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AWARD-WINNING DEBUT RELEASE!

Click cover to buy

Click cover to buy

Can you hear us shrieking in triumph here at Kiss and Thrill? Today is DEBUT DAY for Krista Hall, one of our talented authors!

BROKEN PLACES is the romantic suspense novel that WON the prestigious Golden Heart® Award last year. (I should know, I read Krista’s acceptance speech to 2,000 romance writers!)

BROKEN PLACES is a riveting, authentic glimpse into Hispanic gangs in DC. The violent culture, lingo, signs and graffiti (also known as tagging) are so realistic I figured Krista had worked on a gang task force or dated an FBI hottie. No joke. There were scenes where my heart was in my throat for the danger the main gangbanger, Bandit faced.

It’s my honor to bring you Krista’s debut interview:

You are literally ‘realizing your dream’ today. How does it feel?

Exciting! Broken Places is a story that wouldn’t let go of me. I’ve been working on it for four years. I loved writing it and was determined to find a way to publish it in 2014.

What does Chingazos mean?fist-graffiti

Chingazos (or variant, chingasos) is Spanish slang for hard punches or blows. I added the word loco or crazy to emphasize the unpredictability of gang violence. My cover designer, Naomi Raine created this graphic for the Chingazos Locos gang symbol. What do you think?

Cool! T-shirts for all!

IMG_0467This story WON the prestigious RWA Golden Heart® Award. (A ceremony you were unable to attend.) Give us a glimpse of how you heard and what you did.

On Twitter. I was reading Sarah Wendell’s (@Smart Bitches) tweets as the awards were announced. I couldn’t believe my eyes when my name popped up and my twitter feed exploded with congratulations. (Thank you, K&T and GH sisters!)

Then I switched to a video feed and watched you OWN the podium, Sarah. You were awesome—so poised and elegant. I was not (T-shirt, running shorts, ponytail), but I was wearing my Lucky 13Lucky 13s pin. 🙂 I still owe you a bottle of Champagne. Make that two bottles. We need to celebrate your nomination for the 2014 Golden Heart® Award.

(Krista, this post is not about me…) 😉 Why did you title this novel BROKEN PLACES?

A couple of years ago, when my book group was reading The Paris Wife, I was inspired to reread Hemingway’s novels. There is a line from A Farewell To Arms that made me think of the characters in BP, particularly FBI Agent Cruz Larsen: “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

He wants to shake Trevy up so that she’ll “rip off those rose-colored glasses and take a good hard look at the real world. Then maybe she’d see what he saw. Violence that didn’t care about good or bad, innocent or depraved, right or wrong.”

Montrose Park Sundial, a pivotal location in the story!

Montrose Park Sundial, a pivotal location in the story!

What type of research did you do to make the gang behavior, lingo and violence so authentic?

There were some high profile MS-13 (a violent, transnational Latino gang) trials making local news when I started writing Broken Places so The Washington Post reporting was a trove of information. Also relevant interviews on NPR’s Fresh Air, Tell Me More, and the D.C.-based Kojo Nnamdi Show. (Yes, I’m addicted to NPR.) The Internet was useful for researching gang slang.

Urban ethnographer Susan Phillips’s book Wallbangin’ was a great resource. Not only did I learn a lot about gang culture and graffiti, but also a sense of what it’s like to insert yourself in dangerous places where you’re an obvious outsider, the struggle of working with people you’re afraid of, and the personal doubts about the ethical implications of using people’s lives to document societal and cultural phenomena. These are issues Trevy struggles with throughout the book. What is her responsibility to act in the face of the suffering she witnesses?

 The photo is from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.

The photo is from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain. This is the make & model of Trevy’s car, which plays an important role!

What writing or publishing projects are in your future?

I’m working on the second book of the Broken Places trilogy. I’m also planning to revise my 2007 Golden Heart® (finalist) manuscript about a flower farmer in western Virginia who becomes embroiled in a political scandal that endangers her livelihood and life.

Krista Hall

Krista Hall

Now to the GOOD STUFF! Favorite movie?

Miss Potter. Until I saw the movie, I had no idea Beatrix Potter was such a trailblazer—a writer, illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist, and woman with IDEAS.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. Despite the whimsy of her drawings, think of all the subversive rule-breakers featured in her stories: The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Fierce Bad Rabbit, etc. And the English Lake District where much of the movie was filmed is a visual feast.

