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Thursday, February 20, 2020

An Evening With Berkley Authors at the Barclay Book Club

The Intercontinental Hotel held its first Barclay Book Club this week, hosting three authors from Berkley Publishing. Deputy Director of Publicity for Penguin Random House Erin Galloway moderated a panel featuring three authors from their Berkley imprint, Chanel Cheeton (Next Year in Havana), Andie J. Christopher (Not the Girl You Marry) and Lyssa Kay Adams (The Bromance Book Club).

After appetizers, a signature cocktail, (a spritz made with sponsor Pomp & Whimsy gin) and a chance to mingle, the crowd got to hear from the authors. Erin began by asking the authors to give their elevator pitch for their books. Lyssa's The Bromance Book Club is about a group of men, including a famous baseball player, who secretly get together to read romance novels to better understand their women.

Andie described Not The Girl You Marry as an updated gender diversity take on How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, but this time it's the guy trying to lose the girl. Chanel's Next Year in Havana is a multigenerational story about a young Cuban woman who returns to Havana to spread her grandma's ashes, and uncovers family secrets.
Chanel Cleeton, Andi J. Christopher, Lyssa Kay Adams

Lyssa spoke about being married for 20 years and how she wanted to write about what happens after the happily ever after. She said she has gotten much feedback from readers, stating that they feel she has been in their house, and when she shared that her husband still doesn't know where the towels are kept in their home, the audience of mostly women laughed in recognition. She also got laughs when she said that her husband asks her to make sure she tells readers that this book is not biographical.

Andie shared that she has been dating for 20 years, and the many things that have happened to her on dates definitely informed the "stupid stuff" her main character of Jack does. She also wanted to write from her experience as a biracial woman, as her main character of Hannah is.

Chanel said that her answers "won't be as funny or sexy" as the other authors, and that her inspiration came from her grandma's love of Cuba and that she wanted to explore her Cuban/American experience in her story.

We learned that Lyssa listens to Led Zeppelin's Immigration Song twice to get ready to write, but she doesn't know why. Andie has a day job as an attorney, so she walks her dog at 5am, then writes in the morning for 30 minutes before going to work. Chanel never met a spreadsheet she didn't love (she spoke very fondly of spreadsheets more than once).

Erin posed a question she found on Goodreads, asking the authors to describe the perfect kiss in three words. Lyssa chose spontaneous, lingering, and fuzzy (she was talking about her dog there, which elicited chuckles). She also said forearms should be fuzzy (talking about men). Andie's words were confidence, filthy, and feral, which tells me her books might be pretty steamy. Chanel chose spontaneous, passionate, and romantic. Erin piped in that she "has no problem with a waxed physique".

In some of the more interesting comments, Alyssa said that the romance genre is not about creating the perfect man. She likes to explore what the world looks like through the lens of men versus women, using the example of the different experience of men walking alone at night compared to women walking alone at night. That resonated with all of us.

Andie spoke about wanting to write something for herself- a book about two people coming together as equals, and that it was fun to write a woman who says what she thinks. She said that everyone wants love, even if they aren't "soft".

Chanel spoke about the "ton of badass women" in history, including the Cuban women who fought alongside men in the fight for their independence from Spain. She told us that women ran their families, and shared that her aunt embezzled money from her husband's medical practice to help family members who needed it. She wants to "try to shine a light on forgotten women" in her novels.

Erin asked for a final takeaway from the women. Lyssa wants people to know that problems that may seem insurmountable in a relationship are just a bump in the road. She made everyone laugh when she said that you can't be together for 20 years and not hate your partner at some point. Her grandma told her that someday you will sit across from each other at the table and think "Why?", but that you will get over it.

Andie laughed and said that now she wants to "run right out and get married" after hearing that. She hopes that people laugh and cry reading her books, and realize that no matter who you are, you deserve love.

Chanel wants people to feel entertained, and escape from everything going on. The greatest gift she has received is when people tell her that they see their own family story in her pages.

The audience had some interesting questions. One reader asked Chanel how she heard about Reese Witherspoon choosing her book for her Hello Sunshine Book Club, and Chanel teared up recounting being in the car with her husband when she got an email from her editor's assistant with the subject line "!!!!!".

Another woman asked is they could put their characters in another genre, what would it be? Andie laughed and said that Hannah would be great in True Crime, Lyssa thought that Mac could be in a Self-Help book for his poor fashion sense, and Chanel came up with the Thriller genre.

Upcoming books from the authors include a sequel from Lyssa Kay Adams titled Undercover Bromance (March 10), featuring two characters from The Bromance Book Club who help a woman bring down a serial harrasser chef. Andie J. Christopher's Not That Kind of Guy (April 14) shares the story of Jack's sister and an intern who falls in love with her, even though she is not encouraging him. Chanel Cleeton's next book is The Last Train to Key West (June 16), set in 1935 during a hurricane when three women's lives intersect.

I plan on diving into all six of the books mentioned here, and will post full reviews.

Lyssa Kay Adams' website is here.

Andie J. Christopher's website is here.

Chanel Cleeton's website is here.

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