turned into a grand adventure, of course, but I always wonder about the hearty souls who make their homes in that little corner of the state, in a parish that’s seventy-six percent water, mostly brackish marsh, bayous, and wetlands.
My unintended trip to Delacroix stuck with me years later, when I began to think about the story that would become “Chenoire.”
By that time, the parish had gone through yet another disaster. The first one happened back in 1927, when torrential rains in the Midwest sent a badly swollen Mississippi River hurling toward New Orleans with tons of floodwater. There were a lot more rich, important people living in New Orleans than in the poor fishing towns of St. Bernard, so the state decided it was time for a sacrifice. Promising the St. Bernard people they’d pay them for their losses, officials set off explosives on the river levees in the parish, letting St. Bernard go underwater to relieve pressure on the river and spare New Orleans. Then they never paid.
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, St. Bernard was, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. Every building was damaged, if it wasn’t gone altogether. Every person was homeless. Every school, every hospital, just gone. It took time and patience and faith to rebuild, but they’d finally gotten back on their feet when the BP Oil Spill occurred in the Gulf and sent the Louisiana fishing industry into a tailspin.
And that was when I began writing “Chenoire,” sending my character Faith, a biologist, into St. Bernard Parish to study some of the effects of the oil spill on the fragile ecosystem of Southeastern Louisiana.
Faith’s specialty came from an article I’d recently written for my day job about bird feathers. Did you know that what a bird eats impacts the color of its feathers, beak, and feet? It was news to me! One of the reason pink flamingoes are pink is because they eat a lot of shrimp. Feathers are mostly protein, and one can even feed birds certain types of food and influence their color.
(It’s not all food-based, of course. There’s species and gender to consider. Male birds are usually more brightly colored than females; females need to blend in with their surroundings to protect their nests, and males need bright features to preen for the females in order to attract a mate.)
Anyway, how the oil spill, the bird feathers, and getting lost in St. Bernard all came together in the story of “Chenoire”? That, I’m afraid is a mystery of synapses and brain short-circuitry. And, of course, my unhealthy fascination with alligators!
About The Book:
Chenoire by Susannah Sandlin
Genre: urban fantasy
When Faith Garrity’s twin sister died, she lost a part of herself. Unable to move past the pain, the once-driven ornithologist is at risk of losing her career as well. To save her job, she heads to the oil-ravaged wetlands of Louisiana. There, in the bayou community of Chenoire, she encounters the handsome but guarded Zackary Préjean, still suffering from a great loss of his own.Source: Info in the About Chenoire was from the press kit from the publicity team.
She’s drawn to Zack, but soon finds that the Préjean family isn’t what it seems… They have dangerous secrets—and deadly enemies. Caught up in a feud that threatens the area’s uneasy truce, Faith and Zack must learn to trust each other. Survival will require enormous sacrifice, but it just might also give them both a way to move on.
Meet The Author:
Susannah Sandlin writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, and a new romantic thriller beginning this month with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series.
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