New Zealander Karina Bliss’s debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, the first of eleven books published through Harlequin SuperRomance. Her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at likesbooks.com. Her new release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain in Karina’s bestselling title, What the Librarian Did.
To find out more about this talented author from New Zealand check out her website and connect with her online at Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Please join me in giving Karina a warm welcome to The Romance Dish!
PJ: Welcome, Karina! We’re pleased to have you visit with us today. Your new book, RISE is the story of a much talked about secondary character from your popular 2010 Harlequin SuperRomance, What the Librarian Did. Please tell our readers what they can expect from this book.
Thanks for inviting me here, PJ, I always enjoy the reviews and commentary on the Romance Dish.
RISE is a redemption story of a guy literally and figuratively at ‘rock’ bottom. The only pure thing about rock icon Zander Freedman is his voice and he’s given up booze and drugs to protect it. Unfortunately they’ve been anesthetizing his conscience for the past twenty years. I like to think of the story as a Glee-style mash up between Sleeping Beauty and The Matrix. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions - manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic, morally ambiguous.
In short, everything she sought in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.
Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed-devil is only too willing to stoke. She’d thought self-control was in her DNA, after all she grew up a minister’s daughter.
She thought wrong.
Zander Freedman has been an outlier - many would say an outcast – for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the break-up of his band to the fall-out on his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph - if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz; Elizabeth's integrity the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats.
All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not make him think.
Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not to fall in love for the first time in his life.
Turns out he is scared of something - being known.
Readers made me take another look at him. When one reader asked for Zander’s story I privately wondered if she needed therapy, but after a dozen asked, I started wondering if I was the crazy one. What did these smart women see in Zander that I couldn’t? So I let him wander into a couple of books to see if we could work together. He made me laugh and that was it.
Janga, who recently reviewed RISE for us, has a few questions for you.
Janga: I had a real attraction-repulsion relationship with Zander before this book and for a few chapters into this book, but I ended up loving him. I really was seduced by this hero. How did you do that?
What helped was that I started from the same point you did, disliking Zander. But I’ve always loved the Henry Wadsworth quote: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” So I began digging for reasons– not excuses–that would explain the way he was, without changing his backstory, or essential character. Zander owns his mistakes and flaws, and I think that's partly what makes him likable - his willingness to shoulder the burden of his past sins. He's already changing for the better as the book begins (admittedly as a byproduct of giving up booze and alcohol to save his voice), and the heroine accelerates that change. Elizabeth doesn't 'save' him. I felt he needed to be active in his own redemption, and his relationships with his ex girlfriend, PA, and new band were there to show his evolution into a better man.
Janga: I totally bought into the worlds of this book. What kind of research did you do?
Lots! I read biographies of rock stars, watched rock documentaries and did internet research on voice issues, pastor’s kids and female biographers as I needed it. I live with two keen guitarists and they were a great resource. The deluge scene when Elizabeth gets stuck in traffic and waterlogged at Zander’s Auckland concert was taken from my own experience at a Foo Fighters concert!
I do think getting the facts straight is important, because readers will then believe the emotional truths you're trying to convey in the story.
Janga: What writers have influenced you most?
An early influence was Susan Elizabeth Philips, I loved her blend of humor and emotion in the Chicago Stars series. Georgette Heyer is my all time favorite writer, I reread her constantly. Larry McMurtry, Laura Kinsale, Joanna Bourne, Betty MacDonald, Sarah Mayberry, Molly O’Keefe, Robyn Carr….I could go on forever. I’m always inspired by books written with no regard for whether they’ll sell or not – I’m thinking of Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith and The Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley, writers who didn’t worry about the market (though Ashley invented one), but wrote what they needed to. Probably all the writers I’ve mentioned push themselves like that. And sometimes it pays off and the book is wonderful and sometimes a book doesn’t quite hit the mark. But I'd rather fail big, than succeed small. Of course there's probably not a viable career in that...G>
PJ: As mentioned above, Zander is a bad-boy rock star. Did you play music while writing this book? If so, what songs were on the playlist?
Karina: I have had a playlist for other books, but oddly I didn’t for this one. In my imagination all the songs were originals so playing someone else’s music seemed counter-productive. I did try and write lyrics for Elizabeth’s song and they were horrendously bad! One of my beta readers, author Sophia James, said, ‘let me try,’ and produced brilliant lyrics within ten minutes. With her permission, I used them in RISE.
PJ: I have to say, I do love the cover of RISE! Did you have any input into its development?
