I thought I’d start up with some Easter Egg posts again and tell some of the stories behind the stories in all the different series. So this week, because I’m having a promo blitz for WILD MAN’S CURSE hoping to spur sales (talk it up if you get a chance!), I’m doing something on that book. Next week, it might be Penton or Collectors or Sentinels. You never know.
Anyway, I guess I can’t talk about the Wilds of the Bayou series without saying why I chose to write about game wardens instead of special forces or secret military units or even detectives, which are the staples of suspense.
I’ve told this story before, so forgive me if you’ve heard it already. Even though it’s been ten years…going on eleven…since Hurricane Katrina, that was a real defining point in my life and, without it, I doubt I would ever have written a single novel or that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would be on my radar.
I kept my head in the sand and ignored Katrina until the last-possible minute and finally evacuated less than twelve hours before landfall. Now, my routine with hurricanes was this: whenever a hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico, no matter how big or small, or where it was expected to go, I made two hotel reservations–one east and one west. I’d cancel them as soon as I knew where the hurricane was going or if it was a small one. For Katrina, I had reservations in Crestview, Florida, in case it went west, and in Lake Charles, west of New Orleans, near Houston, in case it went east.
I hadn’t made a contingency plan for a direct hit or a near-miss, which rendered both of my east-west choices risky. The closest hotel I could find due north was in Bossier (bo-zyer) City, just east of Shreveport and only 90 or so miles east of Dallas. I left at 4 a.m. and arrived at the hotel at 3 p.m. the next afternoon, exhausted and stressed. The hotel was spilling over with Katrina evacuees….and game wardens.
I had my dogs with me, of course, and Tanker–my 90-pound chow-retriever behemoth–was my dude magnet. So I had a chance to talk to a few of them. They were all ages, but serious and focused. They all had state-issued pickups pulling boats. As soon as Katrina moved through, one agent told me, they were heading in for search and rescue. They were worried (with good reason, as it turned out).
So everyone knows what happened to NOLA. It took a freaking WEEK for any promised aid to arrive, for water to arrive, for any help to arrive. NOPD was in shambles and had exactly one boat for a destroyed metro area of almost a million people.
Except for the U.S. Coast Guard, who sent in helicopters to pluck people off roofs, and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, who descended on New Orleans with every available boat to work long hours pulling people out of flooded houses and searching door to door for survivors. In my book, they were the heroes in a situation where heroes were few. (There were also a lot of private citizens who came in their own boats to help even when they were told not to risk it.)
So when I ran across an article about the LDWF enforcement agents a year or so ago and it piqued my interest, I began to research what kind of work they do and how an enforcement agent differs from a wildlife/conservation officer. Their training is really intense, and there are very few women agents–not because they can’t do the work but, I’m told, because there just aren’t that many women interested in it and it is still such a male-dominated field that women haven’t made many inroads. (Which is why I HAD to have a woman agent in my core unit of course!)
Here’s a recruiting video from 2015–in case you wanna join up!
I’d been wanting to do a series set up like the Penton Legacy series–with a core set of heroes and heroines and each book with multiple point-of-view characters. I wanted them to have a central love story but, like Penton, for the personalities and setting and situations to be strong. I remembered my readings on LDWF and–voila! Series!
The result was the Wilds of the Bayou, and WILD MAN’S CURSE was the first in the series. In October, with Jena’s story, will be BLACK DIAMOND (coming October 18 but up for preorder). If the two books do well enough for the series to continue, agents MAC and PAUL would have the next two books. I reaaaallllly want to write their books (especially Paul, who has captured my interest big-time), so keep your fingers crossed the series picks up!
In the meantime, progress on ILLUMINATION continues–I think this book is going to be a beast–and now I have to go into final proofs on BLACK DIAMOND and make Jena tie her hair back because female LEOs can’t wear their hair down and make a new agent, EZ, have his tattoos removed because LDWF doesn’t allow it’s agents to have facial hair OR tattoos. Jeez.
So, if you’ve read WILD MAN’S CURSE, did you have a favorite character or scene? Whose story would you like to see after Jena’s?