Guest post ~ Suzanne Johnson & Giveaway/Concours

With the release of the fourth book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, Pirate’s Alley, we’re happy to welcome Suzanne Johnson on the blog

Avec la sortie du quatrième tome de la série Sentinels of New Orleans, Pirate’s Alley, nous sommes heureux d’accueillir Suzanne Johnson sur le blog. La traduction est sous la version anglaise.


The Last Pirates, and Jean Lafitte

Suzanne Johnson

When most people think of pirates, particularly the pirates who plied the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, they think of the era depicted in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. As England, France, and Spain began developing trade with the New World, the only mode of travel was by sea—pirates could make huge fortunes.

Whereas British and Spanish pirates made up the “Golden Age of Piracy” between 1650 and 1725 (a la Captain Jack Sparrow), a second and final wave of pirates—most of them French—sprang up in the Caribbean a century later, in the early 19th century. The king of the French Corsairs was a fascinating man who has become one of the most popular characters in my Sentinels of New Orleans series, the French pirate Jean Lafitte.

[Of course since the real Lafitte died about 1823, my version is an immortal and sexy ghostly version.]

Jean Lafitte (he spelled his name Laffite but it has since been Anglicized) was likely born in the Bordeaux region of France around 1780, the youngest of several children. Little is known of his early life, but he sailed up the Mississippi River into New Orleans at age 26 as captain of his own ship. He went into business with his older brother Pierre, who’d moved to the city a few years earlier.

Jean spoke several languages, dressed like a gentleman (earning his nickname “the gentleman pirate”), was tall and handsome, and had a way with the ladies. He had a playful sense of humor, but was very quick to anger—his moods could change quickly from laughter to violence.

He was also wicked smart, and soon became the undisputed leader of more than a thousand pirates who lived in Barataria, the wild, lawless wetlands and islands that lay south of New Orleans. He became arguably the wealthiest pirate in history—and the most politically influential.

In those days—Louisiana had only been sold by France to the United States three years before Jean arrived—the Americans were still trying to fend off the Brits, who were trying to reclaim the young country for themselves. As a result, there was an embargo on goods entering the country via the Mississippi River. New Orleanians—most of them French—were desperate for everything from clothing to food to luxury items.

Jean Lafitte filled those needs, stealing exclusively from Spanish ships (France and Spain were at war) and auctioning or selling the stolen goods to New Orleanians at much cheaper prices than the local merchants. This wasn’t exactly popular with those merchants, of course, so they persuaded the governor of Louisiana to issue a reward for Lafitte’s capture and arrest—piracy held a death sentence.

Such was Jean’s popularity among the common people that he was able to march right down the main street the next day and post his own flier offering a much larger reward for the capture of the governor!

In 1815, one hundred years ago this winter, Jean Lafitte and his Baratarian pirates became the unlikely heroes of the War of 1812, providing men and ammunition to the Americans to fend off the British in the last battle of the war, the Battle of New Orleans. In exchange for his services, the U.S. president offered Lafitte and all his men a pardon for their crimes of piracy.

Once the war ended and the shipping embargoes were lifted, however, the need and profitability of piracy died away, and Jean Lafitte wasn’t cut out for civilian (i.e., legal) life. Burned out by the Americans, he moved his colony to Texas for a few years and then mysteriously disappeared at age 43. Some say he died in a battle at sea; others that he is buried in Mexico after contracting malaria; still others that he changed his name, sailed upriver to St. Louis, Missouri, married, and lived to old age.

We will likely never know the truth, which adds to his mystique. And in the meantime, he makes a VERY entertaining book character for the Sentinels of New Orleans!


Les derniers pirates, et Jean Lafitte

Suzanne Johnson

Quand les gens pensent aux pirates, surtout ceux qui ont vogué sur la mer des Caraïbes et le Golf du Mexique, ils pensent aux endroits utilisés dans les films du style “Pirates des Caraïbes”. Alors que l’Angleterre, la France, et l’Espagne venaient de  commencé à développer le commerce avec le nouveau monde, le seul moyen de voyager restait la mer – les pirates pouvaient faire fortune.

