Quickie with some of the RITA Winners
August 5, 2000

After discovering who had won RITA's for 2000, we contacted most of the award-winners. In many cases, those authors contacted had also received high grades from us (in many cases they had received Desert Isle Keeper Status) either for the winning book or for an earlier or subsequent release. We gave our congratulations and asked for their comments, and here's what a few of them had to say (if more comments are sent in, they'll be posted as well).

Jeanette Baker, who won the RITA for Best Paranormal Romance for Nell:
"Thank you for the congrats and thank you for the additional keeper status. I appreciate the support. It was quite a shock to me. I didn't even prepare a speech. Everyone can thank Polly Holyoke, my sainted roommate for coaching me minutes before the paranormal nominees were announced. She said she didn't want the spotlight to reflect that she was sitting next to a blithering idiot, so, please would I thank my editor, agent, etc."

Suzanne Brockmann, who won two RITA's, one for Best Long Series Romance (Undercover Princess) and one for Best the RITA for Best Single Title Contemporary (Body Guard):
"Winning two RITA's! Wow! Can you believe it? I so completely didn't expect that! Did you see that list of finalists, particularly in the Best Contemporary Single Title category?! Yow! I was definitely in 'It's an honor to be a finalist' mode. In fact, I was sitting there with my red sweater on over my black evening dress <g>, feeling pretty warm and happy about the fact that I'd just won the RITA for Best Long Contemporary Series Romance, prepared to sit and clap while Susan or Jennifer or Kristin took the stage.

"When my name was announced, I was shocked. I just sat there. And when I got up on stage, I didn't do much better. Total incoherence! I was literally jumping up and down! So much for dignity! <g>

You know, it's funny about Undercover Princess. It was up against another of my books, The Admiral's Bride, which is, IMO, a better book. But my Tall, Dark, & Dangerous mini-series have yet to win a RITA - I've thought a lot about it, and have my theories on why.

For one thing, my SEAL books are hero-driven. UP was heroine driven! It was one of the only books I've ever written that was heroine driven! And, as a matter of fact, when I finished writing the book, I told my husband that this was the book that was going to win me the RITA. I was only half kidding - the irony of that reallly appeals to me! But despite my saying that, when it came down to the bottom line, I was sure in my heart that if I won at all, it was going to be with The Admiral's Bride, which is among my all time personal favorites of my series romances. Ah, Jake!

"Another reason I think my SEAL books haven't won a RITA is because they tend to be irreverent. There's a great deal of humor in them, so if they make a reader cry, there's a good chance she's laughing along with her tears. And that's a different type of emotional response. But, really who knows? I could analyze it to death, and still only be guessing!

"And this is not to say that I'm not thrilled to death that Undercover Princess won!!! Don't get me wrong! I loved that book completely. It was so much fun to write. Gee, I didn't realize you guys didn't review it - why the heck not?"

"As for Body Guard. . . .

"What can I say, but wow! I think of the Contemporary Single Title RITA as just automatically getting engraved with Susan E. Phillips' name each year! And interestingly enough, when I sat down to write it, I consciously made a point to think about what it was that SEP did with her heroines to make them so special.

"I was thinking in particular about books like Fancy Pants and Honey Moon and Kiss an Angel, where the heroine reaches a place where she's got to start over and strip herself down to the core and rebuild her life in order to get off her current path of self-destruction. And as she rebuilds her life, she makes discoveries about herself. She gets to a point where she allows herself to be proud of herself, where she learns that she's got what it takes to stand on her own two feet, or to do whatever it is she needs to do to survive.

"But she starts off less than perfect. Spoiled, self centered, whatever. And throughout the book, she learns and changes and grows. SEP always does that transformation marvelously.

"This is what I tried to do with Alessandra in Body Guard, who was not the most likable character in the world when the book opened. But the book is her journey to a place where she learns to value herself as a human being, not just as a beautiful face and a great body. She becomes enlightened, but that means she's got to start out in the dark - which I think was disconcerting for some readers.

"I think it's really cool that I've received Desert Isle Keeper Status on a full half of my reviewed books! I'm honored!

"I write each book intending for it to be my personal best. It's really wonderful when I win awards or get great reviews - it completely validates all my hard work and effort! You know, my battle cry from the beginning of my career has been "Quality and quantity." And quality always comes first! (Sheesh, I sound like I'm selling tires or something!)

Isolde Martyn, who won the RITA for Best First Book for The Maiden and the Unicorn:
"Lovely to hear from you and thank you most sincerely for the congrats. You can imagine how excited I am!

"I was thrilled to bits to see that The Maiden and the Unicorn had received Desert Island status. The Romance Bookshop Rendezvous in Sydney pays a great deal of attention to your website and told me about the review and interest in the book. I am most grateful.

"The review and enthusiasm of your site was so heartening and came at a time when I just did not know what direction to turn in. Bantam US did not take my second novel, and that was a real blow, as you can imagine. Hopefully the award will help me find a future and a home for The Knight and the Rose as well as Book Three, the sequels to Maiden -- now with my agent.

"Once again, thank you very much to you and your readers."

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