TCO is super excited to have J.E. Birk here today. We asked her very last minute to throw us a bone (see what I did there? 🙂 ) and do a last minute Friday Five-ish Questions, because I found the book so timely. She was so generous and did it right away. So, thank you. Read up on Dating Ryan Alback, then run out and grab it!
Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend—but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.
Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.
When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.
Greetings! I’m J.E. Birk, and right now I’m traversing the internets to discuss my new romantic comedy, DATING RYAN ALBACK. Follow along to learn more about an insecure movie star, a klutzy teacher, and the neurotic dog who loves them. Leave comments for a chance to win a $10 Riptide giftcard and copy of any book from my backlist!
Five-ish Good Questions for Dating Ryan Alback author J.E. Birk. A sometimes feature on Two Chicks Obsessed.
Thank you to the author who agreed to do this interview very last minute. But I felt like these questions needed to be asked! 🙂
- The first question, and what could be the telling question as to your psychic abilities…how long ago was Dating Ryan Alback written? It was published on February 20, but I would imagine it’s been written for some time.
LOL! Great question. One of the main subplots of this book has Jason, the MC, starting a nonprofit to support families who’ve been split apart by deportation. Sadly, in the 2017 political climate, this subplot feels incredibly relevant. But you’re right—I first started drafting this book years ago, back in 2014. At the time we weren’t having the same national conversation about deportation that we are right now. But I was living and working in a community with a huge population of immigrants, and it was an enormous part of our local conversation.
- To say that there is a subplot in this story that is timely for current political events would be understating it. There is a portion of that subplot that I literally saw on the news a day after I read it in the book. How much of current events, or even your guess of what might happen in the political climate play into your book?
Ironically, there were points when I was revising this book and selling it when I wondered if I’d have to change Jason’s subplot—because the conversation around immigration was becoming more humane, and more people were starting to see what mass deportation does to families. But then the election cycle leading to the 2016 presidential race began, and that subplot began to feel highly, highly relevant again. Now I’m very glad I never changed it, because I think we need more books that look at how families—especially children—are affected by deportation.
- Without giving too much away, what was your inspiration for writing this subplot? Was it something you’ve seen before, or something that you saw coming?
Like Jason, I’m a teacher. And like Jason, I’ve had the horrible experience of watching my students’ families destroyed because of deportation. It’s so easy for people to make blanket statements like “Well, if someone came here illegally, they’ve gotta go.” Logically that’s an understandable statement. Law is law, right? But I suspect most people who say that have never hugged a twelve-year-old whose parents have just been taken away from them to another country. A country that they may have never even seen before. It’s all a very complicated issue, and I wish more nonprofits like Jason’s existed.
- How much research did you do for this book? Was it on anything in particular?
The interesting thing about this book is that it’s a romantic comedy. I wrote it as a romcom and I suspect the majority of readers who’ve enjoyed it are people who love romcoms. I’m been talking a lot about how it’s a book I wrote when I needed more comedy in my life…and it is largely very light and fluffy. Except for this one subplot.
So while I was writing this book I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about my favorite romantic comedies. Considering how the best ones stay true to their comedic roots while still allowing for more serious topics to play within the plot. I hope Dating Ryan Alback is, at the end of the day, a book which gives people a sense of joy and escapism without shying away from real-world issues and topics.
- Always, number 5 is the fun one. You receive a genie in a bottle, and are given 1 wish. You can’t wish for more wishes, or world peace, or crap like that. J What would you wish for?
Awww, I wanted a million wishes! Right now I’d probably wish that everyone in the world would show more kindness and empathy. There’s a lot of fear and anger spreading right now. I suspect we’d be in a much better place if we all just spent more time putting ourselves in the shoes of others.
There is so much I want to say about this book. There were so many elements to it, that made it a surprise for me.
I had not read anything by J.E. Birk before Dating Ryan Alback, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked like a sweet, romantic book (and c’mon, look at that cover, doesn’t that say “sweet and cute” all over it?), with fluffy bunnies, kittens and puppies falling all over the place. And it was (minus the bunnies and kittens, and with the dog being somewhat neurotic). This book made me laugh out loud at points. Case in point, this dialogue between Jason and Natalia (Jason’s best friend):
“Dramatic? Did you call me dramatic? My last date took me to a gyro place. Gryos, Jason!”
“I like gyros,” Jason answered mildly.
“Yes, yes, we all like gyros…”
I had several laugh out loud moments highlighted. Ones that I highlighted that later became a bigger part of the storyline. In the end, though, this was a fun, romantic comedy.
Until I realized that there was a sub-plot that made it so relevant to current day politics that I was shocked at the idea that this must have been written well before the U.S. presidency had even been decided. The author nailed the issue so hard, I was in awe at how accurate a portrayal of something that I hadn’t even realized was truly happening (and literally has increased exponentially in the last month). The author’s portrayal of this situation made it hit home even more. And as you read her interview, you’ll see this was deeply personal for her.
All in all this book was such a hit with me, and as I processed it over the next couple days, it felt even more like heaps of fun, with a side of reality thrown in, which I am hoping is how all the readers feel about it.
4 pieces of eye candy
J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5K she won’t end up running, or watching people run into each other on football fields and in hockey rinks. You can follow her ramblings on Twitter by looking for @jebirkwrites. She’s also been known to ramble on Facebook as J Elisabeth Birk.
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To celebrate the release of Dating Ryan Alback, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide Publishing credit and their choice of ebook from J.E.’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 25, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!