RITA AWARD Winner Emily McKay


Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...


Coming in November 2013

By the time I reached the driver’s-side door, I was done keeping the anger in check. I wanted to rip the Hummer apart. I wanted to peel the damn thing like an orange and leave it in pieces. I might have actually done it, too, but we’d need it to drive away in.

Lily slid over as I climbed into the driver’s seat. “What’s going on? What happened?”

I immediately reached for the ignition, but realized she still held the keys. “Give me the keys. We’re getting out of here.”She looked down like she was surprised to see them in her hand. She hesitated, and I could feel her looking from Merc—who had followed me up to the gate and was now opening it—to my hand gripping the steering wheel so tightly I was surprised it didn’t crack.

She was too damn smart not to figure out something was very wrong. “Can you first tell me what’s going on?”

I didn’t want to tell her, but figured she had the right to know how badly I’d screwed this up. “Right after I left for Texas to find you, a group went out on a food raid and got attacked by a Tick. There were four survivors. No one realized that one of them had been exposed to the virus. He disappeared into the catacombs deep inside the mountain. Thank God someone figured out what had happened before he killed anyone else. ...”

“Damn.” She muttered the word on a soft exhale.

“That’s why Base Camp is all shut down. They’re hiding in there. They’re too terrified to come out and risk infection again. Merc said he’ll let us in, but only if we spend time in quarantine.”
I looked over at Lily to see her staring straight out the front windshield. Her chin had that stubborn jut to it and I could tell her mind was racing through the events of the story she’d just heard. She twisted in her seat to look at me, but she kept the keys clutched in her hand. “Okay. So what’s the problem? Why are we leaving?”

“Lily, when I got you and Mel out of that Farm, I promised to keep you safe. But I didn’t. Our trip here was one screw-up after another. But I thought that at least once we got here, everything would work out. But now—” My throat closed over the word as I imagined Lily trapped there in that mountain with a killer. Panic hit me again and all I could do was curse.

I looked over at Lily, expecting to see horror on her face. Or fear. Panic, like mine. But she was frowning, head tipped a little to the side.

“So you think we should go?”

“Yes. Hell, yes.”

“Just drive off and leave them? I don’t understand. Why would we—”“Because I thought it was safe here and it’s not. If Base Camp isn’t safe, if we can’t even go out looking for food without getting attacked by Ticks, then we’re all screwed. We can’t survive like this. I can’t protect you—”
“Maybe it’s not your job to protect me. No, wait. Hear me out, okay?” She waited until I nodded before she continued. “When you rescued me, you thought I was an abductura, you thought I had this amazing power to lead the human resistance and sway people’s opinions. Whatever. If I had been an abductura, then, yes, keeping me alive would have been more important than anything else. But I’m not that person. Which means you don’t have to work so hard to protect me.”

“Lily, that’s not the only reason I want to keep you safe.” The thought of her hurt, in pain...it drove me crazy.

But she waved aside my comment. “Maybe I can’t lead the rebellion, but I still want to fight. We’ve made it this far. I’m not going to turn around now.”

“Don’t you get it? If you’re not the abductura, then there’s no one to lead the rebellion. We don’t have a leader. We don’t have security. We don’t have shit. There is no human rebellion. Which is why you need to hand over the keys so we can just get out of here.”

“No.” Lily clung tightly to those keys. “As far as you and I know, this is the last outpost of free humans on the planet. Maybe there are still pockets of humanity in Canada or Beijing or Brazil or wherever, but as far as we know, for certain, this is it. Maybe the rebellion doesn’t have an abductura who can magically brain- wash other humans into joining, but the rebellion still has a leader and that leader is you. It always has been. And you can’t just turn your back on these people. Not for me. Not for anyone. They need you.”

When Lily talked like that—like I was some kind of friggin’ hero—I couldn’t even look at her. The weight of her expectations was too damn heavy on my shoulders. All I wanted was to keep her safe. To just bury my face in her hair and hold her close and maybe forget for a few hours how completely screwed up everything was. But instead, I had to go save the world.

