In March 2014 I was on my first panel as an author, Deadly New Voices, at Left Coast Crime with four fabulous debut authors: Martha (M.P. Cooley), Carlene O’Neil, Lori Rader-Day, and Holly West. At the time only Holly had a book out so I thought it would be fun to catch up with everyone and see what had happened since the panel. Each of us (except for Carlene whose book just came out May 2015) have been nominated for a best first novel award and some for multiple awards!
Martha Cooley: Our debut panel at Left Coast kicked off what was an amazing year! Well, not quite a year–Ice Shear came out last July. Everything between May and September was a hazy blur of promotion, but when I emerged on the other side I found myself with a BEAUTIFUL book in my hand and part of a fantastic community of writers. Ice Shear had a nice reception when it came out–Oprah had it on her list of best thrillers of summer 2014, it received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, and was named one of the best books of the year by the Sun Sentinel. The book has picked up some awards nominations, including the Barry Award, The Left Coast Crime Rosebud Award, the Anthony, and the Strand Magazine Critics Award.
In the last few months, I’ve published a prequel and sequel to Ice Shear. FAINT TRACE is an e-book novella that shows what June lost before Ice Shear began–a home, her husband, a career, California. FLAME OUT is a sequel that investigates past crimes. June is working to solve an attempted murder in abandoned factory that had been set on fire and digs up secrets that hit close to home for June and her family. Currently, I’m hard at work on Savage Gods, my next book with William Morrow.
Carlene O’Neil: Thank you Sherry for inviting us to spend time with the Wickeds. All of you are such fantastic writers and I feel like an honorary Wicked; I was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, so, although I grew up in California, I come from “good Yankee stock,” as my grandmother was fond of saying.
It’s been such an amazing year since Left Coast Crime. My first book, One Foot in the Grape, was published by Berkley and came out on May 5th. This was the culmination of a life-long dream, and I’ve been having a lot of fun, even when standing in the middle of a Barnes and Noble crying my eyes out. It’s there (sob), on the shelves (hiccup.) Since Left Coast Crime, I’ve also been on panels at Bouchercon and the San Diego Writers Conference. I’m kind of a ham. Who knew.
In addition to writing and the Dreaded Day Job, I’ve managed to clear some free time to devote to research. I need to make sure the wine tasting, growing, tasting, bottling, and tasting details in the book are accurate. In fact, I’m so excited to be in Paris as you read this, getting a combined vacation/research trip in. Also, last month I had a chance to spend the weekend in Temecula, California, a wine growing region a short drive from San Diego, and I’m hoping to revisit Monterey and Carmel, a beautiful part of the state. If you are familiar with the town of Carmel, my fictional town of Cypress Cove may sound familiar. Just saying.
What’s next? I just got word from my editor that the next book in the series, Ripe for Murder, will be out March 2016. This time my protagonist, Penny Lively, gets to travel to the Napa Valley where she manages to get involved in a murder on the Wine Train. Lori Rader-Day: What l remember from our panel was laughing. We had so much fun — so much has happened since that day! The Black Hour launched on July 8, 2014, and I spent the rest of the year going wherever my Google Calendar said to go. I had a launch party in Chicago with about 80 of my nearest and dearest friends, and then another launch party in my hometown, at the library where I first learned to be a voracious reader. In all, I did about 30 events.
The Black Hour had an embarrassingly good year, getting some good reviews and earning nominations for the Mary Higgins Clark Award (I got to go to the Edgars! Stephen King was there!), the Left Coast Crime Rosebud Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original, and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. The Black Hour even managed a couple of wins: the Lovey Award for Best First Novel and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association Mate E. Palmer Award in Communications for Fiction.
The biggest news is that The Black Hour has a little sister! Little Pretty Things will be released on July 7. I’ve also already sold my third book, still in progress, for next July. So here we go. I’m just really glad to have had that deadly first panel with you ladies. We had so much fun—and we’re just getting started.
Holly West: It’s been a great year and a half since our panel at Left Coast Crime in 2014. The second book in my Mistress of Fortune series, Mistress of Lies, came out in September 2014 and in 2015, the first in the series, Mistress of Fortune, was nominated for a Left Coast Crime Rosebud Award for Best First Novel. Now, after a whirlwind debut year, I’m back at my writing desk, working on a new book set in modern day Venice, California, featuring amateur sleuth Mia Bartlett, a bartender who works at the oldest bar in Los Angeles. It turns out that walls can talk when a renovation turns up a mysterious case of champagne set aside by the bar’s gangster owner during Prohibition. It’s a discovery someone will die for. In the meantime, look for short stories from me in a few upcoming anthologies–publishing dates to TBD.
Sherry:Thanks for stopping by ladies. It was so great to hear about all of your achievements. I think you all must be good luck! My first book Tagged for Death came out in December 2014 and was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The Longest Yard Sale comes out June 30th. And I’ve turned in All Murders Final which comes out in May 2016.
Readers: I hope you add these books to your summer reading piles! What else are you looking forward to reading this summer?