posted on April 8, 2016 by Suzanne Johnson

Swamped in the Marshy Bayou (A Misnomer)*

by Susannah Sandlin

Wild Man's CurseI’m a big fan of what I call “setting-as-character.” To really get lost in a novel, the setting has to be so richly drawn that you can feel the salt tang in the air and get itchy when the mosquitoes swarm at dusk.

Worldbuilding is, for me, just as important in a romantic suspense novel as a paranormal story set in a made-up world. So when I decided to set my new Wilds of the Bayou series in the heart of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, I knew I had some worldbuilding to do for the first book, WILD MAN’S CURSE.

I will go out on a limb and say that South Louisiana folks live in one of the most grueling, harsh environments in the United States, and nowhere is that more true than in Cajun country, the south-central part of the state. From the thick cypress swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin to the flat, fragile grasses of marsh slowing falling into the Gulf of Mexico off the southern tip of Terrebonne and LaFourche parishes, it’s hot, humid, sticky, full of dangerous wildlife, and prone to frequent, devastating floods.

Get the picture? Now, add the most culturally mixed dialect in the country—mix Cajun French with Creole, Southern, and Native American, and stir—with a heavy dose of stubborn and eccentric. Make those stubborn, eccentric people big-hearted and generous…except when they aren’t…and you have the people of South Louisiana. I love them, and I hope it shows in my books whether they’re set in my environs of New Orleans or farther southwest in Terrebonne.

The Wilds of the Bayou series follows a team of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents as they solve cases and find love deep in the heart of the most inhospitable environment of them all, Terrebonne Parish. The state’s second-largest parish (or county), Terrebonne is more than fifty percent water, with only three or four north-south roads stretching down toward the Gulf until they each run out of solid land about halfway down. After that, if you go south—or east or west—you go by boat.

Did I mention there are more alligators than people?

The hero of WILD MAN’S CURSE, Gentry Broussard, is a Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agent, which means he’s had paramilitary-style training and can handle the harsh conditions under which he often has to work. He’s also a native of the parish, having been born in Dulac. Enforcement agents are law enforcement officers, not the wildlife handlers. They have the same powers of arrest as a police officer or a state trooper—plus having to know a few hundred environmental and wildlife regulations.

So picture a slow-moving, muddy bayou in the early hours of a September morning, just after sunrise. The air is thick, and the mosquitoes are already biting. It’s already eighty degrees from beneath the overhang of trees where Gentry is hidden in his mud boat, waiting for a poacher to show up, nab an illegal gator, and get himself arrested.

Off to his left a few hundred yards, sits a weathered wooden cabin whose front half and wraparound porch sits on piers over the still water. A boat—aluminum, dented, and empty—is tied up to the edge of one of the support piers. Gentry is curious because he knows the elderly woman who lives in the cabin lives a solitary life by choice. Old Eva Savoie is said to be a voodoo practitioner, but Gentry figures he needs to check in on her anyway since he’s never before seen a boat there.

Preoccupied by the arrival of the poacher—a sullen interloper from one of the northern parishes—Gentry doesn’t get the chance to check on old Eva until the criminal is dispatched with two other agents. When he turns around, through the thickening swarms of bugs and splashes of gators and fish as the swamp heats up, he sees a face that makes his heart stop and stutter. It’s the face of his older brother, Lang.

Only problem is, Lang died in a drug raid three years earlier. Gentry knows, because he was the one to pull the trigger.

Well, I’ll leave you hanging there. Let’s just say things keep getting hotter and stickier in the bayou as WILD MAN’S CURSE progresses, hopefully with enough detail to immerse you in its setting.

Oh, and the title? Swamp, bayou, and marsh are all different types of water and terrain, and all three can be found in Terrebonne.

