Monday, June 09, 2014

Guest Blog by Susannah Sandlin - World (Re) Building - and Giveaway - June 9, 2014

Please welcome the fabulous Susannah Sandlin to The Qwillery. Allegiance, the 4th novel in The Penton Vampire Legacy,  is out tomorrow from Montlake Romance.

World (Re) Building
by Susannah Sandlin

Writers talk a lot about worldbuilding, especially writers of fantasy, paranormal and other speculative fiction. We spend a lot of time figuring how our paranormal world will look, what the rules will be, and what settings we’ll use. Hey, those vampires have to live somewhere, right?
       And every once in a while, after we built our worlds, we tear them back down. In my Penton Legacy series, the general worldbuilding takes place around a human pandemic vaccine that makes our blood poisonous to vampires. As you might expect, this becomes a problem as record numbers of humans get the vaccine and the vampires start getting all scrawny and hungry.
       Vampires get cranky when they’re scrawny and hungry. Suddenly, they’re on the bottom of the food chain and tensions arise between those who want to continue their old predatory ways and those who want to find a new way of doing things.
       Why, that’s a brewing war!
       But the vampires also need a physical world in which to live. So in the first book of the series (Redemption), I established the town of Penton, Alabama, as the utopian society set up by Irish-born vampire Aidan Murphy and his followers.
       There’s a real Penton, Alabama, but it’s pretty much just a crossroads, so I combined it with another nearby town, LaFayette, and my own childhood hometown of Winfield.
       I drew a map of it, deciding what buildings would go where, the perfect spot for the medical clinic (yes, even vampires need medical clinics), the places my characters’ houses would be. I gave them restaurants (for the humans, of course), a movie theater where bad vampire movies provide hours of entertainment for the real thing, a hardware store (even a vampire occasionally needs a monkey wrench), and a supermarket. Finally, I gave them residential areas and, for gothic effect, the hulk of an old closed-down cotton mill.
       It was a nifty little town, and the vampires were happy. Well, except for Aidan’s homicidal brother, the kidnapped doctor, and the political shenanigans. And I did burn down a building or two.
       In book two, Absolution, I kind of ruined some more of it. There were explosions that took out several locations. There might have been fires and beheadings and mayhem. Okay, there were probably bombs.
       So in book three, Omega, where would my beleaguered characters live? I had destroyed half their town, after all.
       Well, I moved them underground, creating an elaborate underground facility where the good vampires and their significant humans could live in harmony and hide from the bad vampires. The vampires handled it okay, but their human partners, lovers, and familiars? Not so much. They got bored. And claustrophobic. Then there was that issue with the drinking water.
       And, okay, there might have been some more fires and mayhem. There might even have been grenades. Oops.
       So when I approached writing the new book in the series, Allegiance, I had to start with a blank slate, which doesn’t usually happen in a series. The rules of the magical world and how the vampires live and feed remained the same, but they were pretty much homeless vampires.
       Vamps get cranky when they don’t have anyplace to live, especially when there’s still mayhem going on around them and their land is covered in rubble from all the previous fires and explosions and mayhem.
       The answer? Temporary quarters. Construction projects.
       Fire! Explosions! Mayhem!
       Back to square one.

What’s your favorite fictional town, and has it ever been kind of...damaged? Leave a comment to win a copy of your choice of the first three Penton books or an author swag pack. International entries welcome!

The Penton Vampire Legacy

The Penton Vampire Legacy 4
Montlake Romance, June 10, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 344 pages

British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is to find himself drawn to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end? As war and chaos rage on, love isn’t something Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?

The Penton Vampire Legacy 3
Montlake Romance, February 5, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 328 pages

The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton’s humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal’s vicious leader, Will’s capture could doom the resistance. Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father—and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will’s polished charm—and Randa’s guarded heart—finally give way to the warrior within. Fans of Susannah Sandlin’s Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.

The Penton Vampire Legacy 2
Montlake Romance, October 9, 2012
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 327 pages

2013 HOLT Medallion Award Winner

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side. To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

Absolution is the second installment of the Penton Legacy, a sensual and thrilling new series from paranormal romance novelist Susannah Sandlin.

The Penton Vampire Legacy 1
Montlake Romance, June 12, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 372 pages

The world’s vampire population is on the brink of starvation since the vaccine to treat a global pandemic rendered human blood deadly to them. Their only hope for survival is a handful of rural areas that the vaccine never breached. The tiny town of Penton, Alabama, is one such enclave, where the immortal Aidan Murphy has established a community of vampires and their willingly bonded humans. Together, they live in peace—until Aidan’s estranged brother descends upon the town and begins attacking its humans. Whether the rampage is a result of his centuries-old feud with Aidan or the civil war threatening to erupt in the vampire world matters not. All that matters is the blood. Desperate to save his adopted family, Aidan breaks one of his cardinal rules, kidnapping an unvaccinated human doctor—and unexpectedly falling in love for the first time in nearly four hundred years. Sensual and thrilling, Redemption is the first installment of what is sure to be a darkly addictive new series from paranormal romance novelist Susannah Sandlin.

