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RWA RITA Best First Book Finalists: Interviews & Giveaway

RWA RITA Best First Book Finalists: Interviews & Giveaway

Come July 20, the Romance Writers of America will honor novels in eleven categories with the RITA award. Once  again, Dear Author welcomes the Best First Book finalists. This year, I’ve asked the authors to offer readalikes, so you might just find a good match with a new author. At the RWA conference in Atlanta, I’ll be collecting books (autographed, if possible) to give away, so let me know in the comments which one you’d like to win.

ANNA LEE HUBER,  THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE (also nominated in the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category):

The Anatomist’s Wife, by Anna Lee Huber
FIRST LINE: The scream froze me in my tracks, but the shout that followed propelled me out of my indecision and around the hedge line of the maze.

Genre: Historical Mystery with Strong Romantic Elements

First sentence: The scream froze me in my tracks, but the shout that followed propelled me out of my indecision and around the hedge line of the maze.

Readalike: Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey Series. I’ve also been getting comparisons to Gothic suspense authors like Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt & Mary Stewart.

How the hero/heroine meet… Kiera, Lady Darby has been hiding away at her sister’s Highland castle, and Sebastian Gage is a guest at her sister’s house party. They first confront each other in the book at the scene of the crime, and neither is very fond of one another.

They argue about… Her guilt or innocence in the murder of Lady Godwin.

They make up… In Kiera’s art studio in a turret of the castle.

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits?Not Alone” by Patty Griffin

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? No. I completed four other manuscripts before this one.

The unexpected down side to getting nominated? Stressing over finding a formal gown for the awards ceremony. No, but seriously, there is no down side.

And the unexpected benefit? The camaraderie I’ve felt with my fellow nominees. Not that I expected there to be animosity, but I had not anticipated the extreme good cheer and fellowship. It’s been lovely to make some new friends.

Find Anna: www.annaleehuber.com

Coming up: Mortal Arts, Lady Darby Book 2, releases September 3rd.

TRACY BROGAN, CRAZY LITTLE THING

Genre: Single title contemporary/romantic comedy

Crazy Little Thing, by Tracy Brogan
FIRST LINE: My husband had a talent for putting the dick in unpredictable, so I wasn’t entirely surprised to catch him at an office party with his hand up the skirt of a giggly, jiggly redhead.

First line: My husband had a talent for putting the dick in unpredictable, so I wasn’t entirely surprised to catch him at an office party with his hand up the skirt of a giggly, jiggly redhead.

Readalike: Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or Jennifer Crusie– although I am humbled by their immense talent!

How the hero/heroine meet… She’s been surreptitiously observing his morning jogs from her deck, but when her clumsy aunt trips over a toy truck and needs stitches, they discover he’s a doctor and lives nearby.

They argue about… Coitus interruptus and flax seed.

They make up..On his kitchen counter.

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits? One Rebublic “Won’t Stop.”

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? Yes to both! I’d started a lot of manuscripts but this was the first one I finished and submitted. I feel like that is unusual and I know I am very, very lucky.

The unexpected down side to getting nominated? The sense that every other book I write should get the same accolades. But I know, realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.

And the unexpected benefit? The validation that judges who fully understand and appreciate what it takes to write an engaging book have found merit in this story. This book was recently listed at #10 on the Wall Street Journal Best Sellers list. That was fun, too!

Find Tracy: tracybrogan.com

Latest release: Hold on my Heart: When event planner Libby Hamilton loses her job, her boyfriend and her apartment and must move back in with her parents, she finds herself falling for a sexy, enigmatic builder helping her father turn a one-room schoolhouse into a vintage ice cream parlor.

KRISTEN CALLIHAN, FIRELIGHT (Kristen’s book Moonglow is also a finalist in the Paranormal Romance category.):

Firelight, by Kristen Callihan
FIRST LINE: The knowledge that Archer would soon end the life of another cut at his soul with every step he took.

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

First sentence: The knowledge that Archer would soon end the life of another cut at his soul with every step he took.

Readalike: Zoe Archer, Bec McMaster, Delilah S. Dawson, to name a few of my favorites.

The hero/heroine meet… Well, it was a bit awkward as Archer was coming to kill Miranda’s no-good father and ran into her instead. Needless to say, she distracted him from his mission.

They argue about… Just precisely what are you hiding behind the mask, love? Perhaps I’ll tell you if you tell my why it is that you leave a trail of fiery carnage in your wake.

