Roslindale resident and author R.B. Wood just released his newest novel, Bayou Whispers, and if supernatural thrillers are your style, this book is for you.
According to the book’s description, it’s “the story of no-nonsense New Orleans native, Jeannine LaRue, the sole survivor of her family after the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of the storm, she believed she’d been saved, but soon found herself held hostage and sexually exploited, rescued months later by sheriff＊s deputy Curtis Jones.
Twelve years after Katrina, Jeannine is a new attorney who returns to New Orleans to save her old friend Curtis Jones—now a local thief and trafficker of stolen goods—after he is arrested for the murder of Jeannine＊s captors, whose bodies have recently been found. But Jeannine discovers more than she bargained for when she uncovers a family history of dark voodoo magic and an unholy alliance with an ancient evil Haitian god.”
Wood did not begin his career as a writer. He grew up in New York, and as a financial services consultant, has traveled to about 80 countries around the world.
“About five years ago, I had a series of unfortunate medical events,” Wood said, and “realized I couldn’t do what I used to do.” So he decided he had to make a career switch.
As a young person, Wood said he always enjoyed writing stories using crayons on paper.
He decided to go back to Emerson College for his MFA, and settled on writing horror and thriller stories after graduating in 2019.
“Originally I was a science fiction fan,” he said, adding that “horror really is the only genre that’s emotion-based; there’s a reaction to it.”
He said what he likes about the genre is “building tension” and “throwing everyday characters into an extraordinary situation to see how they would react.”
He said reading Stephen King’s It caused him to keep the lights on inside his house for three days. “That impact is amazing,” he said, adding that there are “a lot of good horror writers out there doing that right.”
Wood said that Bayou Whispers is “more of a supernatural thriller.” The character of Jeannine LaRue is based off of a friend of Wood’s who had stage four colon cancer at the age of 36 and unfortunately ended up passing away. He said she was “a sweetheart and incredibly strong,” and felt that she was a good person to base the strong character of Jeannine on.
“This is a survival story,” Wood said of the book, which follows LaRue as she is rescued by a police officer, Curtis Jones, following Hurricane Katrina, who then “turns to a life of crime.”
Later on, Jeannine is an attorney in New York and when she heads to New Orleans to save Jones, “she begins to discover who she is, and that’s important,” Wood said. “Who she is is far different than who she’s told she is.”
Wood said that he had spent a lot of time in New Orleans talking to people and he felt it was the perfect setting for a story of survival.
“I would love it if people were entertained by this,” he said of the book. “I like to tell sites that people would, not enjoy a literary expert.”
Wood started working on the book when he was at Emerson College. “It was my thesis story,” he said, and the original intent was for it to be a “pure horror story.”
Wood described his first novel, The Prodigal’s Foole, as an “urban fantasy” that “deals with angels, deals with demons,” and an “idiot caught in the middle who’s trying to get in the middle of things.” He said he had planned on writing a follow up to it, but he said it’s “hard to write a book series.”
He said that his other published works are shorter fiction pieces that can be found o the internet or in different anthologies. He said themed anthologies are his favorite to contribute to, and said that it gives him the challenge he craves to learn about a new topic.
Wood’s advice to other writers includes “applying what I would call a work discipline to writing. Put the butt in the chair and do it every day,” he said. He said he aims to write 1500 works per day, even on the days he doesn’t feel like doing it.
Time management, he said, is the key to a successful writing experience.
During the pandemic, Wood said he did less writing as it “put a lot of anxiety out there,” and he felt it became more difficult to sit down and write.
“The world can’t stop,” he said, so writers just have to adjust.
Wood has lived in Roslindale since 2007, and said he is a big fan of the local businesses and Adams Park.
“I love all the shops and how friendly the folks are in the shops,” he said, adding that the neighborhood has a “little hometown feel.” He also said “I just love Massachusetts in general for the intellect and the diversity and the conversations.”
Wood has also hosted Word Count Podcast for 10 years, and he just finished the 1000th episode. Right now, the podcast is on hiatus, but he said he has met many friends through the show, and told over 700 stories.
“What a fun experience that was,” he said of the podcast. Each episode was set up with a prompt, and guests write and record flash fiction. He said that it might start up again some day, but he doesn’t know when.
On April 29—the book’s release date— a Facebook book launch event was held for Bayou Whispers, where Wood read from the book and did a Q+A, as well as spoke with fellow author Todd Keisling.
He said to get the book out to as wide an audience as possible, he is engaging in interviews with several different outlets and book video bloggers, reviews, podcasts, blogs, radio and TV stations, and YouTube.
“I think it’s going to be spectacular,” he said, adding that he’s “trying to get the book in front of as many people as possible.”
In the past year, Wood completed and sold Bayou Whispers, along with eight other short stories. Some of the stories were new, he said, and some were ones he worked on while at Emerson College. He said he has more than 20 other stories that “are done, need editing, reviewing, or in process.”
He said Bayou Whispers needed to come out now, as it became a story of survival, and “everybody has a survivor story now.” He added that every person had to make some sort of change in their lives because of the pandemic.
“In that way,” he said, “everybody’s a survivor and here’s a survivor story.”
Bayou Whispers is available now on Amazon and at various other booksellers.
For more information on RB Wood, visit rbwood.com.