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

Posted September 18, 2016 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 6 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly 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 of The Debut Dish features Kerri Maniscalco (Stalking Jack the Ripper), Tom Crosshill (The Cat King of Havana), Kim Zarins (Sometimes We Tell the Truth), Camden Leigh (Love Me Crazy), and Lindsey Rosin (Cherry).


Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
September 20, 2016 from Jimmy Patterson
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Victorian CSI set in London.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have two favorites, but one is where Audrey Rose and Thomas dress up and stalk the streets of Whitechapel together, hoping to cross paths with the Ripper. Their interactions were really fun to craft, even when there were serious and terrifying events unfolding around them.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
My agent had called me on a holiday weekend to let me know an offer miiiiight be heading our way the next day, so I was at home waiting with my phone glued to my hand the whole morning. I totally didn’t sleep at ALL and was trying to be cautiously optimistic, but I swore colorfully and cried when it was a yes. Fun fact: Even with all of that prepping for the possible call, I still missed it initially because I made myself a smoothie.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have a lot of food allergies so I don’t eat junk food often, but every once in a while I really enjoy tater tots. I have to make them really crispy and then I add dill and onion powder to them. They taste like sour cream and onion potato chips that have come straight from the fryer and they are sinfully delicious.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Haha oh man. It’s going to sound like I stash bodies in my yard, but I have this amazing skeletal hand holding an anatomical heart in a little glass coffin. My parents got it for me when my book sold as a celebratory token, and it’s very STALKING JACK THE RIPPER. I love being able to see it while I’m working on book two. And it’s just pretty darn cool :D


The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill
September 6, 2016 from Katherine Tegen Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Cat video tycoon dances salsa!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Rick tries to convince his (disinterested) romantic interest Ana to go spend the summer in Havana with him — leading to the discovery that it’s illegal to hold hands in school in Tennessee.

Oh, and there’s the duct-taped airplane scene. And the jetpack kitten cat video scene.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Out at a restaurant. Timeliest excuse for extra cake ever!

What’s your favorite junk food?
I don’t consume much junk food, but cake cake CAAAKE.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have no desk. I write either standing up or slouching in my fancy motorized bed (the back swings up). The oddest thing in sight might be a bata drum, though — I have loved bata drumming ever since I started learning Afro-Cuban dance & music in Havana. Check out the rhythmic complexity!

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Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins
September 6, 2016 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this contemporary retelling of The Canterbury Tales, a group of teens on a bus ride to Washington, DC, each tell a story—some fantastical, some realistic, some downright scandalous—in pursuit of the ultimate prize: a perfect score.

Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind:
-Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
-He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
-He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey.
-And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC.

But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class.

But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind—can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say.

In her debut novel, Kim Zarins breathes new life into Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in a fresh and contemporary retelling that explores the dark realities of high school, and the subtle moments that bring us all together.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Chaucer retold with modern teens.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a kissing scene that took me (and my agent!) by surprise, which means it would totally spoil things for you if I summarized it. But that was probably my favorite. Scenes aside, I loved all the quirky or fun things that turned up in the book, like the vampire crow, the doughnut fight, the fantasy elements, and the feminism.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I came home from work and found out my agent called. I called her back and paced and paced in my backyard as she shared the news that Simon Pulse made an offer. You’d think a person would scream for joy, but I was the opposite, just really hushed and kind of happy-freaked.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Cream cheese frosting, chocolate, eggnog, marzipan. In the Starbucks line I struck up a conversation with a total stranger and insisted that we need more old-fashioned ice cream parlors like Fenton’s, which she plugged into her phone. I feel like I really made a difference in someone’s life, which is awesome.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My desk is covered with books and papers for my research as a medievalist. This minute, I’ve got work on rape and medieval women, androgyny, cannibalism, and giants. So my desk is awesomely cluttered. You can see why cleaning it off would be a tragedy.

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Love Me Crazy by Camden Leigh
September 27, 2016 from Bloomsbury Spark
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

“We’re broken in the most screwed-up perfect way. It was inevitable we’d end up together.”