About Susannah

Susannah Sandlin is a native of Winfield, Alabama, and has worked as a writer/editor in educational publishing in Alabama, Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, with two rescue dogs named after professional wrestlers (it was a phase). She has a no-longer-secret passion for Cajun music, Canadian French pop music, and reality TV. She's single and is on the hunt for a longhaul Ice Road Trucker who also hunts gators.

* ABSOLUTION, book two in the Penton Legacy series, won the Holt Medallion for paranormal romance in 2013 and was a finalist for the 2013 Prism and Gayle Wilson awards.

* Penton book three, OMEGA, was nominated by RT Book Reviews Magazine for the 2014 Reviewer's Choice Award in paranormal romance.

* STORM FORCE is a finalist for the 2014 Prism Award for dark paranormal romance.

Susannah is a member of Romance Writers of America and the following chapters: Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, Southern Magic, Georgia Romance Writers, and Kiss of Death. She also is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Novelists Inc.

As Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @SusannahSandlin

The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a copy of your choice of the first three Penton Vampire Legacy books (Redemption, Absolution or Omega) or an author swag pack from Susannah.

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on June 18, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm really looking forward to the Penton rebuilding. Can't forget that scene with Will & Randa underground with explosions in Omega. One of my favorite scenes. Tomorrow = Allegiance...WOW!!

  2. I know, Roger--it's taken forever! That was one of my favorite scenes in Omega :-)

  3. My favorite fictional type of towns are fictionalized versions of real ones.

    1. That is fun, Sandy. I sure have fun tearing up New Orleans in the Sentinels books! Penton is a real place, just muuuch smaller and, as far as I know, has no vampires.

  4. that scene with Will and Randa is definitively one of my favourite too^^ so much tension and closeness^^

    Penton is my favourite fictional town, i do love some "transformed" version of existing one but completely created and fictional: Penton win!

    1. Thanks, Miki! Penton is SORT OF a real place. There is a Penton, Alabama, in Chambers County; it's just so small that I combined it with the slightly larger town a mile away, LaFayette. Definitely no cotton mill or vampires, though!

  5. Congrats Suzanne on the new release!!! Ummm.... I like the small town that Bran lives in from the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. As far as I know it's never been damaged. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Erin! Yes, I like that town too (its name has escaped me now), although Bran kind of creeps me out sometimes. I'd rather deal with Charles!

  6. Penton was such a great town that I would love to experience. Small town where everyone knows everyone always wanted to live somewhere like that

    1. I grew up in that kind of town, Lorrie--had a population of about 2,000 and I was related to 3/4 of them :-). At the time, I couldn't wait to escape, but now I realize it was a great place to grow up.

  7. I like the Atlanta in the Kate Daniels series where magic does crazy things every day. Looking forward to reading Allegiance!

    1. Thanks, Liz! *Mumbles....I really do have to read that series.....*

  8. My favorite fictional town is Jennifer Estep's Ashland. There's been plenty of mayhem, but not too much destruction of the actual town.

    1. I've heard great things about the Gin Blanco series, Barbara. Also on my TBR pile, waiting...waiting....

  9. I like Dublin in Fever series!

    1. Ah, and yet ANOTHER series waiting for me to get to it! I didn't realize it was set in Dublin. That's cool, and different!

  10. Congratulations on the release of Allegiance! My favorite fictionalized town is New Orleans. There are so many great books set in this city. I would love to visit it someday.

    1. Thanks, Linda. There are some great books set in New Orleans; it just lends itself to it. I hope you get to visit one of these days!

  11. I'm with Sandy G265. My fav towns are fictionalized versions of read towns. AND... one of my favs is New Orleans and it has been damaged.

    1. Ah, sadly, Linda, it has indeed been damaged--and that's before DJ got her hands on it. It seems to have rebounded from Katrina until you get out into some of the neighborhoods where there are big vacant lots full of weeds where there used to be houses. Or foundations where houses used to be.

  12. My favorite fictional town is actually real, but certainly fictionalized. (Hope that makes sense. NYC has certainly been damaged time & again. It's exciting to read.

  13. Neverland is the coolest island possible. First off, this is where fairies live, these fairies sprinkle a magic dust which allows you to fly. There are pirates, mermaids and the best is that it's never been damaged.

    Raffle name: Demitra Giote

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  15. .....hmm, favorite fictional town.....all that comes to mind is Bree and Gotham.....