They make up...  in a darkened alleyway near British Museum. The resolution was quite… satisfying.

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits? This will sound strange, but it would be “Every Second Counts” by New Order. It’s an obscure, old song that is wry, cutting, yet strangely adorable.  With lyrics such as, “every second counts when I am with you. I think you are a pig, you should be in a stew.” Lol. But the song was stuck in my head when I wrote the epilogue for Firelight, and so I always think of it as Archer and Miranda’s final waltz.

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? It was the second. My first book was on submission (never sold) so I fought off submission nerves by writing Firelight.

The unexpected down side to getting nominated? Going head-to-head with books/authors that I love and admire. How do you root for yourself against such awesomeness?

And the unexpected benefit? Meeting more authors I love/admire. :)

Find Kristen: www.kristencallihan.com

New releases: Winterblaze, on sale now. Shadowdance, out December 17, 2013.

 

TRISH McCALLAN, FORGED IN FIRE (also a finalist in Romantic Suspense)

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Forged in Fire, by Trish McCallan
FIRST LINE: Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters shifted uneasily against the grungy white wall across from gate C-18’s ticket counter.

First sentence: Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters shifted uneasily against the grungy white wall across from gate C-18’s ticket counter.

Readalike: Fiona Brand, Linda Howard, people looking for alpha heroes and heroines who have plenty of internal strength and common sense.

The hero/heroine meet…At SeaTac airport, trying to stop a plane hijacking.

They argue about… Soul mates—he believes she’s his, she doesn’t believe in them at all.

They make up… in the emergency room of Sacred Hearts Hospital.

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits? Nickelback’s “Never Gonna Be Alone.”

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? No, I’d written three romance suspense novels before.

What’s the unexpected down side to getting nominated? I haven’t found any downside yet.

And the unexpected benefit? I haven’t found any benefit yet, either.

Find Trish:  www.trishmccallan.com

Coming up: Forged in Ash, the second book in my Red-Hot SEALs series will be released late Jan of 2014.

SHARON LYNN FISHER, GHOST PLANET

Ghost Planet, by Sharon Lynn Fisher
FIRST LINE: The tarmac was deserted.

Genre: Science Fiction / Futuristic Romance

First sentence: The tarmac was deserted.

“Readalike”: The story has similar themes to THE HOST, by Stephenie Meyer. Linnea Sinclair fans may enjoy it as well!

How the hero/heroine meet: Elizabeth travels to Ardagh 1 (the “ghost planet”) to complete her psychology PhD. She’s assigned to work as an intern for sexy Irishman Murphy, the planet’s lead psychologist. He meets her at the transport terminal, and over lunch they discover they actually met briefly in Ireland about 10 years earlier.

They argue about: Their arguments are all pretty spoiler-y! I’ll give the first one, but reader be warned . . .

When they meet, neither of them realizes that Elizabeth has died en route to the planet. She has been reincarnated as a ghost/alien, and is symbiotically bound to Murphy. Elizabeth doesn’t believe she’s a ghost, and as Murphy attempts to turn his back on her (as required by a protocol HE created), she continues to try to persuade him she’s human.

They make up in…Murphy’s apartment.

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits?  There are a couple of songs from the book’s playlist that I think would be good: “Aspera,” by Erin McKeown, which has some latin in it that translates to: “Through hardships to the stars.” “Home,” by Zero 7, which is about trying to find a safe place to be together

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? Well, it is certainly the first I would want anyone else to read. But I did complete another novel in my early 20s – a fantasy romance based on Native American mysticism.

The unexpected down side to getting nominated? Only that I can’t go to RWA nationals this year, waaaah! If there are any other downsides, nobody told me.

And the unexpected benefit? I guess I didn’t really realize how big of news it was, you know? The finalist list goes up everywhere, including Publishers Weekly and USA Today (HEA blog). That was a very nice surprise.

Find Sharon: www.sharonlynnfisher.com

Coming soon: The Ophelia Prophecy, from Tor, February 2014, post-apocalyptic biopunk romance about a race of transgenic humans who are like a futuristic fae.

 

SIMONE ST JAMES, The Haunting of Maddy Clare (also nominated in the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category)

Genre: Gothic historical ghost story mystery romance….

The Haunting of Maddy Clare, by Simone St. James
First Line: The day I met Mr. Gellis, I had been walking in the rain.

First sentence: The day I met Mr. Gellis, I had been walking in the rain.

