Royal Street Annotated–New Chapters are Up!

First, I’m pleased to say that Royal Street will be published in print in the UK in September by Headline Publishing Group. River Road, book two in the series, will release about the same time as it does in the U.S., in November. There will be new covers for the UK print editions, so I’ll show those to you as soon as they’re ready!

On Wednesdays, I’m doing annotations for Royal Street by chapter (for past chapters, click on the Easter Eggs tab). Now that we’re out of the first five setup chapters, there will be fewer annotations, so I’ll try to cover more than one chapter a week.


In the Sentinels world, hydromancy or scrying–a form of divination–is an elven skill, so most wizards can’t do it. DJ can, since there are elves in her family tree…in itself unusual because elves rarely mate outside their own clans, much less their species. Hydromancy works different ways in different fictional worlds. In the Sentinels series, it’s an inexact science. It can be done with the use of a charm, or–to make it more powerful–using something belonging to the person being scried. DJ uses it after Hurricane Katrina to try and find Gerry. She also uses it in River Road and in book three, Elysian Fields.

This use of hydromancy in chapter five offers an early look at DJ’s character. To me, her greatest strength is also her greatest weakness. She is loyal often past all reason, and she will simply not give up when someone she cares about is in trouble, even if it means breaking a few rules and maybe even when the person doesn’t deserve her loyalty. Sure, it gives her a few “too stupid to live” moments when she follows her heart rather than her head, but that’s who she is.

This chapter takes place on Tuesday, August 30, the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that Katrina didn’t make a direct hit on New Orleans. I had friends who rode out the storm in the city, and they were out walking around in their yards on Monday afternoon after the worst of the storm had blown through, picking up limbs. My neighbors across the street even got on their bikes and dodged power lines and tree limbs and rode toward downtown in early evening….and began to run into pockets of water that got deeper as they approached central city. By the next morning, Tuesday, 80 percent of the city was underwater. The levees broke well after the storm came through–high tide–much higher than usual because of the hurricane, pushed Lake Pontchartrain into the drainage canals through the city, and the levees collapsed under the pressure. So by the time DJ uses hydromancy to find Gerry on Tuesday afternoon, his house near the 17th Street Canal would have been under as much as twelve feet of water.

The killing of National Guardsmen in the city after the storm was not factually based. That was just setup for this story.


DJ is an empath, but I needed some way for her to control it so that she didn’t get overwhelmed by it. The idea of the “mojo bag” came up in a conversation with one of my crit partners as we brainstormed about ways she could do this.

Adrian Hoffman is the “Speaker of the Elders.” We’re not sure at this point in the story whether he’s actually one of the Elders or just a mouthpiece, a guy who answers the phone. He clearly has some ability to make decisions on behalf of the Elders. Adrian doesn’t play a big role in Royal Street, but he does pick up import as the series progresses, so you might make note of him. If I had to cast a movie of Royal Street, I’d put Montel Williams in the role of Adrian Hoffman. Except with a LOT of snark.

DJ had a legitimate concern about how to get back into New Orleans in mid-September. The mandatory evacuation of the city for her part of town wasn’t lifted until mid-October. The city was repopulated by zip code, and DJ lives in the 70118 zip code; I lived in the 70115 zip code and my area was reopened at the same time–it was, after the French Quarter, one of the first areas to reopen because it had drained of water, mostly, and the streets had been cleared of debris enough for traffic (although there were no working street lights, no phone service, no city services).  There are really only four ways into New Orleans. The I-10 “Twin Span” bridges over the eastern edge of Lake Pontchartrain were destroyed by the hurricane. The I-10 bridges coming in from the west and the big Causeway bridge going over the middle of Lake Pontchartrain were closed to all but military traffic, so DJ’s only recourse was to circle wide to the west of town and go in via the narrow two-lane River Road that skirts the Mississippi River levee. I had friends who sneaked back into town early via this route.

That’s it for this week. Be sure and stop by tomorrow and meet urban fantasy author Mike Shevdon, who’ll be here talking about his fabulous Courts of the Feyre series!

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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).

3 thoughts on “Royal Street Annotated–New Chapters are Up!

  1. Great stuff. I remember watching the weather updates with my coworkers, thinking, “Holy S#@t, those levees aren’t going to hold, are they?”

    It was scary enough watching from hundreds of miles away…I can’t imagine…except, since you’re sharing about it, yeah, I can, a little.

  2. UK editions – Great. Anxious to see the covers. I am a big fan of the US editions Cliff Nielsen covers.

  3. @Teri Anne–it was a scary time, although looking back on it now it’s all a blur.

    @Roger, my jewelry-making friend (most clever necklace idea EVER!!)–I’m anxious to see how the UK covers look as well. Not sure why they’re changing–they told me they wanted something more visually tied to New Orleans. So we shall see…