The Debut Dish: Joanna Ruth Meyer, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Lianne Oelke, & Ben Guterson (+ Giveaway)

Posted January 14, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 9 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 Joanna Ruth Meyer (Beneath the Haunting Sea), Rachel Lynn Solomon (You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone), Lianne Oelke (Nice Try, Jane Sinner), and Ben Guterson (Winterhouse).


Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer
January 9, 2018 from Page Street
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.

It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods’ history—and her own—the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.

Describe your book in five words or less.
The Silmarillion meets Jane Austen!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is actually the epilogue, but I can’t tell you about that because SPOILERS. One of my other favorite scenes is when Talia arrives at the Ruen-Dahr, the dreary, mysterious mansion she’s banished to, and meets Wen. He’s shocked to see her, and things go badly!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
The initial interest from my publisher came in June 2016—I was checking my email at a stoplight (as you do), and found a note from my agent with Page’s inquiry as to wether SEA was still available. There were other moments leading up to the actual offer, but that’s what started it all!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Oreo cookies. Double stuff, or don’t bother. :D

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Currently I do a lot of writing *not* at my desk—right now, for example, I have my laptop on the floor. To the left is my 5.5 month old son, to the right my cat! Does that count? ;)


You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
January 2, 2018 from Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Twin sisters with opposite fates.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Hmm…most of them are spoilers! I’ll go with this one: there’s a scene about 1/4 into the book where the twin protagonists are on a weekend trip to Canada with their parents. They haven’t been speaking much (for many reasons), and they’re both tiptoeing around each other. In the hotel room, one of them turns on the TV, which is playing a cheesy movie they used to like when they were younger. They start making fun of it, tentatively at first because they’re not sure how the other will react, and slowly slip back into something resembling friendship. It’s a fleeting moment — they’ll have to go through many more obstacles and dig much deeper before they can resolve all their issues — but a very sweet one, I think.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I work from home, and I was on a conference call when my agent called me. I saw her area code, freaked out, and let the phone go to voicemail. When I listened, she said to call her back asap, and after I learned we had an offer and danced a little with my dog, I had to hop on another conference call. I remember IMing one of my coworkers about what happened, and she told me to get off the conference call right away and go celebrate, which I did!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Lately I’ve been obsessed with these one-minute chocolate mug cakes from the baking aisle of the grocery store — you add milk, zap them in the microwave, and voila, a perfect little cake.

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

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Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
January 9, 2018 by Clarion Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

Describe your book in five words or less.
College, reality TV, angst, snark.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s this one challenge in the reality show HOUSE OF ORANGE where Jane and her competitors have to live inside a van. Last person left wins. Jane spends days- DAYS- inside that van, with pretty much the worst character I’ve ever written. It’s disgusting and uncomfortable and kind of hilarious.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at work when my agent called to say I had an offer. I was kind of in shock. I pretty much pretended nothing happened as no one I worked with knew I wrote a book! I definitely had celebratory beers with my boyfriend that night, though.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Caramel popcorn. Or salt and vinegar chips!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An engraved, gold plated fidget spinner that my sister gave to me for being in her bridal party.


Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
January 2, 2018 from Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

An enchanting urban fantasy middle-grade debut―the first book in a trilogy―set in a magical hotel full of secrets.

Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?

Mystery, adventure, and beautiful writing combine in this exciting debut richly set in a hotel full of secrets.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Heroine discovers a magical book.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I enjoy a scene early in the novel when my main character, Elizabeth Somers, explores the vast library inside the lavish Winterhouse Hotel, which is where she is staying over the Christmas holiday. I love the winter season, I love enormous lodges and mansions, and I love libraries, of course; so it was fun to write about a character who is drawn, mysteriously, to a strange book seemingly forgotten on a shelf in a quiet room.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at work. I quit about three months later.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Every so often, a hamburger from Dick’s Drive-In in Seattle really hits the spot. If that doesn’t officially qualify as junk food, I’ll go with an Almond Joy candy bar–I really love those.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Very little that might qualify as “odd” on my desk right now–unless postage stamps are odd. I do have “Puzzle No. 3444,” a cryptic crossword torn from the last page of a magazine to which I subscribe. I love cryptic crosswords and have a folder of them I’ve been filling for years.

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9 responses to “The Debut Dish: Joanna Ruth Meyer, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Lianne Oelke, & Ben Guterson (+ Giveaway)

  1. Kay

    I’m a new follower to this blog and I love this! So fun to see the new authors, read some interesting questions, and then put more books on my list! Love it! Thanks for doing this!

  2. danielle hammelef

    I can’t wait to read You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone because I’ve never read a book about Huntington’s Disease and I love family stories in YA.