Bien que les pirates Anglais et Espagnols ont eu leur « Age d’Or de la Piraterie » entre 1650 et 1725 (à la Capitaine Jack Sparrow), la seconde et dernière vague de pirates – la plupart Français – ont vogué dans les Caraïbes un siècle plus tard, au 19éme siècle. Le roi des corsaires Français était un homme fascinant qui est devenu le personnage le plus populaire de ma série Sentinels of New Orleans, le pirate Français Jean Lafitte.

[Bien sûr, comme le véritable Lafitte est mort en 1823, ma version est un personnage immortel incroyablement sexy.]

Jean Lafitte (il utilise Laffite mais le nom a été anglicisé depuis) est probablement né dans la région de Bordeaux en France vers 1870, le plus jeune de plusieurs enfants. Nous ne connaissons que le début de sa vie, mais il a vogué sur la Rivière du Mississippi à la Nouvelle Orléans à 26 ans en tant que capitaine de son propre navire. Il a travaillé avec son frère aîné, Pierre, qui a emménagé dans cette ville plusieurs années plus tard.

Jean parlait plusieurs langues, s’habillait comme un gentleman (gagnant son surnom de « pirate gentleman »), était grand et charmant et était doué avec les femmes. Il avait un grand sens de l’humour, mais s’énervait aussi facilement – ses sautes d’humeurs pouvaient le faire passer du rire à la violence.

Il était aussi incroyablement intelligent et devint le leader de plus d’une centaine de pirates qui vivaient à Barataria, des îles humides et sauvages du sud de la Nouvelle Orléans. Il devint indubitablement le plus riche pirate de l’histoire – et le plus influent politiquement.

En ce temps-là, La Louisiane avait été vendue par la France aux Etats-Unis trois ans avant que Jean n’arrive – les Américains étaient toujours en train de négocier avec les Anglais, qui voulaient réclamer le lieu. Le résultat a été l’apparition d’un embargo sur les biens qui entraient dans le pays par la Rivière du Mississipi. Les habitants de la Nouvelle Orléans – la plupart des Français – désiraient tout ce qui allait des habits, à la nourriture et même aux produits de luxe.

Jean Lafitte combla ces besoins, volant exclusivement des bateaux Espagnols (La France et l’Espagne étaient en guerre) et vendait ou donnait les biens volés à la Nouvelle-Orléans pour des prix bien plus bas que ceux des marchands locaux. Ce n’était pas très apprécié des marchands, bien sûr, alors ils ont persuadé le gouverneur de Louisiane d’offrir de l’argent contre la capture et l’arrestation de Lafitte – la piraterie était vouée à une peine de mort.

La popularité de Jean était telle qu’il était capable de marcher dans la rue principale le jour suivant et de poster un avis offrant une récompense plus grande pour la capture du gouverneur !

En 1815, Jean Lafitte et ses pirates Baratarians sont devenus les héros de la Guerre de 1812, approvisionnant les Américains de munitions pour écraser les Anglais pendant la dernière bataille de la guerre, la Bataille de la Nouvelle Orléans. En échange de ses services, le président U.S. a offert à Lafitte et ses hommes le pardon pour leurs crimes de piraterie.

Une fois la guerre terminée et les embargos levés, le besoin et le profit de la piraterie ne s’est plus fait sentir, et Jean Lafitte n’était pas fait pour la vie civile (i.e. légale). La colonie brulée par les américains, il déménagea sa colonie au Texas pendant quelques années et disparut mystérieusement à 43 ans. Certains disent qu’il est mort durant une bataille en mer, d’autres qu’il a été enterré à Mexico après avoir contracté la malaria ; d’autres encore qu’il a changé son nom, a navigué à St. Louis, Missouri, s’est marié et a vécu jusqu’à un âge avancé.

Nous ne saurons surement jamais la vérité, ce qui ajoute à son mythe. Et pendant ce temps, il fait partie de mes personnages pour Sentinels of New Orleans !



Sentinels of New Orlean, Book 4

Synopsis: Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.

Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal.

Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband, Quince Randolph, is growing more powerful, and her best friend, Eugenie, has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back. And that’s before the French pirate, Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest “death,” returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ’s assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won’t be that easy.

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90 thoughts on “Guest post ~ Suzanne Johnson & Giveaway/Concours

  1. Great history lesson! It’s been a while since a read such an interesting guest post. It makes me certain that I need to pick up the first book and try out this series.

  2. Ah, les pirates, les bateaux à voile, le grand large, l’aventure !! Je suis allée plusieurs fois à Saint-Malo, la cité corsaire (il y a d’excellentes crêperies, accessoirement) 😉

  3. Thanks for the background history on Jean. I would love to be a fly on the wall if Jean met Jack Sparrow. Just think of the trouble they could get into together! DJ would really have her hands full!

  4. Jean has become one of the greatest Urban Fantasy characters, just love his adventures, and all of The Sentinels of New Orleans books. Thanks for the guest post.

  5. Oh my gosh, LOVED this post! Jean is by far my favorite character in this series and it is fascinating that he is a real person (or at least once was).
    I adore this series and Pirate’s Alley was amazing!! Suzanne is such a talented writer! My review for this posts next week and I’m already excited about the next book!

  6. I’ve been fascinated with pirates since, you guessed it…., Pirates of the Caribbean. Haha, this probably isn’t the answer I should be revealing but it’s true nonetheless. That being said i’m terrible with legitimate pirate facts and this guest post was incredibly insightful. Lovely post!

  7. I love this author, the series and Jean Lafitte. Very interesting post. I liked learning more about the real Jean. He has become one of my favorite characters in UF. I can’t wait for more.

  8. I’ve been wanting to start this series since the first book came out. I need to find the time to devour them all!

    Oh and Jean sounds like a very interesting pirate and one with some great mystique. I just hope he had good bathing manners as I understand they typically didn’t aboard a ship. You would think since he was a ladies man. LOL

    • Since he was pretty well educated and had a big fancy house on one of Louisiana’s barrier islands, my guess is that he probably did better than most when it came to dental hygiene. At least my undead version of him does!

  9. I can’t wait to read this book! And I love this post. I reserched Jean while I was reading the first book and found him facinating. I so badly want to know what ever happened to him. If only time travel were real …

    • Oh, I know, Christy! I have read everything I can get my hands on, and there are so many conflicting stories. Since he often told people different stories about himself, depending on his circumstances (what? a pirate told lies? LOL), we’ll probably never know.

  10. I really need to finally jump on board and read this series already! As a huge UF lover, I’m sort of embarassed about not reading it, and I do feel like I’m missing out.
    Thank you for sharing the fabulously informative post.

    • Yes, there are compelling arguments for each of the theories, including an “autobiography” that has enough detail in it to support the idea that he changed his name and moved to St. Louis and lived into old age. It’s an interesting mystery!

  11. The first book is one of my next read (thanks to the awesome Melliane who gave it to me for my last birthday). I didn’t even know that one of the character was a pirate, but now I’m definitely sold on it. I love pirates ! Even better, it’s a french pirate. As a french girl, it’s my moral duty to love him. Can’t wait to meet him in Royal Street.

  12. It’s The Final Countdown! (Channeling Europe! Ha)
    Just four days left until Pirate’s Alley!! Anyone else excited for this book?!

  13. Well of course, as a romance reader I hope that Jean sailed upriver, found someone to love, and lived happily ever after. Thanks for a very informative post. I love that he is so prominently featured in your books.

  14. Hope I’m putting the info in the right boxes.. for some reason.. this came up in French! lmao!

    Congrats on your latest release!! 🙂

  15. Sounds like an amazing book, full of adventure and a great history, and french pirate awesome, i totally agree pirates are always related to the Caribbean and are always Brits, finally a different history 🙂

  16. Bonjour à vous,

    merci de nous proposer ce concours, je tente ma chance bien volontiers et avec plaiiisiirr !!
    bloglovin pseudo : je crois que j’ai donne un mauvais pseudo dans le formulaire, c’est My Web magazine ou gunners81 (je ne sais pas s’il faut le full name ou le username)
    bonne journeeeee

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