Louisiana Swamps, Hades, and Jill Archer’s Fiery Edge of Steel

Today, please help me welcome Jill Archer to Preternatura! Jill is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels about a post-grad magic user and her off-campus adventures. The second book, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, was released May 28, following DARK LIGHT OF DAY. Jill lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

Jill stopped by today to talk about places that inspired some of the settings in her new book (and you know how we all love our settings, especially if it involves Louisiana swamps…and those of you who’ve read River Road know all about the Mississippi River and its relationship to the Styx, or the river of Hades next to the Lethe!).

ABOUT FIERY EDGE OF STEEL:  Lucifer and his army triumphed at Armageddon, leaving humans and demons living in uncertain peace based on sacrifice and strict laws. It is up to those with mixed demon and human blood, the Host, to prevent society from falling into anarchy. Noon Onyx is the first female Host in memory to wield the destructive waning magic that is used to maintain order among the demons. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways. When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, a task which will most likely involve trying and killing the patron demon of that area, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined.

Fiery Edge of Steel: Louisiana’s Swamps and the Shallows of Halja 

Hi everyone! I figured since I was coming to Preternatura to guest blog, it might be fun to talk about how the Louisiana swamps and the Mississippi River inspired some of the settings in Fiery Edge of Steel

All during my childhood and into my college years, my dad and step-mom lived outside of New Orleans. First they lived in a small town called LaPlace and then they lived in Metairie. (They moved to Tennessee post-Katrina.) In any case, I spent a lot of time down there when I was young – every Christmas break and entire summers. It was great! The area (as many of you know) is lushly beautiful, the people are wonderfully friendly, and the food is fun and fantastic. 

I write a genre-bending fantasy series called the Noon Onyx series, which is set in a post-Apocalyptic world called Halja. But the Apocalypse has come and gone. As in, 2,000 years gone. So the series isn’t dystopian fiction. The stories center on the main character and her academic and romantic challenges. She goes to school at a place called St. Lucifer’s Law School (good ole St. Luck’s) where they teach magic users like Noon to be demon peacekeepers.

In the first book, Dark Light of Day, much of the story takes place on the campus of St. Luck’s. But I knew I didn’t want to set all future stories at the school, or even always in an urban environment. Each story focuses on a new assignment or a new adventure for Noon.

In Fiery Edge of Steel, the second book, Noon is given her first field assignment. She needs to travel to a place called the Shallows in order to investigate some mysterious disappearances there. To get to the Shallows, Noon and her investigative team take a dahabiya and sail down the largest river in Halja – the Lethe. In Greek mythology, the Lethe was one of the rivers in Hades. But Halja’s river Lethe had another real world inspiration: the Mississippi River.

As for Halja’s swampy, low lying eastern hinterlands where the Shallows is? I used Louisiana’s swamps and bayous as inspiration. It’s been a LONG time since I took a swamp tour. But I thought I’d share a picture that my husband took back before we were even married. For years when we were younger, this picture hung in our apartment. Today, we still have a fun reminder of that trip – the fridge magnet from the Honey Island Swamp Tours in Slidell. 

They’re still giving tours! http://www.honeyislandswamp.com/ 

Thanks to Suzanne for hosting me here today! It was fun sharing a bit about Fiery Edge of Steel and its settings with you!

Thanks for stopping by today, Jill! Honey Island Swamp is in St. Tammany Parish, which is north of New Orleans and is considered one of the most pristine swamp environments in the country. (If you watch “Swamp People” on the History Channel, this is where Bruce and his dog Tyler do their gator-hunting). When you drive into NOLA on I-10 from Mississippi, sometimes when the water’s high the swamp butts right up to the interstate…which can be a tad creepy! 

Have you ever been on a swamp tour or any natural-habitat tour? (There are gators!) Leave a comment to be entered for a copy of Fiery Edge of Steel!

27 thoughts on “Louisiana Swamps, Hades, and Jill Archer’s Fiery Edge of Steel

  1. Back in May Jill was here and I won a $25 gift card. Bought Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel. Both still on the TBR pile. Soon. Thanks for the interesting Swamp blog.

  2. Stopping by to say hello to everyone here at Preternatura and thanks again to Suzanne for hosting me! (I haven’t seen “Swamp People” but may have to check it out. 🙂 Another fun gator infested place we’ve been to more recently than Honey Island Swamp is Middleton Place in Charleston, SC https://www.middletonplace.org/ Guests receive gator warnings along with their room keys.)

  3. WE have a small natural habit trail in our area and it is very popular on warm days…there are rest stations etc where you can watch the ‘protected fauna’

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. I read Dark Light of Day. I am looking forward to Fiery Edge of Steel


  4. I wish I could visit LA. I also can’t wait to read Fiery Edge of Steel! Was really excited to learn that the series will be continuing 🙂 yay Jill & Noon [how do pronounce her proper name?]

  5. WE have The great Swamp wildlife refuge in NJ. I used to attend summer programs there when I was a kid. I remember spending one summer banding Canada Geese. That was back when they actually used to migrate. Now they stay here all year.

  6. I live in southern Louisiana and there are plenty of gators in our swamps. I’ve never taken a professional tour, but I’ve been fishing in most of areas down here. Have you ever eaten gator?