Readalike: Deanna Raybourn, Susanna Kearsley, Jacqueline Winspear, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart

The hero/heroine meet when… He’s taken a leave of absence from his job as a ghost hunter. She has been hired from a temporary agency to replace him. When he comes back early from his leave, they are both doing the same job (hunting ghosts, of course.)

They argue about… The fact that she’s not trained or cut out for ghost hunting and should probably go home and out of danger. Which she refuses to do, surprising herself.

They make up… at the inn at the small English town where their ghost hunt takes place.

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits? LOL! I don’t know. Something by Hans Zimmer? My books are dark and rather dramatic.

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? No. I wrote two romance novels that were (rightly) rejected everywhere and half of a third before I admitted defeat and gave in to the crazy ghost story idea that had been bothering me for months. I never thought anyone would want to publish this book.

The unexpected down side to getting nominated? I’m trying to think of one. Um, having to go to the RWA conference and enjoy myself? Having to go dress shopping? I still haven’t found the right shoes. That’s as “down” as it gets!

And the unexpected benefit? I got pretty pins in the mail from RWA, and my publisher sent me flowers. Surprise presents in the mail!

Find Simone: www.simonestjames.com

The latest: An Inquiry Into Love and Death released in March… and Silence for the Dead releases April 2014.

HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK, My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick
FIRST LINE: The Garretts were forbidden from the start.

Genre: Young Adult

First sentence: The Garretts were forbidden from the start.

Readalike: Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, John Green

The hero/heroine meet when…He climbs up the trellis to her roof, where she’s watching the stars (and his family).

They argue about…If she’s ashamed of him

They make up…  On some rocks by the Connecticut river, a secret hideaway they both (separately) discovered as children

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits? “I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz.

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? It was the third I completed.

The unexpected down side to getting nominated? Figuring out what to wear ; )

And the unexpected benefit? That I can absolutely justify going to the convention and meeting all these amazing people, including authors I edited for years and never met in person.

Find Huntley: www.huntleyfitzpatrick.com

Coming up: What I Thought Was True, Penguin-DFYR, summer, 2014.

KATIE MCGARRY, Pushing the Limits (also nominated in the Young Adult category)

 Genre: Young Adult

Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry
FIRST LINE: My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead, and my mother has…well…issues. How do you think I’m doing?

First sentence: My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead, and my mother has…well…issues. How do you think I’m doing?

Readalike: I think fans of Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry series will enjoy Pushing the Limits!

The hero/heroine meet…as they sit beside each other outside the office of their court ordered therapist and he teases her about her name.

They argue about…Which of their files they should read first once they break into their therapist’s office.

They make up…  in a hospital room.

If the book were a movie, what song would be playing under the final credits? “Free” by the Zac Brown Band.

This was your first book published. Was it the first book you wrote? No. I have several manuscripts that will never see the light of day.

The unexpected down side to getting nominated? I haven’t come across one yet. :)

And the unexpected benefit? I think that more people have read Pushing the Limits because of the nomination!

Find Katie: www.katielmcgarry.com

The latest: Dare You To (Beth’s story) released in May. Crash Into You (Isaiah’s story) releases November 26th:

 

 

 

Interview (and Giveaway!) with Colleen Gleason, Author of Roaring Midnight (The Gardella Vampire Chronicles)

Interview (and Giveaway!) with Colleen Gleason, Author of Roaring Midnight (The...

RMToday is the release date for Colleen Gleason’s next installation in her paranormal romance series: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles. While I’ve been complaining for a while that I think vampires series are a bit played out, this series features fabulous vampire slayers a la Buffy Summers, AND this trilogy is set in the 1920′s, a unique and fascinating time period. Here is Colleen to tell us a little about this new trilogy and the Gardella family legacy:

1 – Tell us a little bit about the Gardella family. Who are they? What is their legacy?

The Gardellas are a family of vampire hunters. Unlike the mythology of another vampire slayer of well-known repute, the Gardella legacy isn’t quite as discriminating–there are many Venators, or vampire hunters, at any given time, rather than one “Chosen” one.

Not everyone in the family is called to be a vampire hunter. And each person can either accept or reject the calling.

The branches of the family are far-flung, and a “born” Gardella Venator can pop up anywhere. However, the direct line of descendants from Gardeleus–the first vampire hunter, who originated in Rome during the first century–are the most powerful of the Venators, and one is always the figurehead and leader of the group

2 – What was the inspiration for the Gardellas? What’s the hook?

