Red as Blood, the debut YA thriller by Dominique Richardson and Sorboni Banerjee
Author Interview with Dominique Richardson + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
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Red as Blood
Riverdale meets fairytale in this edgy, seductive twist on the age-old stories you think you know.
When Penny Zale vanishes from the psychiatric hospital where she’s being held against her will, only her chopped-off braid and cryptic letters remain. If her friends Raven, Aarya, Dawn, and Elle have any chance of finding Penny, they must enter a world where money and power mean everything, and life is expendable.
The lies that built their town of Everbeach run deep, and someone is willing to do anything to keep them hidden. The girls believe Penny’s letters point to her ex, big sugar heir Logan Steele. When Raven tries to get close to Logan to gather information, she finds herself fighting a dangerous attraction to the magnetic billionaire.
Everything begins to unravel when Aarya discovers Raven has been keeping secrets. Raven’s painful past of anxiety and addiction causes her to spiral, and everyone, including Raven herself, starts to question her version of reality. As threats and attacks ramp up against the friends, they must decipher what happened to Penny before they’re the next to disappear.
Scandalous secrets, deadly twists, and forbidden love make this series perfect for fans of Inheritance Games, Thousandth Floor, and Pretty Little Liars.
To purchase Red as Blood, click on either of the following links: Amazon & Signed copy from Oxford Exchange
Red as Blood — Author Interview with Dominique Richardson
Red as Blood is a young adult, romantic suspense novel. What does that genre mean to you? What are some of the conventions that readers can expect?
I absolutely love reading and writing anything that has characters falling in love when they’re fighting against evil and escaping dangerous situations. So you probably won’t ever catch me writing a rom com, but stranger things have happened.
Some of the tropes I love—and that you will find in Red as Blood—are enemies to lovers, forbidden love, found family.
For this series, which I wrote with my coauthor Sorboni Banerjee, we combined our brands to create the story idea. Coming from a background in news, she writes stories ripped from the headlines, and my first love will always be fantasy. Red as Blood was pitched as Riverdale meets fairy tale, and we took her thriller background and combined with my fantasy side by merging the fairy tales into our world, and The Everbeach series was born.
What should readers know about Everbeach?
If you were to take Palm Beach from the east coast of Florida and combine with Siesta Key on the west coast, you would get the town of Everbeach, where this series takes place.
The first book opens after Penny Zale vanishes from the psychiatric hospital where she was being held against her will, with only her chopped-off braid and cryptic letters left behind. If her friends Raven, Aarya, Dawn, and Elle have any chance of finding Penny, they must enter a world where money and power mean everything, and life is expendable.
The girls believe Penny’s letters point to her ex, big sugar heir Logan Steele. When Raven tries to get close to Logan to gather information, she finds herself fighting a dangerous attraction to the magnetic billionaire. As threats and attacks ramp up against the friends, they have to decipher what Penny’s messages mean before they’re the next to disappear. The first book in the series, Red as Blood, comes out February 28, 2023.
One of the exciting things about this series is how all four books will be published this year. Our publisher, Wise Wolf Books, practices a rapid release model so we don’t have to keep fans waiting for the next books.
Book 2, A Stolen Voice, comes out March 28, 2023.
Book 3, A Deadly Sleep, comes out May 2, 2023.
Book 4, The Clock Strikes, comes out June 6, 2023.
The other fun thing is each book follows a fairy tale, even though these are contemporary stories set entirely in the real world, just like they took Archie comic characters and put them in the real world for the tv series Riverdale, we took fairy tale characters and put them in the real world. Book 1 follows Snow White, book 2, The Little Mermaid, book 3, Sleeping Beauty, and book 4, Cinderella, with the overarching plot for the entire series being Rapunzel.
Sorboni and I both come from multicultural backgrounds, so we also infuse this into the story, making these “princesses” fierce and diverse.
As you mentioned, The Everbeach series is co-written with Sorboni Banerjee. What was your process like working together?
First off, we have an absolute blast writing together. It all started because of a brainstorming adventure on an airplane during a flight coming back from a writing conference. From there, the story grew wings and took off.
Every story we write, we strategically plan and outline together. We spend time working out the details, planning the mystery, and of course the love stories, and then once we have a detailed working outline, then we take our main characters and go write our chapters independently.
All of the books in this series have two point of view characters. I write one, and Sorboni writes the other one.
We use a shared document that we house in the cloud, and we both edit each other’s chapters as we go along. It’s the editing process that we do for one another that I think really helps elevate our writing. There’s no such thing as hiding your first draft. Your words get exposed to critique quickly, and that’s a really good thing because I believe no great writing exists without great editing. So we have that extra layer of editing before our first draft ever makes it to our editor at our publisher.
Describe your publishing journey for Red as Blood?
We first came up with the idea in the summer of 2018. The book was finished and submitted to our agent at the end of 2020. I signed with our agent, Tamar Rydzinski, in March 2020, and the book wasn’t ready for submission to publishers until October 2021. And we signed our four-book deal in August of 2022. So, if you’re doing the math, from idea to signed book deal, was almost four years.