    • I have, Eva! Jacques-Imo’s, a restaurant on Oak St in the Carrollton area in New Orleans has alligator-shrimp cheesecake (a savory appetizer) that’s to die for. I’ve also had gator burgers and fried gator on a stick! Now….Let’s see if Jill ‘fesses up 🙂

    • I haven’t had gator, but I would definitely try it. I’ll be checking in with Suzanne for up-to-date restaurant recommendations the next time I go down!

  7. Sullivan McPig—I have to confess that gators just plain scare me. Prehistoric monsters in the modern world!

    Sounds great, Dawn! Although I don’t know when I’ll get down there again. 🙁 Was telling Suzanne a coupe of weeks ago that my husband went down for “business” but then kept texting me pictures from all the fun places he went to. 🙂 Thanks for the nice comment!

    Hi Sandy! Thanks so much for stopping by to check out my Louisiana-swamps-as-inspiration post (figured this was a great place to post that one!) I love all nature trails, so it’s ironic that I created a character who can’t really enjoy nature the way we do. Glad you’re looking forward to Fiery Edge!

    Waving hello to Aletia. 🙂 I pronounce Nouiomo as “newy” (as in phooey) + “omo” (as in Cuomo). Put LA on your list of states to visit! It’s one of my favorites. Happy to hear you’re excited to dig into Fiery Edge!

    SandyG—Thanks for the recommendation. I just looked up the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge. We’re up in NJ quite a bit, but usually just south Jersey. Will have to keep it in mind though for possible future day trip. (According to the website, only 26 miles west of Times Square. Who knew?) Thanks so much for the comment!

    Cherry—exotic, beautiful, and possibly dangerous. How could anyone resist? 😉

  8. i discovered louisina swaps thanks to your book ssuzanne after that i saw some shows on tv but no i never went on any swamp tour i guess i wouldn’t feel at easy and they are other natural envirronmental place there i would be happy to visit ( with less gators^^)

    However i can see teh interest fort a child it must be a wonderful pklace to learn and discover while playing ( my grandmother garden served teh same for me since i live in a city without any garden… so many adventures)

    thank you also for the opportunity to win a copy of teh book, since i saw the series featured here i’m planning to try it

  9. I think it was on this blog that I first heard about Dark Light of Day. I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading Fiery Edge of Steel!

    I’ve never been on a swamp tour but I did see some (extremely large) gators while I was in Costa Rica.

  10. I once took a tour of the Everglades. I like the Cypress trees. I’m scared of gators and don’t think I would like to eat it. My husband said, “It tastes like chicken.” your books looks intriguing. I’ll have to add them to Mount TBR. Thanks for the contest.

  11. I live in Central Florida and I’ve always wanted to take a swamp tour but haven’t had a chance to yet. I have gone to Gatorland and walked through their swamp area, which gives you just a taste, but I’d like to see the real thing. I’ve been meaning to read Dark Light of Day, and I think I need to step it up since there’s another book out now and it sounds fantastic too.

  12. My country has amazing lime stone hills with wonderful cave formations & underwater caverns. I sent spelunking some years back in this cave. Yeah bats (& guano) but the experience is one I’ll never forget.

  13. Hi Miki, I agree. There are all sorts of wonderful natural places to visit. Cities are great, but parks and open spaces are the best.

    Hi Faith, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed DLOD. That’s terrific. My husband spent a month in Costa Rica in college (he was a bio major) and he’s always telling me how fantastic it was and that we all should go.

    Hi Liz, I’d love to see the Everglades. That would be amazing. And I love cypress trees too. There’s just something about them. Beautiful, but creepy too.

    Hi Barbara, you could go this weekend!  Thanks for letting me know the books caught your attention.

    Hi Linda, your caves sound beautiful – and you sound adventurous! I’ve only been in big commercial caves like Luray Caverns in Virginia. I’m not that into guano (who is?) but I think bats are cute (kinda the opposite of gators :-D)

    Preternatura is a fun place to guest blog! I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Thanks for helping me to get the word out about the series!

  14. I’ve never been to a swamp, but when I was in elementary school we watched an infamous film (on a projector, no less) called Okefenoke Joe, complete with corny song, sung by Joe. My brother and sister (both younger than I) also have “fond” memories of this film. Sadly, we remember nothing about the actual swamp, lol.

  15. I lived in South Florida for 10 years, and I’ve spent plenty of time in the Everglades. Wen I went to the Univ of FL, we had several small lakes on campus, and every once in awhile, an alligator would haul itself out of a lake, much to the consternation of the students taking lunch breaks there LOL. Everyone knew not to swim in there!

  16. I have since I live in Miami,FL. I once went to the Everglades with my cousins and near a swamp saw a group of Alligator’s. We feed them bread crumb’s for a while, and then when we saw more coming we stopped. We got scared , and left . It was fun seeing them up close. We also saw a deer, which almost attacked us, but we moved out of the way and looked from a far.

  17. I do want to make it to Louisiana and tour the swamps, but I haven’t had the chance yet.

    I have been on natural habitat tours, but they are decidedly different in in the great up north. lol