I’m delighted to say I did! I knew exactly what I wanted - spotlights, a stage, a man’s naked back, a stance and an attitude. But cover artist Amber Shah of Book Beautiful took my concept 'to infinity and beyond.'
PJ: RISE kicks off your new Rock Solid series. Are you able to share information about future books in the series and when we might expect them?
I hope to have Jared and Kayla’s ‘rock marriage in trouble’ novella out in June. I’m thinking a love triangle – Jared has to convince Kayla that the rock star he’s becoming will be a more exciting husband than the shy musician he was when they first married. Dimity’s story is probably next in the queue but I can’t decide whether to pair her with Moss, Luther or someone new. All opinions welcome!
Let’s talk about you for a bit.
PJ: Where’s your happy place? (for me, it’s the beach with a cold margarita and a good book)
Twilight anywhere, with a glass of good red, a good book, and a good day’s writing behind me. (I can usually manage two of those – okay fine, it’s the first two).
PJ: You live in the part of the world that most people have on their vacation bucket list. What countries are on your bucket list?
The South Island of New Zealand (I live in the North Island). All my travel money goes on overseas trips and I keep hearing from foreigners how beautiful that part of my country is. I really need to get there.
PJ: What (or who) do you enjoy reading when you’re not busy writing your own books?
Craft books on writing still thrill me (sad, I know), and I love historical romance. Julia Spencer Fleming who writes ‘novels of faith and murder for readers of literary suspense’ was my last glom. It must have taken WEEKS for her publishers to come up with such a painstakingly accurate description. She’s my favorite kind of writer, one who can’t be neatly pigeon-holed!
PJ: Where can readers find you online?
PJ: I understand you’re working on an anthology with Sarah Mayberry and Joan Kilby. Are you able to share any information about the project with our readers?
I’m thrilled to be working with such talented writers. Our novellas will be linked through our heroines, who went to an Australian boarding school together. Each is at a romantic low point in her life when they reunite to attend a Bachelor and Spinster ball in the Outback. My heroine meets the security guard hero while wearing a cowsuit. It’s a lot of fun to write.
PJ: Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Karina. We wish you all the best with RISE and your other future projects. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Would you like to ask our readers a question to start the conversation rolling?
Thank you for having me here!
I’d love reading recommendations from readers on books they’ve enjoyed that don’t fit tidily into one genre, (like Last Hour of Gann or Gabaldon’s Outlander series). Or a book they're passionate about because it was different to what they expected.
One randomly chosen person leaving a comment on today's post will receive a print copy of RISE from Karina Bliss. Open internationally.
Zander....*drops mike and walks away*ReplyDelete
And I can see him doing it!Delete
A fabulous post thank you. The series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE by George RR Martin has captured my imagination & attention.ReplyDelete
Another series I need to find time to read. There just aren't enough hours for all the great books out there!Delete
I love that series, and like every other reader I'm anxious for the next book..and yet I want him to have a life...and yet I want him to finish the series. I did hear recently that he won't have the next book out this year, but will publish an anthology of his short stories.ReplyDelete
I definitely want to read Rise. I've heard such good things about this book.ReplyDelete
I had read Sarah Jio's Violets of March. I loved it. Immediately went to the library and read all the others she wrote. I really enjoy those stories . Karina I am happy to have met you here and look forward to reading your books.
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) co
I've heard of this book, but forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder!Delete
I have this book on my tbr but haven't had time to read it yet. Sounds like I need to move it up the list, Carol.Delete
Trust me, I put it off for over a month. I read every book she wrote the following week because I loved it so much. LolDelete
Congratulations to Karina on her new book and the great reviews. I do enjoy a redeemed villain. I don't read a lot of fantasy stories but I did enjoy Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan. It was an interesting and unique story.ReplyDelete
I read this one on Courtney Milan's recommendation, and really enjoyed it.Delete
I think I got the recommendation for this one from Courtney too.Delete
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly was memorable. Thanks for this lovely feature.ReplyDelete
This sounds like one I'll be taking to the beach this summer. I love this type of book, especially when the Amazon reviews compare it to The Thorn Birds, A Woman of Substance and The Shell Seekers.Delete
the BDB series by JR WardReplyDelete
I've never gotten into this series but I have many friends who adore it!Delete
I loved this series, Zhadist's was the standout for me.Delete
I'd recommend Me Before You by JoJo Moyes--especially if you don't mind a few sobs/sniffles with your wine! This book has a real emotional punch, great characters and an intriguing plot.ReplyDelete
Thanks for visiting, Karina. Rise sounds great.
