Yay! The news is out!!! And you can already add it on Goodreads HERE!
I am beyond thrilled to work with the amazing Vicki Lame (of WICKED SAINTS, RED WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE, and more!) and the team at Wednesday Books to bring this duology to life.
(Did I fangirl just a little on our call? Why, yes I did! And let me tell you, when the editor for RWARB compliments your book’s banter, it’s surreal. Excuse me while I check that goal off my writerly bucket list real quick.)
Wednesday Books is a relatively new imprint and has already launched some incredible titles, with flair and creativity. I’m honored by their enthusiastic and vision for my debut and I know they’ll put their heart and soul into launching it.
If you’re up for a self-indulgent ramble on how this book and book deal came to be, feel free to read on. If not, I hope you’ll add THE LAST FINESTRA on GoodReads and/or follow me on your platform of choice: GoodReads, twitter @ethiedee, Instagram @ektwrites, or Facebook: E.K. Thiede for updates!
Cue self-indulgent reminiscing…..
Three years ago I completed PitchWars with a book I thought for sure was the one. It wasn’t. And I wasn’t sure I’d ever write something I loved as much. But I tried again, and my next manuscript became my Author Mentor Match book… It also wasn’t the book.
So, in February 2019, when I first started this book, I was a bit disgruntled and quite disillusioned. I needed to rekindle my love of writing and find some joy to bounce back from the disappointment of shelving yet another manuscript after yet another unsuccessful trek through the query trenches. I decided to indulge myself, to put aside thoughts of marketability, and I entertained myself by mining my favorite tropes, ships, and characteristics of my favorite movie and book genres:
-sweeping, immersive settings perfected by fantasy
-dazzling, apocalyptic stakes done so well in science fiction books and superhero movies
-the humor and adrenaline of blockbuster disaster/action movies. (Have I ever mentioned that my father cited the movie Armageddon in his toast at my wedding?)
-unapologetic heart and banter, a la RomComs
-found families and coming of age struggles, YA trademarks
Instead of worrying about avoiding “overdone” tropes or YA Fantasy cliches, I took all my favorites and smashed them together into what was, essentially, the recipe for my joy. Bodyguard love interest? Yes, please. Grumpy and sunshine? Of course! Enemies to friends to lovers? Obviously.
I set the story on an island inspired by my cherished memories of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, with subterranean tunnels and harbor caves to honor the Dragonrider books that first made me into a SciFi/Fantasy fan.
It was such a delight that I often found myself reading through my own manuscript just for fun, but I genuinely had no idea whether anyone else would want to read it. Witty banter and fumbling attempts at flirtation in the midst of catastrophe are very much my thing, but darker fantasy has taken center stage in recent years, and it seemed like a gamble to pair a seemingly dark premise with a bright Mediterranean island setting, RomCom-style dialogue, and characters who can’t help cracking “that’s what she said” type jokes as the world crumbles around them.
I didn’t know if this book would ever leave my laptop, but I was having too much fun to stop. And as it took shape, I began to realize how much of myself was in the details, too, from the rituals my main character, Alessa, remembers from her childhood, the doubts and insecurities she’s struggling to overcome, to the dynamic between her and Dante, the cynical loner/street-fighter she coaxes into becoming her protector… and then pesters until his prickly facade starts to crack.
Without meaning to, I’d poured a hefty dose of me into these characters and this story, and that made it so much more daunting when it came time to find out if anyone else would like it, too.
When I finally shared it with critique partners, though, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and I was overjoyed when I got an offer of representation a few weeks after I began querying.
Back in the fall, I found an inexpensive but very cute couch I loved (it has storage in the chaise lounge!) and I decided I would let myself buy it if and when I sold my first book. I declared it my “book deal couch” in a moment of determined optimism.
Anyway. I went on sub.
And the world crumbled.
The odds are always long in publishing, and going on submission in the midst of a global crisis didn’t leave me feeling too optimistic about my odds of making it to the finish line.
So I went ahead and bought the couch.
I figured my chances of selling any time soon were sunk, and after weeks trapped at home with my cranky children and months of self- isolation to come, I figured I deserved a “consolation prize” couch even more than a “book deal” couch.
Before the couch arrived, my wonderful agent let me know at least one editor was already reading and enjoying it, and told me to send along that book two synopsis I’d promised to work on weeks earlier.
Oops. Hadn’t quite polished that sucker up, yet (it felt like bad luck!) but I rushed to finish it with her feedback, and sent it along.
A day or so later, we heard the same editor was taking it to second reads–a good sign, but no guarantee. Many a book has died a quiet death at this stage in the process.
I settled in to wait, knowing it could be a while before I heard whether we’d go to acquisitions or not, and even if we did, that it might end there.
My agent had told me when we started sub that she would email with regular updates and “promising” news, but only call with an offer.
So when my phone rang in my hand one day (yeah, I was checking my email again) I was stunned.
I still can’t quite believe I got an offer before the couch arrived.
A pre-empt offer. Which I barely knew anything about, honestly.
What followed was a lot of excitement, emails, phone calls, negotiations (a good agent is worth their weight in gold!) and a big decision to make, but in the end, it seemed abundantly clear that I’d found the perfect home for my book, and it was clear the folks at Wednesday Books loved my book as much as I did.
After years, two mentorships, and multiple trunked books, I’m as stunned as anyone by the dizzying ride this book has taken me on already, but I’m honored and grateful that the book that brought me joy when I needed it most was able to bring so much joy and escapism to the team at Wednesday, that they want to share it with readers.
And in 2022, I’m so excited I’ll get to share it with all of you.
Until then, I’ll be celebrating… on my new couch.