Emily McKay loves to read, shop, and geek out about movies. When she’s not writing, she reads on-line gossip and bakes luscious deserts. She pretends that her weekly yoga practice balances out both of those things. She lives in central Texas with her family and her crazy pets. She also co-write young adult rom-coms as Ivy Adams. She recently won the Rita award for best Young Adult novel for The Farm.

ANGI: What’s your favorite “love” word?
EMILY: Hmm, I'm not sure I understand the question. Like, what's my favorite word for "love"? I really like "adore," but I think my favorite is "yearn." It's so angsty and delicious. I guess that's why I write YA in addition to series romance. Love all that angst!

ANGI: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
EMILY: Okay, warning: sappy, emotional stuff ahead.
When my parents met their senior year in high school, my mother was beautiful and vibrant, the belle of every ball (or sock hop as the case may be). She'd won several beauty pageants and was so sought after for dates, she once had dates with three different boys on the same day. My father, on the other hand, was shy, quiet and intensely smart. He spoke with a stutter so pronounced, sometimes he would call her on the phone and be unable to say anything at all. In fact, they'd been married for over a decade before he admitted that to her. Yet, somehow, they fell in love. 
In the nearly fifty years they've been married, they've had many ups and downs, most of them related to my mother's health. She's suffered with arthritis for most of her adult life, as well as Multiple Sclerosis and now kidney failure. She's also bi-polar. All of her amazing charisma and charm have a shadow side, one that I'm sure hasn't always been easy to deal with. But he asked her to marry him knowing she was bi-polar. He has loved her and stayed with her all these years. He loves her completely, the great and the challenging. He takes care of her no matter what. That's a true hero.

ANGI: What do you like about the hero of your book?
EMILY: I love that Carter is completely devoted to Lily. He has dubious external motives and very questionable ways of achieving his goals, but in the end, for Carter, it's all about Lily.

ANGI: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
EMILY: One of the characters in The Farm, Mel, is kind of a musical savant. So Mel definitely has a song. It's Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on the Theme of Paganini." It's such a lush and romantic song, so full of yearning. Then, the hero and heroine have a song of their own. It's The Naked and Famous's "Young Blood," which I think perfectly captures the intensity of first love. They are two very different songs, but they both capture intense yearning. Yeah, yeah. I know. Again with the yearning, right?

ANGI: I heard you're a fan of TMNT? Who's your favorite Mutant Turtle?
EMILY: Oooh, great question! I'm curious how you know that about me. Was it the TMNT reference in The Tycoon's Temporary Baby? But, yes, I *loved* TMNT when I was in college and watched it obsessively. As for my favorite "hero on a half shell", it's Rafael, of course! The smart ass, bad boy? I'm all over that.
ANGI: I could have guessed that one! Love my TMNT. *I* used to watch it with my son, while you were in college. LOL

ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
EMILY: I am so sad to have to say this, but I don't read nearly as often as I wish I did. I have a real problem reading when I'm writing first drafts. I can only have so many books in my head at a time and mine has to come first. So basically, I have to squeeze books in between books. I just read two books over vacation and it was absolute bliss. When I am reading something I love, I read it intensely. Non-stop. In bed; at the table; at the stoplight; while cooking. I'm completely indiscriminate (and probably slightly unsafe), when it comes to that reading time.

ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
EMILY: You know when a baby or a kid is sleeping deeply and they make that sort of snuffling sigh sound? That. That's the best noise in the world.

ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
EMILY: Both? I *love* action adventure (books, movies, anything!), but I need at least a hint of romance in there, otherwise, what's the point?

ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
EMILY: Pride and Prejudice. I love the chemistry between Darcy and Lizzie, and Jane Austen basically set up the structure of all romances (ie. meet cute, internal and external conflict, love through emotional growth). But … I can't pick one. I love all versions of the story: The BBC Colin Firth version, the Keira Knightly version, the BBC mini series Lost in Austen, the on-line serial The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Bridget Jones' Diary. I love them all! (A bit obsessively, truth be told.)

