Behind the Scene of River Road (& Weekly W*nners)

Today, I thought I’d go behind the scenes of River Road again, and talk about some New Orleans things that played into the book.

First, the Westbank. New Orleans is (I’m told) kind of like New York in that it’s not a single city but a conglomeration of individual neighborhoods, each with its own personality. Most of Orleans Parish (we have parishes instead of counties) lies on the “east bank” of the Mississippi River, between the river and the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. A sliver of Orleans Parish–the neighborhood of Algiers, primarily–lies on the “west bank” of the river.

The reason I put “east” and “west” in quote marks is that, in New Orleans, directions are a joke. If you ask how to get somewhere, a local will tell you it’s “toward the lake” or “toward the river.” Because of the way the river winds through the city, and depending on where you are when asking directions, the place you’re looking for could actually be north, south, east, or west. Here’s what I mean.

You can see the blue of the lake up at the top of the image, and the ribbon of Mississippi River winding through the bottom. The yellowish portion of the map is Orleans Parish and, off to the southeast, you’d be able to travel into Plaquemines Parish.

So, the phenomenon of the “east bank” and the “west bank” is not actually a local’s way of telling direction. If you look at the map, the “east bank” is everything north of the river and the “westbank” is everything south of the river.

Adding to that confusion, New Orleans is not laid out on a grid. The streets tend to wind and curve to follow the river and sometimes change names. I lived on Carondelet Street in uptown. If you followed the street all the way through the CBD (central business district) and into the Quarter, when it crossed Canal Street its name changes to Bourbon Street.

Is it any wonder people have trouble finding their way around? DJ knows the area well, but Alex has gotten lost in each of the first two books. By the time Elysian Fields rolls around he seems to have gotten the hang of NOLA directions.

So….did you win a book this week? (And if you’re waiting for books from me, I know I sound like a broken record but I’m way way way behind in my mailings. I’ve also had some books purchased from Book Depository around the holidays just flat-out go missing (waves at Eli), so I don’t know what that deal was. I spend a huge amount of money on postage and books for this blog, so I’m going to have a talk with Mr. Book Depository and find out what the problem is.

If you see your name, please email me at suzannej3523 at gmail dot com and I’ll get you in my winners list.

MARISKA won The Madman’s Daughter.

ALLISON won Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons.


Congrats to the winners!

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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).

18 thoughts on “Behind the Scene of River Road (& Weekly W*nners)

  1. It seems like all of the “old” cities in the US are hard to navigate (although nothing beats Europe). In San Francisco, it’s the hills that are the obstacle course. Some streets end before the crest of a hill, but they pick up on the other side with the same street name and you just have to know which ones don’t go through, or are so steep that you don’t want to be driving up them LOL. I used to live in the City so I know my way around, but my hubs gets endlessly confused by this.

    I know you were talking last week about how to get more exposure for the Sentinels series. River Road was reviewed (very favorably) on All Things Urban Fantasy today. That should give you a bump.

    • Yay–thanks for passing that along, Jen! They didn’t like Royal Street (I’m talking major dislike) so I was waiting to see what they’d do with River Road. I do think RR is a stronger book, so I’m glad to see it got a good review!

    • Right, I remember that review, and I have to admit that it pushed Royal Street down on my wishlist. I’m so glad I finally did read it for myself. I enjoy reading blogs, but I’ve learned to take the reviews with a grain of salt. So often, they rave about books I’m not wild about. Plus, most blogs have several reviewers these days, so they are not consistent. I often will agree only with one particular reviewer on a blog and not the others. I also ignore the ones that rave about every book they read. I mean, c’mon, if you tell me you “loved, loved, loved” every book you read, you are either lying, or you don’t have any literary taste at all.

    • Yeah, reviewing books is a subjective business. I tend not to review many books on this site anymore, and I don’t review any book I don’t honestly like because as an author I’m not in a position where I’m comfortable criticizing other authors. The trick on the real review sites, I think, is finding a reviewer whose tastes seem to match yours most of the time.

  2. Fun post, great looking street map. Someday I’ll get to New Orleans. I grew up on the Mississippi in Davenport, Iowa, part of the Quad Cities. You would be going thru Rock Island and Moline and streets turned into Avenues and Avenues turned into streets. One city had streets that ran North & South and the other city had them run East & West.

  3. I much prefer cities that aren’t laid out on a grid pattern. Grids are pretty souless while winding roads and changes of names give a place more personality and history. But I could be biased being a Londoner and London is not an easy city to navigate at all – but it does allow you to find some of the most wonderful places through getting lost or moving off the main roads slightly…

    • OMG, London! I spent a week in London a few years ago and never figured out where I was. It’s fabulous. I did learn that as long as I knew the right Tube station to get on and off at, I could eventually find my way back to my hotel, though πŸ™‚

  4. ^^ i really appreciate discover all these details.
    For the bookdepository you need to act fast, i think you have between 30 and 40 after teh shipping date ( not the order date) to tell them if didn’t receive it. before they gave you the choice of a resent or a refund ( now perhaps it’s only refund i don’t know)

    for example in my case i can’t ask before 25 days ( because it’s the time they need to wait until declare it lost)… i think but i’m not sure that after 40days it’s too late

    you need to check ( it’s for that reason it’s always better to send the info so we can check when it’s effectively shipped)… my christmas gift disappreared too but i got my refund

    • you need to give them the number of the order in the subject ( they answers really quickly usually in less than 24h)

    • I have reported a book missing after 3 months without problems. And there was no trouble at all in sending it again. I do love their helpdesk.
      Of course, nowadays it takes 3 to 5 weeks for a book to reach me. I could go and fetch them myself faster πŸ˜‰