Food you can’t say ‘no’ to?

The Chocolate Cupcake of Doom at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.

OMG! I’ll be on the next flight over! A dream trip for you would be…?

Three weeks in Australia and New Zealand with a weeklong layover in Kauai, Hawaii.

Doing book signings! What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Mostly, the enjoyment of a good read and I hope the message is an optimistic one: There can be sweetness after the storm. Do you know the R.E.M. song, Sweetness Follows? If Broken Places had a playlist that song would be on it.

 All the K&T members begged me to request this: Do you happen to have a picture of your darling new puppy, Rosie? 🙂Rosie 7

And now, readers, without further ado! An excerpt of BROKEN PLACES:

“Spare me the lecture, Doc.”

Trevy fastened the cover on the zoom lens of her camera and stuffed it back into her bag with short, jerky motions that betrayed her rising temper. “Don’t you see, if you’d only take the time to understand how these children fall victim to gangs–“

“I know more about it than you ever could,” Cruz said, revealing more than he’d intended. But the good doctor was too wrapped up in her thoughts to notice. “To you, everyone’s a victim. Christ, I’m sick of that mentality.”

“They are victims,” Trevy said, her hands forming tight little fists at her sides. She looked furious enough to hit him, but her voice was remarkably calm. “These children are living on the margin, between two cultures, if you will. Do you know what kind of extreme talent and resolve it takes for even one of them to climb the economic ladder out of poverty?”

“These children are killing each other.” Cruz turned his back on her. He didn’t like the look of the group of teenage boys across the street. They all seemed to have shopped at the same store with the same shopping list. Red sports jerseys, baggy jeans tucked into high-top sneakers, red bandanas in back pockets. LDRs or LDR wannabes, thugs in the making. He cut a warning glance at them and then stepped nearer to Trevy, blocking her from view.

Trevy paused a moment to glare at him before pulling out the notebook and tape measure she always carried in her satchel. She began measuring the images on the wall and jotting down notes. “Do you have a heart?” she asked, as if picking up the thread of a dropped conversation.

“Excuse me, Dr. Barlow, if I don’t feel like joining your pity party for a bunch of street thugs who are intent on turning this part of the city into a war zone,” he said, leaning close enough to smell her shampoo. The scent–light and clean, with a floral note–only made him angrier. “Two girls are dead. Save your pity for them.”

Comment for a chance to win one of TWO copies of BROKEN PLACES! Question of the day:

Have you ever started a project that took years to finish? What kept you going?

Check back on Thursday to see if you’re a lucky winner! (Signed paperback available only in the Continental US. Nook or Kindle e-book available for all.)

Where can readers find out more about you, Krista?

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

My website

Facebook

 

HAPPY DEBUT DAY, Krista, we are so proud of you! Here’s to soaring sales and a best-selling future!toast

Krista Hall’s Cover Reveal! Broken Places

I’m so excited to share the cover of my debut romantic suspense novel BROKEN PLACES, winner of the 2013 Golden Heart® Award!

BrokenPlaces-FrontCover-Final-310dpi

She’s on a mission to change lives

When one of her students becomes the latest victim of a D.C. gang-slaying, sociology professor Trevy Barlow is determined to protect the other girls in her literacy class for at-risk teens—even if it means compromising her own safety.

He’s on a short clock to find a killer

FBI gang task force agent Cruz Larsen isn’t about to let Trevy endanger herself or sidetrack his investigation with her do-gooder meddling. But when a key witness refuses to talk to anyone except her, Cruz has to find a way to earn her trust so that she’ll play by his rules.  

Now a sadistic predator is after them

For Cruz, keeping Trevy safe has become more than a duty—his heart is involved too. But all of his leads have flatlined. And he’s beginning to suspect that a hidden third party has rekindled the gang rivalry for reasons far beyond a D.C. turf war. Caught in the crossfire, Trevy will have to risk it all to give them a fighting chance to survive.

key-300dpi

BROKEN PLACES will be available next week! I hope you’ll come back to K&T on Tuesday for the release day celebration!

Tomorrow Shelley Coriell visits K&T to tell us about the first book in The Apostles, her debut romantic suspense series.

In the meantime, tell us about your favorite romantic suspense covers. What covers are too compelling to resist?

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