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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:

 

 

 

Alison Atlee (also known as "Alyson" here at Dear Author) is fascinated by creative people and how they work, which is why she enjoys contributing author interviews to Dear Author. She likes her romance novels light on the internal monologues, twisty with the conventions, and brimming with voice. Her favorite book at age ten? "An Old-Fashioned Girl" by Louisa May Alcott.

53 Comments

  1. Mary Beth
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 10:18:26

    Thanks Alison for putting these interviews together. It was fun to read and many of the books look great! I actually own 5 of them – they are sitting impatiently on my TBR mountain.

    ReplyReply

  2. Mo
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 10:53:33

    They all sound great. I would love to get TRACY BROGAN, CRAZY LITTLE THING

    ReplyReply

  3. Kim
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 11:14:59

    Thanks for the introduction to some new authors.

    ReplyReply

  4. AmyW
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 11:30:16

    Thanks for the giveaway, and nice colors for the interviews :) I’m most interested in THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE.

    ReplyReply

  5. Kim
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 11:47:54

    Edited to add: I just saw that there might be some copies of Sherry Thomas’ upcoming book, The Burning Sky, at RWA. That would make a nice giveaway.

    ReplyReply

  6. Faye
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 11:49:06

    Great idea! I am so intrigued by The Anatomist’s Wife- I’d love to win/read it.

    ReplyReply

  7. Michelle K
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 12:01:15

    I would love to try The Anatomist’s Wife

    ReplyReply

  8. KarenF
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 12:24:50

    I’ve been wanting to read CRAZY LITTLE THING for a while now!

    ReplyReply

  9. Tanya
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 12:38:25

    Sign up another for “The Anatomist’s Wife” And yay for Kristin Callihan’s New Order fade out. Winner! (I already have that book in my TBR pile).

    ReplyReply

  10. Lil
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 12:40:07

    I’ve read both The Anatomists’s Wife and The Haunting of Maddy Clare, and all I can say is that if I were judging this contest, I would have a terrible time trying to pick one over the other.

    ReplyReply

  11. Pamk
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 13:29:44

    would love to try Ghost Planet

    ReplyReply

  12. Sarah Meral
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:01:04

    Great post!

    I would love to get THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, the book sounds wonderful, but I am not sure, if your giveaway is international?

    Anyway, thanks for the post :)

    ReplyReply

  13. hapax
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:07:25

    They all look good, but I’m particularly eager to read CRAZY LITTLE THING, FIRELIGHT and especially MY LIFE NEXT DOOR.

    @Kim — I read an ARC of THE BURNING SKY and it was *breathtaking*!

    ReplyReply

  14. Kim
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:23:16

    @hapax: Thanks for letting me know. I’m a big Sherry Thomas fan, but I don’t read a lot of YA. This book seems to be getting good buzz, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

    ReplyReply

  15. Divya S
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:35:22

    Since I haven’t read any of these, I would love to win a copy of any one of them!

    ReplyReply

  16. Donna D
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:37:26

    I think I would be delighted if I won ANY one of these books. They all sound interesting, definitely different from each other. If choosing which one(s) to read first, It would be hard to pick between THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, CRAZY LITTLE THING, or FORGED IN FIRE. THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE and GHOST PLANT are also right up there. But I would like to read them all

    ReplyReply

  17. SusanS
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:45:45

    I read and enjoyed Ghost Planet on my soon to be defunct Nook Color so I would love an autographed copy for re-reading pleasure.

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  18. Donna D
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:51:10

    I think I would be delighted if I won ANY one of these books. They all sound interesting, definitely different from each other. If choosing which one(s) to read first, It would be hard to pick between THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, CRAZY LITTLE THING, or FORGED IN FIRE. THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE and GHOST PLANT are also right up there.

    ReplyReply

  19. ruth
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 14:56:44

    they all sound good, and I even have some of them on my phone waiting for me to read them. I’m particularly interested in THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE.

    ReplyReply

  20. Heather S
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 15:01:13

    I would la la LOVE to win and read Crazy Little Thing :) Thanks!

    ReplyReply

  21. ZoeyPeacock
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 15:25:43

    I would love to win the anatomists wife!

    ReplyReply

  22. cyclops8
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 15:28:44

    I would love to win a copy of Trish McCallan’s “Forged in Fire.”

    ReplyReply

  23. Maureen
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 15:43:44

    I would like to win Crazy Little Thing.

    ReplyReply

  24. Sandypo
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 15:44:19

    I would be happy with My Life Next Door or Crazy Little Thing. But The Anatomist’s Wife sounds really good, too!

    ReplyReply

  25. Chelsea B.
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 16:10:38

    Loved this!
    I would love to win: The Haunting of Maddy Clare or Crazy Little Thing.

    ReplyReply

  26. Kelley
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 16:36:11

    I’d like to win crazy little thing. Or firelight

    ReplyReply

  27. Susan S.
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 17:14:24

    I would pick The Anatomist’s Wife.