ANGI: So… 'He who shall not be named' was your answer in 2011 about your favorite villain? Has that changed?
EMILY: It's hard to top the dark lord, isn't it? And I think he is still in the running, but I was talking recently with my friend Tracy Wolff about Dolores Umbridge and how terrifying she is. It's her absolute conviction that she's not just in the right, but that she is working for the greater good. She's positively chilling. And those frolicking cats on the plates? <shudder>
"He who shall not be named" is evil in a black and white kind of way. In some ways, Dolores Umbridge is more terrifying because you can imagine an average person sliding down that path.

ANGI: What is your biggest vice?
EMILY: Wine. Or chocolate. Or procrastination.
No … wait. Indecision. Definitely indecision. Well, probably.
Come on, after the favorite movie answer, you had to see this coming, right?

ANGI: Is there a “Blooper” in your story (it may have been changed before printing)?
EMILY: When I was working on The International Kissing Club with Tracy Wolfe and Shellee Roberts (which we published under the name Ivy Adams), I described my character Izzy's younger brother as a "piano protege." I used the term like three times in the book. And we all the way to page proofs (which is the last time the author looks at a book before it goes to print), before I realized what I meant to say was that he was a "piano prodigy." 

ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: What's the favorite thing you've discovered about writing Teen Fiction?
EMILY'S GOTTA ANSWER: I love how involved the fans are! Don't get me wrong, category romance fans are great, but they're quietly great. They buy books in droves, but they rarely send fan mail or write reviews. But YA fans send fan mail and art work and do video reviews. It's so much fun to get to interact with readers that way. The fans are so much fun!   

Contact          Website       The Farm     Facebook    Twitter @Emily_Mc_Kay 
Goodreads    Blog    Previous GLIAS interviews

Nov 2013
Berkley Trade

Check out all the PREVIOUS RELEASES by EMILY on her website.

EMILY is giving away a signed copy of The Farm and a super-cool Farm backpack. (International giveaway.)

Note: COMMENTERS are encouraged to leave a contact email address to speed the prize notification process. Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to International addresses. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.

DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter #GetLostStories or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join Liz tomorrow when RONI LOREN returns with her latest release. And come back Monday when I host RITA award winner, BARBARA FREETHY. ~Angi

EMILY WANTS TO KNOW: Which version of Pride and Prejudice is your favorite? (Or, if you're not an Austen fan, then … um, what's wrong with you? Just kidding! But, seriously, not even Bridget Jones?)


  1. Welcome back to GLIAS, Emily and congratulations on winning your RITA. Do you look at her all the time?

    I have one more question for you... Did she travel home in the overhead? or in your suitcase?

    1. Thanks for having me, Angi and GLIAS!

      And thanks for the congrats!

      I *do* look at her all the time. She's so pretty!
      As for how she traveled home, I totally planned on brining her in my carryon, but my friend Sherry Thomas (who has won two Ritas!) was in the room next to me at nationals, and she said it was better to just put her in my suitcase. They give you this nice box, so she's totally protected. And, frankly, when it comes to things Rita-related, I'm not going to argue with Sherry. :-)

  2. This is where I admit to not being an Austen fan *hangs head in shame* but I did watch the Keira Knightley version. & no not ever Bridget Jones. Neither actress are my favourite. I have to admit to preferring book version heroines over any actress I've seen in movies. I'm not a movie fan unless it's a Disney cartoon.

    1. Linda, it's okay, one of my very best friends, Tracy Wolff, isn't an Austen fan either. I've learned to forgive her. :-)

      I have a theory that people (okay, women) are either Austen fans or Bronte fans. So are you a Bronte fan?

  3. Congratulations Emily on the success of your series. It looks pretty fascinating. My favorite version of Pride and Prejudice is the BBC version. Since it is longer than a movie they really had the time to be true to the story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

    1. Thanks, Maureen!
      I love the BBC version too! I love how long and detailed it is. Those five hours make it feel like I'm really escaping into another world. And of course, Colin Firth.
      There are just so many things to love!

