I have a lot of species that populate the multiverse of the Sentinels of New Orleans series. There are the non-shifting species like wizards, faeries, elves, vampires, and the historical undead (famous humans granted immortality through the magic of human memory).
There are also quite a few werecreatures and true shifters, who can change at will and are born, not made.
Among the most common shifters are the water species—the largest group being the merfolk, who are largely of Cajun descent and work in the commercial fishing industry in addition to being able to shift partially into classic merman and mermaid form, or fully shift into large fresh- or salt-water dolphins.
Then there are the werecritters, primarily werewolves and loup-garou, a Louisiana legend come to life in the form of a cursed werewolf who doesn’t have the self-control or desire to be part of a pack structure. They follow the phases of the moon with their shifts, and their shifts are not painless or fast.
There are also some less-common were-animals. Weregators, for example, are common in South Louisiana, and I’ve heard rumors that there are wereboars. I’m looking to introduce some new shifters into the world for upcoming books and stories.
What the Sentinels world does not have in it, however, are Sheep-Shifters, although I have given it full consideration as I indulged in my hobby of mixed-media artwork, which I’ve sent along for your amusement.
Here’s why I don’t think Sheep-Shifters would survive in my world:
1) They’re very wooly. The events of PIRATE’S ALLEY notwithstanding, the New Orleans climate is not wool-friendly.
2) They have wooly backs. Due to the fact that few women (or men, for that matter) find hairy backs attractive, Sheep-Shifters could never take the romantic lead in a novel. Oh, I know that Anita Blake did that thing with the swan and the wererat but...no. Just no.
3) They have the potential to tempt me with the overuse of baaaaad puns. Ewe-phemistically speaking, of course.
4) They are prey. Sorry, but “Oh my God, I’m being chased by a fire-breathing herd of Sheep-Shifters” has been screamed by a potential victim—never. The loup-garou alone would have them eaten and the wool picked out of their teeth before the weregators even got to the shearing party. It would be akin to genocide.
5) They are, my apologies, not that smart. And it’s a big, bad preternatural world out there we want to keep hidden from humans. Given sheep’s flocking tendencies, an entire table of diners shifting into sheep in a restaurant at the sight of a lamb entree going past on a platter would be disastrous.
And so, with my apologies, I must decline the requests to add Sheep-Shifters to the Sentinels of New Orlans world. Other types of weres or shifters, however? Ideas welcome!
Pirate’s Alley (Sentinels of New Orleans Book 4)
by Suzanne Johnson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Date of Publication: April 21, 2015
Number of pages: 352
Word Count: 96,000
From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the fourth book in the smart and sexy Sentinels of New Orleans series.
Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.
Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal. Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back.
And that's before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest "death," returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ's assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.
Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.
War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won't be that easy.
Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction 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.
Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.
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