Introducing Susannah Sandlin, an author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night! A longtime journalist, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch, and always fancied herself living in Cornwall, although she’s never actually been there. Details, details. She also read a lot of Stephen King – 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.
Her vampire romance series, The Penton Legacy, will begin this year through Montlake Romance. Book One, REDEMPTION, released Tuesday, June 12.
Welcome, Susannah, and congratulations on your release yesterday!
Susannah Sandlin: Thanks, Moriah!
MD: Readers can’t seem to get enough of vampires, myself included. Tell us about your brand of vampires, and what makes them stand out.
SS: My vampires follow parts of the traditional mythos (they can’t survive sunlight, they feed on human blood, there are only limited ways to kill them) with a few new twists. The biggest difference is that if a vampire engages in a blood exchange with a human, the human is bonded to that vampire and can’t be fed on by anyone else. Vampires can also bond with each other.
So when a pandemic vaccine makes human blood poisonous to vampires and the vampire world begins starving, the fact that my hero Aidan has a whole town full of unvaccinated humans bonded to him and his buddies . . . well, that doesn’t sit well with the head of the vampire council. So they send Aidan’s brother in to kill him and break up the town. Chaos ensues!
MD: Your title, “Redemption” is so interesting. I’ll venture a guess that someone in “Redemption” is in need of it – meaning somebody screwed up! Don’t spoil the surprise, but I’m curious about your take on the theme of redemption, and what it means to the characters.
SS: Redemption is an interesting theme to me because we all have things in our lives where we’d like to have a “do-over.” In this book, Aidan is emotionally scarred by something that happened many, many years ago involving his wife and son, and he thinks love is not only something he can’t have but also something he doesn’t deserve. His journey to redemption – to forgiving himself – is the story behind this book. Krys Harris has her own need of redemption in a different way. She has to weigh what society expects of her against her own feelings and learn to trust herself.
MD: What inspired you to write this book?
SS: A couple of years ago, there were a couple of big news stories that started churning around in my head. First was a global pandemic scare that had everyone scrambling for vaccines, and I wondered what would happen if some kind of vaccine changed blood chemistry enough to make human blood poisonous to vampires? How would the vampires respond? The second news story was a kidnapping case where the victim had developed Stockholm Syndrome, and I began to think about how difficult it might be for someone who really did fall in love with her kidnapper to trust those feelings. Out of those two situations, Aidan and Krys were born.
MD: I love hearing about how authors put their hearts and souls into creating their stories. Is there a character you relate most to? How does your Southern background come out in this story?
SS: There are pieces of each character that I relate to in everything I write, which is probably true of most authors. Aidan shares my tendency to overthink everything. The other vampires make fun of him because he’s such a brooder. Krys shares my tendency to be indecisive. But my Southern background comes out in the setting. I set the series in a small town in Chambers County, Alabama, that originally was built as a cotton mill town but has gradually died since the mill closed. Aidan, my master vampire, started systematically buying up all the land until he now owns the town. I grew up in a cotton mill town in rural Alabama, so I know that setting well. I know what it’s like to live in the shadow of a big, hulking mill with a mill village nearby where the poor workers scratch out a living. Currently, I live near Chambers County, which has a lot of small, isolated communities that are struggling to survive since the textile industry moved overseas.
MD: What can fans look forward to next in the series?
SS: One of my favorite characters in the whole series is Mirren Kincaid, a huge, hulking grump of a vampire who doesn’t have much use for people in general. He was a mercenary as a human, and became an executioner as a vampire . . . until something happened that made him fake his own death, team up with Aidan, and settle in Penton. The second book in the series, ABSOLUTION, is his book. Just as Aidan needs redemption, Mirren needs absolution. That book will be out Sept. 18, followed by book three, OMEGA, in mid-December.
MD: Forgive my silliness, but it’s tradition to ask: What’s your favorite dessert?
SS: That depends on what day you ask me! Today, I’m saying Doberge (pronounced dough-bosh), which I developed a taste for during many years of living in New Orleans. Think seven thin layers of white cake, a pudding-like filling between layers, and a coating of a rich fondant around the whole thing. So evil. It comes in different flavors but I have a serious weakness for caramel. The thing I’m not a huge fan of – sorry – is chocolate. Yeah, I know. Heresy!
MD: This chocolate addict is speechless. Never fear, Susannah to the rescue: