Inspiration can come from something as simple as a spider- guest post by Susannah Sandlin

Today I am participating with Bewitching Book Tours to highlight Susannah Sandlin’s new paranormal romance novel, Storm Force.  It was originally released as a Kindle Serial, but all the episodes are available now as one book.  The author was kind enough to provide a fascinating guest post on what inspired her to write the story.  Check it out and be sure to leave a comment so you’ll be entered into a giveaway she is doing (mentioned at the end of her post).


Storm Force Button 300 x 225


Take it away Susannah…


Inspiration can come from anywhere. With Storm Force, it all started with a spider. Specifically, an eyeless spider named a Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver.

For arachnophobes, I should quickly point out that there are no spiders in Storm Force. But the Meshweaver did inspire a big element of the shapeshifter-and-terrorism, high-action plot.

In 2012, a $15 million highway project in Texas was halted after a rare Meshweaver spider was found in the middle of the excavation. Turns out the spider has been on the federal endangered-species list since 2000, and no one had spotted one in the wild in more than 30 years. A big brouhaha ensued between environmentalists, who wanted the Meshweaver protected, and the state transportation folks, who needed to get their underpass completed.

So when I started working on the outline for Storm Force, where a combined counterterrorism team of human Army Rangers and shapeshifters is called in to investigate a Houston bombing believed to be an act of ecoterrorism, I remembered that story about the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver.

What ensued was a research project on animal species on the endangered list in east Texas and western Louisiana, and animals that were already believed to be extinct. Turns out there were quite a few. Here are a few to ponder…and what kind of shapeshifters they might make!


The Jaguarundi. These members of the puma family can still be found in Mexico and South America, but they’ve pretty much disappeared from Texas, crowded out of their habitat. Because they’re solitary, they’re listed as endangered rather than extinct, so there still might be a few skulking around. Jaguarundis are loners. They’re territorial. Kind of ill-tempered and aggressive. Sounds like a shapeshifter to me!


The Louisiana Black Bear. Did you know that this species of black bear was the one on which the original teddy bear was patterned? They’re considered “threatened.” Not yet extinct, as near as I can tell, but there hasn’t been a sighting in the wild for quite a few years.


The Jaguar, as opposed to the jaguarondi. Jags are much bigger, of course, and are considered a “threatened” species in Texas.  There are a pair of Black Jaguar shifters who are part of my Storm Force team, Archer and Adam, who are brothers.


The Bald Eagle. These are amazing birds. To be fair, however, I do not have a bald-eagle shifter in Storm Force. I do, however, have a Golden Eagle shifter…named Robin. She’s fierce!

And just to think…it all started with a spider!

What’s your favorite shapeshifter? Wolves? Big cats? Or something more exotic? Leave a comment to win your choice of print or digital copy of Storm Force! (Release date for print: June 18. Currently available for Kindle.)



Wow!  Thanks to Susannah for her insightful post on how she got some of the ideas for her book.  Who knew a spider could cause so much trouble?  Except, of course, for scaring the crap out of some people when they stumble across one.  Personally, I don’t worry about identifying them.  I just stomp them to death or spray them with poison, but my husband tells me I’m a cruel person.  I don’t believe him.  Anyway, check out all the book details below on Storm Force and don’t forget to leave a comment!




As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?


Storm Force
Omega Force #1
Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication:  March 19, 2013, in serial form for Kindle; June 18th, 2013, in print
ISBN: 978-1477807576
Word Count: approx. 90,000







