Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Blog & Giveaway: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

UFI welcomes Suzanne Johnson Author of The Sentinels of New Orleans Series. Thanks for Joining us!!
 


Twisting the Myth: Werewolves and Loup-Garou

I remember hearing the term loup-garou not long after moving to Louisiana. It’s French for “werewolf,” of course, and South Louisiana once belonged to France. So the legends of the loup-garou (also called “rougarou” or “roux-ga-roux”) date back to the land’s settlement.

Much of my fiction is heavily tied to South Louisiana culture, so I’ve had fun playing around with the loup-garou legends. In a digital short called Christmas in Dogtown, I used the most common “rougarou” tales heard around Acadiana (south-central Louisiana, where the Acadians, aka, Cajuns settled). To the old timers, the rougarou is a monster that livese in the swamps. Sometimes he’s seen as a white dog; sometimes a black bear; sometimes a wolf. 

Sometimes the rougarou only partially shifts, and has the body of a man but the head of a wolf or dog. While the rougarou is used to threaten kids to behave, his nature isn’t clear—in some versions of the legend he’s evil; in others, he might show up as a warning or a benign creature.

In some of the legends, becoming loup-garou (which is a curse brought on by having your blood consumed by a loup-garou) isn’t a life sentence but lasts 101 days as long as the cursed person doesn’t speak of it to anyone. In other legends, the rougarou is turned by a witch’s curse. 

For my Sentinels of New Orleans series, I decided to twist the loup-garou legend to tie it even more firmly to Louisiana culture. I didn’t want my garou to be an ordinary, garden-variety werewolf. Bor-ing! 

So my loup-garou came to Louisiana with the Acadians when they were driven out of Canada by the English in the 1700s and settled in the remote French colony of Louisiana. He (or she) carries a virus that is a demon’s curse and can be easily passed to a human through an open wound. My loup-garou is, like a werewolf, affected by the moon cycles, but shifts more easily. He has less control over his wolf, is a rogue that avoids packs and social structures, is always an alpha, and is bigger than your average wolf. He has a deep red coat and golden eyes. 

How evil is my version of the loup-garou? He’s not innately bad, but he’s very other. It isn’t yet clear in the books how much the human mind stays in control once the wolf takes over the body, but the Louisiana rougarou legend is of a creature who retains his human ability to think and reason, only with perhaps less inclination to do good. Which means anyone who comes across his path at the wrong time, or angers him, or makes him lose control…well, that person might be in trouble. 

Um…did I mention that one of my major series characters is a loup-garou, and a newly turned one at that? He’s not handling it well and it’s something he and my other characters are going to have to deal with for quite a while, which means lots of interesting twists and turns ahead.

One of the things I most love about writing paranormal fiction is the ability to take a common mythology—a vampire or a werewolf or, in River Road, a merperson—and twist it to create a fresh look at an old convention. Who’s your favorite werewolf? What do you most like about him?
 
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Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis' birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

Find Suzanne and her books
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River Road
Sentinels of New Orleans #2


 
 Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.
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29 comments:

  1. Thanks for the giveaway!
    Louisiana is such a good setting for paranormal stories.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kirsten! You're right--Louisiana is a natural for paranormals...and it's a fun place to live, too!

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  2. I didn't really now much about the difference between the normal werewolf and the Louisiana legends. LOVE this post - and it's so cool to see how different lore emerges.

    Your unique version is awesome:)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

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    1. Forgot to tell you! I really loved Andrea Cremer's werewolves and the legends she created:)

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    2. Thanks, Christina! I haven't read the Andrea Cremer series, but they're in my TBR pile :-)

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  3. Christmas in Dogtown is one of my favorite short stories. The loup-garou is a very different legend as are the merpeople. River Road is a great book. Thanks for the background post.

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    1. Thanks, Roger! It was fun twisting the twist for the "rougarou" between River Road and Christmas in Dogtown :-)

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  4. I do not think I have ever read a book about werewolf's but think I will have to now. I am new to the Paranormal genre and love vampires so far though. Thanks for the amazing giveaway and congratulations on the release.

    Happy Holidays,
    Marlena
    charmedpoms(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Marlena! If you love vampires, there are so many good series...but give the wolves a chance, too :-)

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  5. I enjoyed Royal Street in part because the setting was unusual to me. Yes, I've read other urban fantasy set in New Orleans, but the whole post Katrina thing added a new dimension to the series for me.

    Favorite werewolf? Adam Hauptman from The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Probably because she writes them with some wolf characteristics while in human form, because surely they would meld somehow and the character's unconditional love for Mercy.

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    1. Oh, I LOVE Adam! He's so grouchy and alpha and Mercy knows just how to handle him :-). I also think Patricia Briggs makes good use of her Pacific Northwest setting.

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  6. I like books with different types of shifters

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    1. It has been fun to play around with all the shifters, Sandy!

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  7. I enjoyed learning this thank you a lot!
    and of course i highly recommend this book!!

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  8. Interesting stuff! I prefer werewolves over vampires, of course. I've gotta say Lupin from Harry Potter is one of my favourites.

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    1. Remus Lupin was always one of my favorite HP characters, too. So I HATED that part of the ending.

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  9. Hmmm.. I like the wolves from Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series. They're very much a pack, a rather big dysfunctional family. :)

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    1. I have heard so much about that series, but haven't read it. I think I need to!

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  10. I keep up with a few werewolf series including Mercy Thompson, Alpha & Omega, Granite Lake... Always room for one more.

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  11. Great post,enjoyed reading it. Favorite werewolf...hmm.there's lots to pick from.Mine would be half werewolf/half vampire Riley Jensen from Keri Arthur's books.You said he but she's such a kick ass heroine I had to pick her.

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  12. There are a lot of wonderful werewolves out there, and besides Keri Arthur's Riley Jenson, I'd say Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville is one of my favorites.

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  13. I know what character is dealing with loup garou :) My favorite werewolf hmmm...I don't read a lot with them but there was a book by Michele Hauf..in her beautiful creatures series. I don't remember his name though..he was pretty hot...I also like jacob from twilight...only because I just saw breaking dawn recently ;)
    Tanyaw1224(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  14. Thanks for the info I love were and rougarou sounds better to me. Have you watched the cop show set in LA. There is one that a lady swears a rougarou broke into her barn.

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  15. Great post. Thanks for sharing!!

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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  16. hi suzanne! great post! it also make reading a PNR/UF book such a fun experience, the twist in myth and other add-ons in the story

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  17. I enjoyed reading the legend. I didn't know that. Very interesting.

    Larena

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  18. I am learning so much about the culture and the loup-garou! The research sounds interesting.

    Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  19. Awesome, would love to read.
    wcarie3ATgmailDOTcom

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