  4. I love all versions but I have to say Lost in Austen is pretty charming. I laughed out loud so many times! :)

    1. Oh, yay! Another Lost in Austen fan!
      I love that movie and so few people have seen it. It's just completely charming and delightful.

  5. Hi Emily,
    Welcome to GLIAS! First of all, of course congratulations on your RITA. That's so incredibly exciting and I don't blame you for staring at her ALL the time. Mine would have a worn patch already from petting it!

    I love your mom and dad's story. You have exactly the same idea of what a hero is that I do. Sometimes I wonder if generations now and to come will ever keep that incredible sense of commitment and patience and adoration our parents had. Things seem so disposable these days.

    As for Austen--love P&P. I loved the Keira Knightly version, but as cute as that Darcy was, I would have loved to mesh Keira with Colin. Now THAT would be cool! On the other hand, do not get me going on "Gone With the Wind." Save it for the category "Romance Novels You Hate" and drum me out of the romance club :-)

    Fun interview--good luck with your amazing-sounding book!

    1. Lizbeth, I wonder the same thing about the younger generation. I heard some radio personalities talking about it and one of the guys couldn't even imagine being with the same woman for more than a few years. Which seems sad to me. It's like people have lost an understanding of love. They think it's only the crazy, fun, heart-pounding stuff at the beginning. They've forgotten about the stuff that comes later--the gentle caring, the respect and personal interest. Those things count too!

    2. Both of you have said very wise words.
      My inlaws have been married 64 years and have a beautiful relationship.

      (And when they don't want to listen to each other, they sit by the ear that doesn't hear well....very funny to watch.)

  6. I never read Austen. She was always mentioned along with the books they forced us to read in highschool.

    1. Chey, you're really missing out. Yes, Austen is a little hard to get into at first, but she's a writer like no other. Swooningly romantic, charming, funny, witting. She's amazing. In addition to creating the best hero ever. :-)

    2. Btw, Chey, I should mention that I have never liked those other "mentioned in high school" books. Bleck.
      But Austen is different. She's delightful. :-)

  7. I am so excited for The Lair! :-) thanks for sharing!

  8. the one with Kiera Knightley

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  9. The only version I have seen is the one with Kiera Knightly so I can't really say which one is my favorite, lol.


    1. Well, Mable, you have your assignment! Go watch some more versions!
      Here, this will get you started:


  10. Congrats on winning a Rita! The Farm sounds really interesting and I'm looking forward to reading it and I'm sure my girls will love it too.

    As for my favourite version of the Pride And Prejudice, I'm ashamed to admit I've only seen Bridget Jones' Diary. I'm even more ashamed that I haven't read any of Jane Austen's books either (don't hate me). I honestly don't know why I've never read them, maybe because I never had to in school (I also never had to read Shakespeare). All I ever hear is great things about her books, so I promise to read them one day soon.

    jordan_lisa at hotmail.com

    1. Hi Lisa! As far as I'm concerned there's no shame in not reading books your English teacher recommend. They led us astray too often-Moby Dick? Bleck!
      But, you should give Jane Austen a shot, because her books are delightful and P&P is such a great romance.

      And I love Bridget Jones' Diary. It's so funny! Just adorable!

  11. I *think* I read Pride & Prejudice when I was in HS (maybe college), but that was 50 years ago, or more. I've seen some of the film adaptations, but do not have a fav. I really don't know if I'm even a fan of Jane Austen.

    Congrats on the Rita. I haven't yet read The Farm, but it is on my TBR list.


    1. Thanks for the congrats!

      I have a theory that you're either a Jane Austen fan or a Bronte fan. So if you're more into dark, tortured heroes, then maybe you're just a Bronte girl. I don't understand you Bronte girls, but I have to respect you because one of my very best friends isn't an Austen fan either. :-)