FOUR YEARS. I think that’s something that’s really important for people to understand, that publishing takes a long time to break in, and you have to work really hard in obscurity, perfecting your craft and building your community to break into this industry.
We went on two rounds of submission before we got our book deal. After our first round of submissions, we realized we were getting some consistent feedback, so we edited our book again, and took it back out to market. The draft of our novel that finally sold was the fifth draft—we went through four rounds of draft editing with our agent before we took the book on submission to publishers, and then after submission, we did one round of editing before submitting again and selling the series.
Tell us about YA by the Bay:
We started YA by the Bay because of our shared belief in the power of story to impact and transform lives. We both believe whole-heartedly in the restorative, inspirational power of books. For me, reading was literally a lifeline when the magic of compelling stories helped me overcome my battle with anxiety and depression. And Sorboni, with over two decades of reporting stories that impact the community, she’s witness first-hand the power of storytelling as a connecting force.
At a book festival for teens, we noticed a missing piece. Sure, it was exciting to have authors meet their fans, but what if we could teach kids how to use the message from these talented writers as motivation for what is possible? Could we take a young adult book festival to the next level by using it to teach leadership?
Seated separately on the plane on the way back from this festival, we texted each other the same exact thing before our phones went off for the flight: “We should host a festival in Tampa!” (side note: yes, apparently our best ideas do seem to happen on planes…next time I’m stuck on an idea, maybe I should buy a plane ticket).
YA by the Bay was born from a shared desire to ensure authors’ words reach the kids who need them. To make sure students realize knowing how to craft a story, helps you craft the story of your life. To make sure everyone feels welcome, included, and heard. To make sure everyone knows—your voice matters.
We are partnered with our local public schools, local library, and local independent bookseller Oxford Exchange. The inaugural festival will be hosted this year in Tampa Bay on October 13-14, 2023.
What are you working on now?
Books 3 and 4 in the Everbeach series! Book 2 is completely done and already up for pre-sale. We’re editing Book 3 and writing Book 4 as we speak…oh, and launching Book 1 today. So the Everbeach series is keeping me quite busy to say the least.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
This business is not for the faint of heart. I am convinced the single most important factor for an author’s success isn’t sure talent or natural story telling ability. I believe the writers who make it are the ones who persevere. It takes time and a lot of hard work to get to the place of publishing a novel. And this is the case whether you go traditional or the self-published route.
I don’t believe in the myth of the overnight success. You never see the years of hard work put in late nights, early mornings, and all the hours someone had to steal to be able to do their creative work until it was good enough to see the light of day. And so, if you want to succeed, you have to go into this career with the mindset that you are not going to give up. You will seek feedback, and improve, and always work to get better, and better, and better until you finally break in. In my case, from the day I knew without question I wanted to be an author to the day I signed my first book deal, it was fourteen years. I know I said four above, that was only for the book idea that finally sold. There were eleven years before that where I was educating myself on the craft, writing novels that may never come out from the dusty notebooks they live in, and reading voraciously.
All writers must be readers. It’s not an option. If you’re not reading, then you really need to ask yourself how serious you are about writing. Some of the greatest teachers you’ll ever find on the craft of writing are your favorite books. Study those books. Understand what it is your beloved authors do that whisk you away into a magical world where the pages disappear and it’s just you living in the story.
And make sure you network. Find online communities of writers. There are so many out there on every social media platform. Go to writer’s conferences. Meet other writers. Find a critique group in your area. Join a book club. Find your tribe of people who will be there to cheer you on and support you every step of the way. It’s a long journey, you’re going to want friends by your side as you make the trek to your publishing dreams.
Author Pet Corner!
I have a writing buddy!
Her name is Roxie, and she is a nine-year-old rescue, dachshund chihuahua mix.
She is always down for my late nights of writing when I’m on deadline.
Here is a picture of her hanging with me in my office.
Can I just say, I kind of want her life?
In this picture, she’s cheering me on after a long night of writing and finishing the second book in this series (either that, or she was yawning).
Dominique Richardson — Author of Red as Blood
Dominique Richardson is the coauthor of The Everbeach Series—a young adult, romantic suspense series full of forbidden romance, deadly twists, and scandalous secrets that will keep you turning pages into the night.
The first book in the series, Red as Blood, comes out February 28, 2023. Passionate about all things books and giving back to the community, she is also the Executive Director and cofounder of YA by the Bay, a nonprofit young adult reading and leadership festival, dedicated to inspiring teens to “be the author of your own life.”
Raised between Jamaica and the United States, her biracial heritage finds a home in her books.
She spends her free time passing on her love of unicorns to her twin boys, running in the Florida heat, and drinking all the coffee. She now lives in Tampa, Florida with her family.
To learn more about Dominique, click on any of the following links: Website: authordominiquerichardson.com, Instagram: www.instagram.com/domwritesbooks, Twitter: www.twitter.com/domwritesbooks & TikTok: www.tiktok.com/@domwritesbooks
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
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Header image by The Digital Artist on Pixabay