A good suggestion, LSUReader. Thanks!Delete
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult - not sure what category they call it. But it was very good!!!ReplyDelete
I enjoy her books. Thanks for the suggestion!Delete
This book is fantastic, congratulations to you Karina, on the sucess of this book ! My new found love is Nalini Singh's Archangel series, I know the author of this novel is a big fan! But seriously amazing characters, great story line it wont let anyone down who reads it !ReplyDelete
There are many Singh fans out there who would wholeheartedly agree, Mayanna. Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Amen to that. Her next rockstar book is out in March. She does everything brilliantly.Delete
Cheers for the Julia Spencer-Fleming mention. I love Clare and Russ. They are second only to Margaret Maron's Deborah and Dwight on my list of favorite mystery couples.I think JSF's love of romance influenced her development of those two and their relationship.ReplyDelete
I recently finished Sarah Addison Allen's new novel, First Frost, and fell in love with another of her books. I love the blend of magical realism, family relationships, romance, and mystery that SAA weaves, and her lyrical prose is a delight. I do recommend reading Garden Spells before first Frost. In romance, Rose Lerner is creating some of the most compelling characters I've encountered in historical romance, and they are refreshingly different. True Pretenses is her latest.
And I cast my vote for a Dimity-Luther pairing. What an opposites-attract tale that would be!
I read a Rose Learner interview recently and thought, 'must get her book!' I haven't heard of Margaret Maron so off to check her out now!Delete
I am tending to Dimity-Luther, though I got a NOOOOO from one reader. I talked her down though. :)
I loved What the Librarian Did, so I'm happy to see a second book in the series.ReplyDelete
My series recommendation is for Carolyn Crane's Urban Fantasy Disillusionist series. There's something about the idea of what amounts to super heroes who get there powers from their neuroses that tickled me from the start and she does a great job with it.
Super heroes who get their powers from their neuroses" SOLD!Delete
I absolutely loved RISE! I truly loved the characters you created, Karina. As I stated over on Goodreads - I kept reading because I didn’t want to leave the world you created. This was a hit all the way around for me. It has everything I love – hero and heroine I really liked, believable progression in the relationship, girlfriend connections, great dialogue, great sex and kids! You give me good characters and I'll follow you anywhere! Hahaha I'm a huge fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and she does the same thing - all the relationships become important to me not just the central romantic one - the bromances between the guys, the girl connections and the interactions with the kids all matter. I loved how Zander was with the kids, especially Maddie - cracked me up!ReplyDelete
And I'm with Janga - I like Dimity and Luther. I love opposites attract, especially when one or both have huge misconceptions about the other.
One of my favorite books is MARIANA by Susanna Kearsley. I don't think she fits into any one category and her books are amazing.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a writing inspiration for me; I love her Chicago Stars series so much, and It Had To Be You is one of my all-time favourite books. I so glad all the things I wanted to achieve with RISE came through for you. I really enjoy Susanna Kearsley, but I haven't read Mariana. Thanks for the recommendation.ReplyDelete
I just read Radiance by Grace Draven and it blew me away. Fantasy, scifi, aliens but set in a medieval fuedal society... it was awesome! Congrats to Karina on her new release! Definitely going to be adding to my wantlist :) Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
One of the best books I have read in a long time is not a romantic one but one of survival and courage...that is Unbroken by Laura Hilenbrand, based on a true story.ReplyDelete
I read a lot of books. The best one I have read in the last could of weeks is Sabrina Jeffries IF THE VISCOUNT FALLS.ReplyDelete
Wow I feel like I'm a squirrel collecting nuts for winter. Thanks for the recommendations and keep 'em coming.ReplyDelete
Authors Allie Burton, Lori Handeland & Mercedes LackeyReplyDelete
Some great recommendations. One of the best authors I have read is Steven Manchester. His books are full of emotion.ReplyDelete
Some truly interesting questions answered here. I was surprised at the destination you have on your bucket list. I will check the spot on the net and see why it fascinated you so.ReplyDelete
Karina, many thanks for visiting with us today! I wish you all the best with RISE. Can't wait to read it! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks to everyone stop stopped by today. I have a long list of books to add to my must-read list. Now I just need to find some time! lolReplyDelete
Thanks for having me, PJ, and thanks everyone for your recommendations.ReplyDelete
So many wonderful books and authors! One special favorite is It Had To Be You by the great Susan Elizabeth Phillips.ReplyDelete
I just added Rise to my TBR list. Thanks for the bonus read!