Cassidy Beck is focused on one thing, and one thing only: planning the Southern wedding of the century in Lucas Hill, South Carolina. Fresh from a tragic breakup, Cassidy’s not in the mood for any distractions. But when antebellum hottie Quinn Covington arrives in all his sexy, tattooed glory, he might prove to be the biggest distraction of them all.

MIA ever since his father’s death, Quinn doesn’t plan to stay any longer than it takes to start his dad’s vintage truck. But the sight of Cassidy trying to fend off his family’s pet turkey sends him for a loop. Red-haired and fierce, she’s just as broken as he is. But even though Cassidy’s past makes her the only one able to understand Quinn’s own scars, they also make her wary. After all, how can she trust him with her heart when everyone else she’s ever given it to has thrown it away?

Sexy, heart-wrenching, and full of Southern charm, this new contemporary romance from Camden Leigh shows just what happens when two people who are perfectly broken end up piecing each other back together.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Sassy, Sexy Southern NA Romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have several, but my favorite has to be the meet-cute. It involves a territorial pet turkey named Davey Crockett, the events planner on the client’s kitchen island and the tattooed black sheep of the family who wants nothing more than to get the hell out of Dodge…until he sees the sexy firecracker waving a meat cleaver at his sister’s turkey.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I work for an interior design firm and was in the middle of setting props for a photoshoot. My hands were full of very breakable, expensive items. (And my heart was racing to the point I thought they’d shatter!)

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pizza combos and licorice jelly beans, but not together.

(And now I’ve got the munchies and need to make a run to the gas station.)

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Hmmmm, that’s a toss up between the very real looking tarantula my kid put on my keyboard to scare me (he succeeded) or the egg-shaped Weeble Wobble of a Native American from when I was a kid. (Does knowing that that age me?)

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Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
August 16, 2016 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this honest, frank, and funny debut novel, four best friends make a pact during their senior year of high school to lose their virginities—and end up finding friendship, love, and self-discovery along the way.

To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan.

Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together… separately.

Layla’s got it in the bag. Her serious boyfriend, Logan, has been asking for months.

Alex has already done it. Or so she says.

Emma doesn’t know what the fuss is all about, but sure, she’ll give it a shot.

And Zoe, well, Zoe can’t even say the o word without bursting into giggles.

Will everything go according to plan? Probably not. But at least the girls have each other every hilarious, heart-warming, cringe-inducing step of the way.

From debut author Lindsey Rosin, Cherry is a coming-of-age, laugh-out-loud tale of first times, last chances, and the enduring friendships that make it all worthwhile.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Female friendships are so important.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
What a great question… I haven’t thought about this so specifically. Wow. Okay. It’s hard to choose one singular favorite, but one of my favorites is a rather poignant one that happens towards the end of the novel. Without giving anything away, the four girls – Alex, Zoe, Emma and Layla – all end up on the trampoline in Layla’s backyard. There’s some laughing and crying… it’s a real “all the feels” kind of moment. I grew up with a trampoline in my backyard, and have a lot of wonderful memories from high school that are associated with it. This scene in particular makes me think of some of my real life moments, which is why I think I love it so much.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in my office, actually in my chair where I’m sitting right now. I sold Cherry as a book proposal, so as soon as I found out I was being published I was also struck by the realization that I had A LOT of work to do. It was – and still is – one of the coolest feelings in the world.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Does cheese count? Haha, that’s my all-time favorite food. I love Welch’s fruit snacks and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Sun Chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A giant pink, yellow and orange lollipop.

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

  1. Megan

    Great list of books! Stalking Jack The Ripper and Cherry have been on my TBR list for awhile and Love Me Crazy is now one of them too!

  2. Megan

    My fondest high school memories are from the musicals I was involved with, the debate team and the trips we took, and of course Friday Night Football!!!

  3. Emma A

    One of my favorite high school memories is choir class. The first of our choir directors had us sing collections of Disney songs after our Spring concert since we didn’t have anything new to learn for another concert. We also got to watch movies about every other week. I miss that class so much!

  4. Summer

    My favorite retelling I’ve read so far as been Cress by Marissa Meyer, just full of great adventure, banter, and swoony romance.