 Kell spotted the bird as soon as its wingtips cleared the edge of the cypress stand at the eastern rim of Bayou Cote Blanche. For a moment, he indulged a hope it might be a hawk in search of fish, or a pelican, or a cormorant, or a fucking giant mutant hummingbird.
Anything but an eagle.
“It’s her.” At the sound of his voice, Gator raised his spotted head and focused sharp, mismatched eyes on the horizon, barking furiously in his Catahoula big-dog voice, usually reserved for alligators and swamp rats.
Kell had been sitting on the porch of his cabin at Cote Blanche since Nik’s phone call from New Orleans two hours ago, waiting to see who’d arrive first—the man or the bird.
Should’ve known it would be the freakazoid eagle with the deceptively sweet name of Robin. He’d come to think of her as Razorblade Robin. Nik would have to rent a boat in Jeanerette and navigate the serpentine waterways of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Swamp to get here. Razorblade Robin could just sprout feathers and soar.
The midday sun glinted off the glossy reddish-brown wings of the golden eagle as it swooped over the smooth, murky water of the bayou and landed with a harsh caw at the end of his dock. Gator rose to his feet and looked up at Kell, asking permission to chase.
“Sorry, buddy. You don’t want to mess with that one. She can take you.” Hell, she could take both of them.
Kell took a final look at the pile of papers he’d been reading—notes about his team’s new assignment. Mostly, he’d been studying the photo on top of the stack. The woman, Emory Chastaine, an environmental activist well known in tree-hugger circles, had been photographed from a distance with a telephoto lens that gave the image a grainy feel, made worse by his generator-powered printer. But he could tell she was tall, athletic-looking in a t-shirt and jeans, shoulder-length blond hair, pretty in an all-American kind of way.
Not his image of a terrorist. Which made her even more dangerous.
Gator sprang off the porch as the eagle strutted down the dock toward them. He approached the bird in a crouch, his growls echoing off the still water. Damn dog never did listen worth a flip. Kell leaned back in his chair to watch the show. With a screech and a blur of feathers seconds before Gator reached her, the eagle morphed into a petite, waifish brunette.
Make that a naked, waifish brunette with a snark-tastic attitude who arched an eyebrow when Kell’s vicious watchdog turn into a slobbering, tail-wagging fool, jumping up and down so vigorously his black and white spots seemed to blur. You’d think the hound saw birds turn into people every day.
If Gator went the crotch-sniffing route, Kell might have to die of pure humiliation.
Not like the naked bird-woman came as any big surprise. He reached for the t-shirt he’d thrown across the other porch chair and tossed it to her as she approached, Gator dancing around her legs. “Put this on.”
Robin Ashton, five-foot-nothing of shapeshifter and the tracker for Kell’s new Omega Force team, caught the shirt and used it to wipe the sweat off her face. “It’s like a sauna out here. Pretty, though, if you’re into the primordial.”
She turned to study the bayou, a minor niche in the massive Atchafalaya basin, and Kell made it a point to keep his eyes away from her ass. It wasn’t that he wanted to look at it, exactly, but he was a guy, and it was right in front of him.




author imageAUTHOR BIO:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.





Indie Bound

~ by Suzie on June 10, 2013.

9 Responses to “Inspiration can come from something as simple as a spider- guest post by Susannah Sandlin”

  1. I read Storm Force as a serial novel and really enjoyed it. Have ordered the paperback for the keeper shelf. Recommend it whenever I can. Thanks for the update on spiders.

  2. My favorite are pure shapeshifters who can shift into any animal.

  3. i like werewolves but felines got my interest too they seem to work a lot more in teh security kind of job i guess they are more paranoid^^

    i really enjoyed storm force and i do hope the series will continue

  4. I am looking forward to reading this book. It sounds awesome. Thanks for the giveaway. I love all shifters, I think they are awesome, but if I had to choose one, I’ll chose a Thunderbird.

  5. Thanks for the fun post and congrats to Susannah on the release! I really like any kind of shifter. And the more unique the better! 🙂

  6. Thanks, everyone! Miki, I think the big cats are good at security because they can slink around quietly! (Or that’s my guess.)

    A thunderbird would be a cool shifter 🙂

  7. I like the feline shifters best. I agree that they are good at slinking around. And who doesn’t like the cuddle with a cat? The serial was fun. Congrats on the print release!

  8. Like werewolves

  9. I like most any kind of shifter! Cats, wolves, dragons, I pretty much like them all! Thanks for the chance to win this one, it looks awesome.

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