WILD MAN’S CURSE can be purchased in trade paperback and/or eBook format for/from:


Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne Johnson

The Unofficial Bio:
I am ridiculously nearsighted, have a weakness for reality shows (anyone for a marathon of “Ice Road Truckers?”) and am somewhat obsessive-compulsive. Well, okay, my critique partner calls me “Rain Man.” I like to color-code anything, am obsessed with the search for the perfect daily planner, and love listening to Canadian French folk music.

The “Official” Bio
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series from Tor Books: ROYAL STREET, (Book 1), RIVER ROAD (Book 2), ELYSIAN FIELDS (Book 3), and PIRATE’S ALLEY (Book 4). BELLE CHASSE (Book 5) will release on Nov. 8, 2016. She is also the author of a holiday short, CHRISTMAS IN DOGTOWN, a novella and collection of stories, PIRATESHIP DOWNTHE CONSORT, that was part of the Dark Secrets Paranormal Noir anthology.

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the multiple award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series: REDEMPTION, ABSOLUTION, OMEGA, and ALLEGIANCE, and a standalone spinoff, STORM FORCE; The Collectors romantic thriller series, LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP and DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD; and a paranormal digital short, CHENOIRE. Her new Wilds of the Bayou series with Montlake Romance begins with WILD MAN’S CURSE, releasing April 5, 2016, with book two (as yet untitled) following in late 2016.

A longtime New Orleans resident, Suzanne is a veteran journalist with more than fifty national awards in writing and editing nonfiction for higher education, including the Robert S. Sibley Award for the best university magazine in the U.S. and Canada, for the Rice University magazine. She currently works at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., and is plotting a return to the Gulf Coast within the next sixteen months.

Suzanne is an active member of Novelists Inc., Romance Writers of America, and is a member of the Southern Magic, Kiss of Death, Georgia Romance Writers, and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapters of RWA.

Suzanne Johnson Contest

Suzanne Johnson is giving away a print copy of WILD MAN'S CURSE (Wilds of the Bayou Book 1), writing as Susannah Sandlin.

Enter Here

15 thoughts on “Swamped in the Marshy Bayou (A Misnomer)*”

  1. Roger Simmons says:

    Swamp, Marsh, Bayou, don’t you just love Susanna’s humor. Want more – buy the book guys, help us all out – keep this series going, IT’S GREAT!!!

  2. miki says:

    The setting in this book is sure to win you over ( or to make you wary to switch off teh light^^) this isa fabulous romance suspense with tension, slow building romance, humour , a touch of mysticism….a MUST READ

    really don’t hesitate and buy this book you won’t regret it

    1. Thanks, Miki! Keep the lights on…and stay away from cabins in the swamps, maybe!

  3. SHELLEY S. says:


    1. Thanks Shelley–hope you have a chance to check it out!

  4. Jess1 says:

    Your title for the post is so well-done. LOL. I didn’t know that swamp, marsh and bayou were so different. RL got so busy that I’m late for your tour, but better late than never there.

    1. LOL, thanks Jess! I hate when RL gets too busy–mine’s been pretty hectic lately too! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. Linda Townsend says:

    Ooooh! hotter and stickier sounds really good! I can’t wait to read this one! I’m a huge fan of your Sentinel series!

    1. Thanks, Linda! This isn’t paranormal….well, it does have voodoo so I guess it is, in a way…but hot and sticky? Definitely!

  6. Liz S says:

    The setting in Wild Man’s Curse certainly contributes to this terrific story. Buy the book-you won’t be disappointed!

    1. Thanks, Liz–yes, this story wouldn’t have been the same on dry land. Gotta have boats in Terrebonne Parish!

  7. Janie McGaugh says:

    This would be a really tough place for me to live (I don’t do heat and humidity very well). These people must be amazing to do so. I can’t wait to read about some of these amazing people in this difficult environment.

    1. Hope you enjoy the book, Janie!

  8. bn100 says:

    fun settings

    1. Well, they’re at least fun to READ about. As Janie said, I’m not sure I’d want to live that far off the grid 🙂

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