I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer years ago, and I loved the juxtaposition of her normal life versus that of her calling–just as we see over and over again in other superhero mythology. I’m also very attracted to historical settings and characters.

So, one night, when I put on Cinderella with my daughters, I had the thought…what if, when the clock was striking midnight, Cinderella had to leave…not because her magic spell was breaking, but for a much more interesting reason: she had sensed the presence of a vampire and had to go take care of it?

All I could think was…how much fun would that be??

That was how the initial five-book Gardella Vampire Chronicles series was born. I always intended to write several sets of connected books–each set in a different time period, each focusing on a different female Venator.

3- The first five books were set in Regency-era England. What made you decide on the Roaring 20’s for this new chapter in the series?

I’d always wanted to write something set in the Roaring Twenties. What a fascinating, visually-beautiful time period. I love the intrigue of the speakeasies, the music, the fashion–the hats!–and thought it would be a great mashup to have vampire hunting among the gangsters.

Although I have another trilogy plotted out as well (set in Elizabethan England), and will someday write that one, I chose to move to the ‘20s right after ending the Victoria series because of some loose threads/beloved characters. People wanted to know what happened after As Shadows Fade (#5 of the Victoria Chronicles), and this was one way of answering those questions.

4- Sebastian Vioget, one of my favorite characters from the first series makes an appearance in the series.  What do you think make Sebastian such a favorite among Gardella readers?

He’s hot!

And he’s also mysterious, charming, disreputable…and by the end of the original series…more than a little angsty. He’s the consummate bad boy, and we never knew what to expect from him.

5- How did you research the time period?

I read and read and read. I got several pieces of documentation and literature that were written and printed during the time period. I went nuts buying books about the Twenties–including a book on millinery.

One of the things I really enjoy doing for research, aside from reading, is looking at photos and advertisements from the time period. Obviously, this is much easier to do for the 1920s than it was for the early 19th century…and so a lot of my research was visual. Studying images helped me better imagine my characters and setting

6- The Gardella series has a very strong sense of place. How do you make the settings of your novels so vivid? TRFA

Thank you! I constantly remind myself that the characters are in a different place and time–with different clothing, different surroundings, different limitations, different culture and mores. And whenever I can, I remind the reader–subtly I hope–of how the characters’ lives are so different from ours. Also, the smallest details, when used lightly and judiciously, I think help to set the scene and create a strong sense of world.

7- The sensibility in this novel is much different from the first series. Of course, the time has changed. How did the evolution of women’s rights, mindset, attitudes impact the way you approached writing Macey?

You’re right–the entire feel and culture is very different in this novel than in the Victoria books. In Regency-era England, Society women were, of course, meant to marry…and that’s it. There wasn’t really any other acceptable options for an upper class woman. And for those of the lower classes, many of the same restrictions were in place–legally, a woman was hardly her own person.

However, as we know, the culture of the flapper really changed the way women of the early 20th century were perceived and acted. We’re talking about a time where women are no longer wearing restrictive clothing, where they are smoking and drinking and working jobs, going to college, having sex, and hanging out in nightclubs–both legal and illegal ones. They lived in their own rooms or flats at boarding houses, they drove their own cars, they even got the right to vote!

Macey is a completely different character than Victoria. One of the things that was important to me when writing this spin-off series was not to make her “Victoria Reincarnated.” Having the trilogy set in the ‘20s helps–because Macey’s very environment, and what’s acceptable and what isn’t, is so utterly different from that of Victoria’s.

That’s not to say she won’t have some of the same sorts of conflict. All superheroes have many elements of conflict that are the same. And most women have the same sorts of conflict in their lives as well–regardless of when they lived.

8- How many books are planned in this series?

There will be three books about Macey: Roaring Midnight, Roaring Shadows, and Roaring Dawn.

9 – The covers of the first series, and this one as well, are so striking and beautiful. Do you work with a particular artist?

Thank you. The artist did an amazing job with the concept of these covers. For the Roaring trilogy, we wanted them to have the same feel as the original covers–but also to clearly indicate the time period. Since the ‘20s are so easily recognizable by the fashion, it wasn’t difficult to do.

10 – What’s next for Macey Gardella?

Well, she’s got to settle in to her new role–which she accepts at the very end of Roaring Midnight. There will be repercussions for her decision, and probably some people will be hurt by it. And then we have to attend to Sebastian Vioget and his legacy as well.

 

ETA: Colleen has agreed to give one lucky US based winner a signed copy of any of her backlist. Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter!

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