Behind the Scenes with River Road (and Weekly W*nners)

Since I can’t run a scene snippet from Elysian Fields every week between now and August without running the whole book, time to do some more annotations from River Road–some background, behind-the-scenes info, and things that almost happened, but didn’t.

Also, if you’d like a free read, I have the first chapter of the upcoming Susannah Sandlin release, Omega, online today.

At the end, look for two weeks’ worth of winners. My day job has become kind of a soap opera, so everything is in disarray right now. Including not only announcing winners, but sending out winning books. New office. New computer. Mailing software that doesn’t work with new computer. Dead printer. You get the idea. If you’re waiting for stuff from me, sorry. Continue to be patient. I have a long list to catch up, but I will.

So, when last we did this, we were looking at River Road’s chapter three, so I’ll pick up with chapter four. This begins one of my favorite early sections of the book–where DJ and Alex and the undead pirate Jean Lafitte are meeting at DJ’s office and then driving down into Plaquemines Parish to meet the  mermen for the first time.

A lot changed in River Road as I went through the revision process, but this scene changed very little. In the early drafts, Rene actually met the others at the office, pulling a fishing boat behind his truck, and they all drove to LaFourche Parish instead of Plaquemines. That was before, in my extensive studies of South Louisiana maps, I discovered Burrwood.

(You would not BELIEVE how much time I’ve spent studying maps–LOL.)

So, here’s Plaquemines Parish, southeast of New Orleans, and the red dot waaaaay down at the South Pass outlet at the mouth of the Mississippi River is Burrwood.

In the 1930s, Burrwood looked like this. It was a thriving little community, albeit isolated, where Army Corps of Engineers and riverboat pilots lived. The engineers maintain the integrity of the river, dredging when needed, etc. In the 1940s, during World War II, it became a small base for the US Navy, to defend the Gulf region against invasion by water. During the 1950s, it served as a weather bureau and home base for local fishermen.

Today, because of coastal erosion, Burrwood is totally uninhabited, and most of it lies underwater. The idea of an underwater city attracted me to the area, which got me interested in the wetlands around the mouth of the river, and then to Pass a Loutre. So by the time the scene that begins in River Road was finished, I’d moved the base of the merpeople’s territory dispute to south Plaquemines, around Pass a Loutre and Burrwood. This is their hunting areas.

The Delachaise twins live in the area of Plaquemines called Orchard, while the Villere mermen live not far away in Tidewater. Both of these unincorporated communities lie just outside the small town of Venice, Louisiana. Below is an aerial shot of the land south of Venice, which one cannot reach by car for obvious reasons:

The body of water in the right/center is the Mississippi River. The narrow strips of land on the left and right are lower Plaquemines Parish as one heads toward Pass a Loutre and Burrwood. The water to the right and left of the strips of land? The Gulf of Mexico. Nice place for mermen, right? No roads south of the town of Venice. It’s boats or fins.

So this is where DJ and the gang spend much of their time during River Road when they’re outside of New Orleans. It’s about a ninety-minute drive from New Orleans to Venice, with the road hugging the side of the river. Well, until you reach this sign just south of Venice:

End of the road, Jack! Nothing south of here but water, gators, swamps, wild boar, birds, water, and more water.

Now….Did you win a book this week or last week? If you see your name here, please email me with your snail-mail address or preference, if you’ve won a choice of books.

JENNIFER K won her choice of this week’s Readers Write books: one of Sara Creasy’s Scarabaeus books (Song of Scarabaeus or Children of Scarabaeus), or one of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series.

MELLIANE won her choice of the books from Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. Let me know which one you want!

TERI ANNE won her choice of books from the Book Horde list, for participating in the series Shop Talk discussion (click the tab at the top of the page).

RABID FOX won this week’s Reader’s Choice; she chose the new book by Mark Teppo.

ERIKA won the signed ARC of Cecy Robson’s Sealed with a Curse.

TANYA1224 won a digital copy of Stacey Kennedy’s The Cat’s Meow.

ANDREA won her choice of three YA titles from the Book Horde (tab at the top of the page) for participating in the Shop Talk discussion about YA and New Adult books.

ROGER won last week’s Reader’s Choice; he chose Elle Jasper’s Black Fallen.

And that’s all, folks! See you tomorrow for a new list of releases and a Reader’s Choice contest!

7 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes with River Road (and Weekly W*nners)

  1. Enjoyed the Behind the Scenes. Congratulations to all the winners. WOW! Just read that the 2014 RT Convention will be in New Orleans.

  2. Congrats to all winner ( especially you Roger^^)

    i really love seeing behind the scene you wrote like this it’s informative and we see all the work you did amazing

  3. Awesome! Thank you…I sent you an email. I’m glad that part of the story changed. I like how the 3 of them went in the (nice car) that had baggage…lol…I thought it was quite funny..Jean being Jean and all 😉