Urban Fantasy vs. Urban Reality

I call it the “hometown of my heart.” When I left New Orleans a couple of years ago after almost 15 years, I thought my days of crying over NOLA were done. This week, between finally watching the first episode of HBO’s “Treme” and following the massive oil spill as it heads toward Plaquemines Parish, I’ve learned that wasn’t true.

But this is a writing blog, right, and not my old No-No-Nola blog (archived here) so instead I have to think about how much reality to inject into my urban fantasy.

My second book, RIVER ROAD, which will be released by Tor sometime in 2011, takes place primarily in Plaquemines Parish: all the way from Burrwood, a ghost town near the mouth of the river, up to Venice and Port Sulphur. The climactic scene in the book takes place in Pointe a la Hache. (This is a shot in Plaqumines after Katrina.)

Urban fantasy by definition takes place in the real world. So I’m thinking before official revisions even start on RIVER ROAD, I need to address the oil spill, depending on how it plays out in terms of again ruining the area’s fragile ecology and the livelihood of its people. Two of my characters are shrimpers (well, admittedly, they’re also mermen). Are they impacted by this?

All questions to answer as this diaster unfolds. Till then, NOLA and Southeast LA. How much more devastation can you take?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

6 thoughts on “Urban Fantasy vs. Urban Reality

  1. It’s so sad to see the devastation. I can’t imagine what you feel after living there so long.

    As for you WIP, I guess it would depend on the time frame you’re looking at for your story. If you choose to add the oil spill and its effects into your story, as shrimpers, I think it would greatly affect your MCs.

  2. Living it here in New Orleans, I can say that this spill has a lot of people on edge. It’s going to be disastrous to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast and more if, as anticipated, it takes two months to cut off the flow. Apocalyptic comes to mind. It is also anticipated to have long-term effects on jobs, lives, the seafood industry, and our wetlands.
    Getting off my soapbox now. Suz, knowing a bit about your RR, the oil spill is much more dangerous than your river breaches, and it has a larger capacity for future consequences. It seems that including it, you are taking a chance of it consuming the book. I’d keep RR pre-spill. You can always do a sequel a few years down the road after we all know the results/affects. I sure do wish we had your mermen here now to cut the flow off!

  3. I’m glad most of the UF I read isn’t about the town I live in. I read to escape, and I don’t think I relax if I was reading about the place I lived.

    I would think a spill would definitely affect mermen. If not hit their direct home, in a side effect from all the damage to the wildlife.

  4. How intriguing to think about how the oil spill will affect the merfolk! That’s what I love about fantasy. Although please don’t think I’m trying to make light of the oil spill, I’m not. I think it’s downright awful and it’s such a shame that there isn’t an easy solution to removing it.

  5. I know what you mean, Nicole. I’m just brokenhearted by what’s happening in Plaquemines Parish, but it does impact my book and since I’m starting revisions on it soon, I have to be practical and watch what’s happening.

    You’re right, Beth. I couldn’t have written these books if I’d still been living in New Orleans. I started the first in the series right after I moved away. When I was there, I was too close to all the Katrina mess to put it in perspective and write about it.