Welcome to my world, where magic lies hidden behind the layers of everyday life, where wizards guard the barriers between modern New Orleans and the world Beyond. Except, of course, when something slips through.
That’s the world behind Royal Street, the first in my new urban fantasy series that will be released in April 2012 by Tor Books.
And that’s the world behind Chenoire, an original novelette set in the world of Royal Street–a world into which a young biologist enters with no other ambition than to rent a boat for the day.
Welcome to St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, where all is not as it seems.
If you like Chenoire, I hope you’ll let me know! (Yeah, okay, if you don’t like it you can let me know that as well.)
by Suzanne Johnson
The man outside Baronne Boat Rentals in Delacroix, Louisiana, aimed a mouthful of mahogany-hued tobacco juice in the vicinity of Grace Sims’ left foot. Joe Michoux was weather-beaten, wrinkled, and thinning on top, but his blue eyes pierced like razor wire. “You come from up north for dat reality show? ’Cause I ain’t got no boats. Gotta call ahead if you want a boat.”
Grace took a deep breath and exaggerated her accent until it sounded as if she’d walked off the set of Gone with the Wind. “Mr. Michoux, I called last week and reserved a boat. Remember? The ornithologist from Auburn University?”
His brow wrinkled.
“I study birds.”
At least she used to, before everything fell apart. She’d spend hours examining the delicate structure of a feather, the way light reflected off its vanes and shaft to deepen or enhance its color, or how the bird’s diet affected the pigments in its beak and feet.
Joe squinted at her. “You done paid for it?”
“No, but you said come by and you’d have one for me. Grace Sims.” She’d always heard gritting your teeth was unhealthy. Sometimes it was called for.
“It’s gator season–all the boats been rented.” Joe shuffled off the pier and back inside Baronne headquarters, a one-room wooden rectangle painted an eye-gouging shade of yellow.
Scientists had been thick as mosquitoes in Louisiana since the oil spill, which is why she’d planned ahead, for all the good it had done. Boats came at a premium these days, and while she’d never really thought about how one might go about hunting an alligator, apparently it involved boats.
Grace didn’t buy the boatless song-and-dance. She’d seen two perfectly good skiffs tied to the pier, and she intended to get one.