Ask a resident of South Louisiana which is most important—music or food—and chances are good he or she would say “both.” In Terrebonne Parish, the second-largest and most rural of the state’s “counties,” the food is a rich mix of the Acadian (aka “Cajun”), Creole and Native American cultures. It relies heavily on what can be caught or grown locally, from shrimp and redfish to alligator.
The music is likewise a blend of cultures, with fiddle and accordion the signature sounds.
In WILD MAN’S CURSE, the heroine, Celestine Savoie, is a good cook—but her goal is to make her living through music. The hero, Gentry Broussard, is a native of Terrebonne Parish, and loves the raw, wild beauty of this fragile land that’s too quickly disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico.
The book kicks of a new Wilds of the Bayou series, which follows a team of state wildlife enforcement agents assigned to Terrebonne Parish. Gentry is a senior agent—but don’t make the mistake of writing these guys off as the old-fashioned “game warden”—they receive paramilitary-style training and can arrest you for speeding just as easily as a state trooper!
With two parish natives as the h/h, it makes sense that I definitely have a playlist for this series, and there’s definitely a lot of Cajun music to be heard.
Here are the top five songs on my Wilds of the Bayou playlist:
“Heart of My Own,” by Basia Bulat. This is not a Cajun song in the least; the artist is Canadian. But the lyrics are what make this Celestine’s song. Ceelie, you see, can do some of the voodoo and Native American mysticism rituals of her ancestors like throwing the bones, so this song’s references to shadows and returning home, the uncertainty of the future, “the empty bones,” and casting of charms make it perfect for her. It’s how I imagine Celestine’s own music might sound.
“Ugly Truth,” by Lucinda Williams. This is Gentry’s song, because he has been running from the ghosts of his memories, trying to ignore them—until he’s forced to confront them.
“Zydeco Gris-Gris,” by Beausoleil with Michael Doucet. Because you simply can’t have a book set in Cajun Louisiana without a few Beausoleil tracks. This is one of my favorites, and I like to think that when things settle down for them, Gentry and Ceelie will be able to go to a Beausoleil concert and hear this in person. (And if you listen carefully, you can hear references to voodoo and, about the 5:30 point, the loup-garou, the Cajun version of the werewolf.)
About the Author:
Susannah Sandlin is the author of the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, including the 2013 Holt Medallion Award-winning Absolution and Omega and Allegiance, which were nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She also writers The Collectors romantic suspense series, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, 2015 Holt Medallion winner and 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner. Her new series Wilds of the Bayou starts in 2016 with the April 5 release of Wild Man’s Curse. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, Susannah is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Susannah loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.