Friday, June 8, 2018

Kara Isaac: Rita Finalist

Rita finalist Kara Isaac describes getting the call!
After finding out you were a finalist, who did you call first and tell? 
I live in New Zealand and the time difference means that the RITA finalist calls are done while we are sleeping. The upside to this is there’s no spending the day waiting in tension because the complete list of finalists is up by 8am our time!

I checked the list as soon as I woke up and saw four finalists listed, including a good friend, Nicole Deese. Because there have only been four finalists in the religious and spiritual elements recently I assumed they had all been announced so I messaged Nicole with my  congratulations and then went on with my day. I was in the shower washing my hair when my husband banged on the door and told me that “some guy from America” was on the phone from some romance place? He will be laughing for years about the sight of me racing through the house sopping wet in a towel to get to the phone!! 

What other cool things have happened now that you’re a RITA finalist? Tell us a little about this book? How many books have you written? 

This was my first attempt

I first started writing the manuscript that became Then There Was You in 2008. It was my first attempt at a contemporary romance and, much to my surprise, was a finalist in the first couple of contests I entered it in. However, I also got consistent feedback from judges that no publisher would be interested in a book set in Australia and if I was serious about getting it published then I needed to relocate it to the US. I ultimately decided that the Australian setting was a critical component to the story that I wasn’t willing to compromise on and put it aside while I worked on other ideas. I finally finished it in 2014, it had some interest with publishers but ultimately wasn’t picked up so I put it aside again and pursued other ideas. It was my next manuscript that ended up being contracted to be my debut novel, Close To You. 

By late 2016, I had two books traditionally published but then my publisher went through a major restructure and a decision about whether I was going to be offered another contract was put on hold. Then There Was You has always had a special place in my heart for a number of reasons and so I decided to make the leap and publish it independently. Probably the most amazing thing about the RITA final has been the affirmation that Then There Was You is the same calibre as traditionally published novels (which is mostly thanks to my two phenomenal editors who pushed me to make it even stronger than I thought I could!). 

What other kudos have you earned? 
My debut novel, Close To You, was an Inspy Award winner and my sophomore novel, Can’t Help Falling an RT Reviews Top Pick. In the last couple of weeks Then There Was You has also been announced as an Inspy Award finalist and a HOLT Medallion finalist. I’m so honoured by how readers have embraced my characters but it can also be very daunting wondering how the next book is going to live up to how well loved the others have been!

One piece of advice you have for other authors... 
Publishing has been in a huge state of flux the last ten years but if your dream is a traditional publishing contract then don’t let people discourage you from pursuing it. Publishers are still looking for new voices and fresh talent. Two friends of mine have recently signed their first traditional publishing contracts after years of hard work and I recently signed a new book contract with my publisher after 18 months of not knowing if I was going to be offered another contract. So don’t listen to the naysayers who would have you believe that traditional publishing is dying!

Short bio: Kara Isaac is the award-winning author of three books. She lives in New Zealand (yes, it’s really as beautiful as it looks in the movies!) where she spends her time chasing three small people, writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in the South Pacific. Find out more at

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you so much for having me to visit!


  1. Kara, I love your story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  2. Congratulations, Kara, and thank you for the inspiration!

  3. After setting up this interview, I bought the book. I can see why it was a Rita finalist. It was unique and upbeat and funny. I really enjoyed it.

  4. Congratulations! It’s so great that you have another RITA final.

  5. So excited for you, Kara! Congrats on your second RITA final!!!


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