The Debut Dish: February 2016, Issue #1 (+ Giveaways)

Posted February 7, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 6 Comments

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue featuresIsabel Bandeira (Bookishly Ever After), Kathy MacMillan (Sword and Verse), Emily Skrutskie (The Abyss Surrounds Us), K.C. Held (Holding Court), Ava Jae (Beyond the Red), Riley Redgate (Seven Ways We Lie), and Jeff Garvin (Symptoms of Being Human).


Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
January 12, 2016 from Spencer Hill Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Turning books into advice manuals.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but it happens in the second half, when Phoebe and Dev are counseling 6th grade camp in the Pine Barrens. Those two were so much fun to write together.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my apartment, in a google hangout with my future editors. :)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Salty: Cheese-its/goldfish
Sweet: Gummi bears

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Go Minam, Tae Kyung, Shinwoo, and Jeremy stand-up sticky note holders (I’m a big fan of the k-drama You’re Beautiful, and these are ADORABLE– they’re little fold-up cartoon-y versions of each Anjell band member, and the sticky notes have the pig-rabbit on them)

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Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
January 19, 2016 from HarperTeen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Fantasy romance for language geeks.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is one late in the book where the truth about Raisa’s involvement with the Resistance comes out, and she has to face the devastating consequences of betraying the person she loves most. It’s not a battle, but a conversation, and it requires more bravery than any spy mission or sword fight.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home packing for the camp I direct for deaf kids, which started the following day. Immediately after getting the big news, I spent a week in the woods with a bunch of middle schoolers who were thoroughly unimpressed with my book deal. (Fun fact: one of my middle school campers that week was a girl whose name I had borrowed for one of the characters years ago when she was one of my preschool students and I was first working on the manuscript!)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Marshmallow peeps and bunnies at Easter. (Which is all for the best, since those are only available for a short time each year!) I’m also a sucker for anything gummy!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A rock that resembles a primitive spear point.


The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
February 8, 2016 from Flux
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Pirates vs. kaiju with lesbians.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The scene is Chapter 17 in its entirety. It’s basically Fight Club, and I “broke” it while listening to Fall Out Boy’s Immortals on loop while literally acting my way through it in the loft of my parents’ house. Fortunately my parents weren’t home at the time.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In a statistics discussion section, acting like I was doing work so the TA wouldn’t get suspicious. The email landed in my inbox at the beginning of class, and I didn’t pay attention to ANYTHING from that moment on.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Bugles.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A magic eight ball in the shape of a pirate skull. You lift the eyepatch to see your answer.


Holding Court by K.C. Held
March 1, 2016 from Entangled Teen
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

Describe your book in five words or less.
A rollicking romantic mystery.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
It’s impossible to pick a favorite! But the scene I probably had the most fun writing is one where my main character, Jules, pretends to do a psychic reading for her best friend’s drama club nemesis. My favorite prediction involves prom and the bubonic plague.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Walking on my treadmill desk. I’m lucky I wasn’t seriously injured. Happy dancing on a treadmill is not easy.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Hot Tamales cinnamon candy. The hotter the better!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A miniature gargoyle.

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Beyond the Red by Ava Jae
March 1, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Alien queen and rebel framed.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Welllll I don’t want to get too specific because spoilers, but I will say it involves kissing. Lots of kissing. And sand.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my dorm room! Which doesn’t sound exciting except when you consider my agent had to call back because I was walking to my dorm when she first called and she played it so cool that I had no idea she was calling with The News until the call take two.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Fruit dipped in melted, super-low sugar, super-dark chocolate! Which doesn’t sound like junk food until you consider it’s one of the only sweets I can have, as I try my best not to eat anything with added sugar in it. So. :)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A (clean) paintbrush. I have no idea why it’s there, to be honest.

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Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
March 8, 2016 from Amulet Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Seven deadly sins. One scandal.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I’m kind of a sucker for epiphany scenes. Not to get spoilery, but in one scene, one of the narrators watches someone close to him have a total breakdown, and realizes how much about the world he still doesn’t understand. It’s very vulnerable for him and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting on my bed in my dorm room in fourth floor Old Kenyon!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Every single junk food. All of them. Fries, chicken nuggets, burgers, I’ll eat it all.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Five boxfoxes … I’m an adult, I swear to God. (If you have never seen a boxfox. It is the cutest stuffed animal in the world.)


Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
February 2, 2016 from Balzer + Bray
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Gender-fluid teen’s blog goes viral.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Riley, the protagonist, flees the high school cafeteria after a bout of bullying leads to a vicious anxiety attack. Bec, a mysterious outcast with lightsaber-blue eyes, follows and pulls Riley from the clutches of the attack. Sparks fly, and a rather unconventional friendship (maybe more?) begins.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was sitting at my desk at my day job. When my agent’s name popped up on my phone, I got full body chills and ran outside to take the call. She was walking through Manhattan amidst sirens and honking cabs. I was standing on the curb next to a giant UPS truck. We had to yell into the phone in order to hear each other. When she told me there’d been an offer on my book, there may have been a great deal of screaming on both ends. Allegedly.

What’s your favorite junk food?
There’s a vegan fast food joint in OC called Native Foods. They have something called the Scorpion Burger. It tastes like fulfillment and inner beauty. I feel empty inside because I’m not currently eating one.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The discarded wall-mount for my remote control lightsaber.

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6 responses to “The Debut Dish: February 2016, Issue #1 (+ Giveaways)

  1. Emma A

    I have been wanting to read Bookishly Ever After for about 6 or 7 months now, it just sounds so stinking cute! I love the way it looks and I think the main character sounds like she is someone every girl should be able to relate to who reads, since she wants the picture perfect YA love, but realizes it may not be possible.

  2. Kaitlyn A.

    I have had my eye on Bookishly Ever After for quite some time now! I love reading books with characters that also appreciate/love books themselves!

  3. All of these debuts sound pretty good, and I really loved Sword and Verse. It is a toss up what one I am most excited about next: Bookishly Ever After or Beyond the Red. Bookishly calls to the book nerd in me, who has had more fictional boyfriends than real. And Red is a style that I love, a little sci-fi, a little mysterious, and a little romance. So many books, and never enough time to read them all.
    Layla recently posted…The Return