    ReplyReply

  28. Lindsay
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 17:51:12

    Ooh, I’d love to win a copy of Firelight and Crazy Little Thing because that interview is hilarious. Pushing the Limits also sounds really good. I mean they ALL sound great, but those are the ones that made me perk up for romance catnip!

    ReplyReply

  29. bn100
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 19:38:49

    Would like to read My Life Next Door or Pushing the Limits

    ReplyReply

  30. Susan
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 21:33:12

    I actually have a number of these already–calling my name from my massive TBR pile. (sigh) I don’t have The Anatomist’s Wife–it’s been on my wish list waiting for the price to drop. (It seems that whenever I pay full price for an ebook, it’s bound to go on sale almost right away. But if I hold off waiting for a sale, it seems to never come.)

    ReplyReply

  31. Barbara Elness
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 22:51:37

    I’d love to win The Anatomist’s Wife, it sounds like such a great story.

    ReplyReply

  32. Readsalot81
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 23:39:57

    Great collection of books! :) I’d love to read/win My Life Next Door.

    ReplyReply

  33. Julie
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 23:46:00

    Ghost Planet sounds different. I need more sci-fi romance in my life. :) Thanks for putting this post together!

    ReplyReply

  34. Jessica
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 07:58:08

    I’d love to win the Anatomist’s Wife. Is this the kind of book that won’t be eligible for a RITA next year? Aren’t they getting rid of the NSRE (novel with strong romantic elements) category?

    ReplyReply

  35. Jo @ Mixed Book Bag
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 10:44:45

    I have read Ghost Planet and Firelight. I would love to have The Haunting of Maddy Clare

    ReplyReply

  36. MJV
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 15:37:17

    I would love to win THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, by ANNA LEE HUBER.

    ReplyReply

  37. TerryS
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 17:57:11

    Ugh! Don’t. Make. Me. Choose! Pushing the Limits, because I loved that book, and I’m going to Need a physical copy of my very own.

    PS Favorite question was the one about the song playing during the final credits. Now I have “I Won’t Give Up” stuck in my brain again.

    ReplyReply

  38. MaryK
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 17:59:36

    I’ve been wanting to try The Haunting of Maddy Clare.

    ReplyReply

  39. sarac
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 18:01:28

    Thanks for these~ I’ve been eyeing Ghost Planet for awhile now.

    ReplyReply

  40. Nancy B
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 22:05:30

    My top picks would be Firelight or Pushing the Limits, but they all sound good!

    ReplyReply

  41. Jennifer W.
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 09:32:25

    I would love to try Ghost Planet or Forged in Fire.

    ReplyReply

  42. Justine
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 16:43:58

    Crazy Little Thing has such cleverly funny narration. I plan on reading more from Tracy Brogan.

    Tangentially, I’d love to find some Julie James readalikes!

    ReplyReply

  43. Jules
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 21:00:22

    Wow! These all sound cool, but I’d have to go with Ghost Planet. It seems like something up my alley.

    ReplyReply

  44. Sunday Romantic Reflections: Upcoming Books, Deals and Fun Stuff You Might Have Missed (Week of July 21st) | torimacallister
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 11:14:58

    [...] Author has written a treasure of a post, taking the finalists for the RITAs “Best First Book” category and listing read-a-likes from more established authors who are similar. You might just find a new favorite in this crew and [...]

  45. Patoct
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 21:42:21

    Thanks for the interviews and the contest. Hope you had a good time.

    ReplyReply

  46. Alyssa
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 02:31:52

    I’d love to win My Life Next Door or Pushing The LImits!

    ReplyReply

  47. Alison Atlee
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 08:59:58

    @Mary Beth: My pleasure, Mary Beth, thanks!

    ReplyReply

  48. Alison Atlee
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 09:10:26

    @Jessica: You are right, Jessica. Simone’s book was up (and won) in the NSRE category, too, (as was Anna Lee Huber’s book) and that category won’t be included next year. I suppose if NSRE hadn’t been included this year, Anna and Simone could have entered their books as historicals, but with the different expectations, who knows how they would have fared? I love NSRE-type books, and discovered several great reads from the finalist lists, so I’ll miss that category, personally.

    ReplyReply

  49. Alison Atlee
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 09:11:16

    @Patoct: Why, thanks, and I did, Pat! :)

    ReplyReply

  50. Alison Atlee
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 09:12:38

    @TerryS: That was a new question, I think. Glad you liked it!

    ReplyReply

  51. Alison Atlee
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 09:29:22

    @AmyW: :D You’re welcome. I thought the colors would help alert people when they move into a new author. And, fun.

    ReplyReply

  52. GinaD
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 21:16:33

    What a great interview and list of books! I especially like the readalike comments. I’d love to win a copy of The Haunting of Maddy Clare :)

    ReplyReply

  53. BRNZ
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 00:26:08

    Oooh several of these sound good but I must stay true to my SF roots and go with GHOST PLANET

    ReplyReply

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