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Sarah Kuhn | Exclusive Excerpt: HOLIDAY HEROINE


Holiday Heroine
Sarah Kuhn

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Heroine Complex # 6

July 2022
On Sale: July 5, 2022
Featuring: Bea Tanaka
400 pages
ISBN: 0756416531
EAN: 9780756416539
Kindle: B09HTCNCGD
Trade Paperback / e-Book
Add to Wish List

Also by Sarah Kuhn:
Holiday Heroine, July 2022
Hollywood Heroine, July 2021
Haunted Heroine, July 2021
Haunted Heroine, July 2020

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Chapter One

If there’s one thing I’ve never been able to do, it’s blend in.

Take my stint playing Christmas Tree #7 in my fourth-grade holiday pageant. Prior to this tragic bit of casting, I was positively elated at the very idea of a holiday pageant. I am one of those people who unabashedly loves the many festive markers of winter: gingerbread and cozy sweaters, mulled cider and mistletoe, jaunty snowpeople and jingle bells. Every time a movie starring multiple Christmassy Vanessa Hudgenses pops up in my Netflix queue, my heart sings just a little bit louder.

My big sister Evie thinks this is because there’s so much spectacle associated with the holiday season, so much pomp and circumstance, so many of those famed silver bells jangling their way into people’s ears in the most ostentatious way imaginable. It is true that I never miss a chance to be as extra as ­possible . . . and I suppose the holiday pageant ended up being a prime example of that.

I was pissed because Clara Montrose was cast as the lead—the Sugar Plum Fairy who dances in front of the shuffling line of boring Christmas trees, blessing them with her sparkly magic wand. Our teacher, Mrs. Sasser, claimed it was because she was the best dancer in class, a notion I protested mightily. Clara had taken all of three beginning ballet lessons when she was six, but to hear her tell it, you’d think she was a principal with the Joffrey or some shit.

I later overheard Mrs. Sasser admit to another teacher that she’d actually cast Clara because she “looked the part,” being blonde and blue-eyed and teeny-tiny. Whereas I, with my snarl of unruly dark hair, my gangly limbs that were already too long for my body, and (let’s be real) my Asian face . . . apparently did not.

So I resigned myself to being a tree, but could never quite manage the one bit of direction I was given, which was—you guessed it!—blend in.

First, I got a little too into the costuming, sprucing up my blah cardboard tree outfit with not just one but three different shades of green paint, superglued tinsel accents, and a metric fuckton of glitter. Then, at the actual performance, my little tree self danced so aggressively in the background that I totally upstaged Clara, who just kind of swayed around and unenthusiastically waved that magic wand while I twirled, leaped, and emoted like my heart depended on it.

My performance was all the other parents could talk about for weeks.

That Bea ­Tanaka . . . she’s going to be trouble.

I can’t say they were wrong.

But now that I was on the cusp of ­full-fledged adultdom, I was trying really hard to be more of a proper grown-up, and it had actually been many, many days since I’d gotten into any kind of trouble—a new record for me! Six months ago, I’d made the very mature and responsible decision to up and move from my San Francisco home to the beautiful Hawai'ian island of Maui, catapulting myself across an entire ocean to take an exciting new job with the area’s fledgling Demonology Research Group. This meant leaving Team Tanaka/Jupiter, the superheroing outfit my aforementioned sister Evie ran with her best friend and partner in all things world--saving, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang).

I know ditching my entire family and a plum superheroing gig might not sound mature and responsible on the face of it, but I'd hoped to find purpose, independence, and myself. After my supernatural adventures had led me to a ­way-too-intense flirtation with villaindom, I'd realized I needed to figure out who I was apart from my overbearing, overprotective ­family—where I was always Evie’s tempestuous little sister, the forever baby of the team. And then this potentially thrilling new job had come along, promising actual-demon-hunting and the kind of on-the-round research I ­adore—not to mention the chance to work with Dr. Kai Alana, founder of the DRG and owner of one of the biggest, coolest brains in the demonology field (and honestly, in the world).

At last, I’d be on my own for the first time in my entire life, doing stimulating work that spoke to my very soul, and figuring out what kind of superheroine I wanted to be.

"You’ve got this, Bebe," my best friend Leah Kim had said right before the move. "Like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, Bea Tanaka 2.0 is going to be epic: confident in her abilities of emotional projection, kicking ass in her scintillating new job, and definitely not heading down the nefarious evil villain path at all!"

I appreciated her vote of confidence. And thus far, my efforts hadn’t been going too badly. Unlike my little ­Christmas-tree self, I was doing my best to not make a scene everywhere I ­went—to finally blend in.

Of course, there were still moments wherein this was an epic challenge.

Take today, which started off as a gloriously peaceful morning, then quickly devolved into the kind of chaos I’m generally known for.

I popped out of bed at my customary 9 a.m., admired the ridiculously blue Maui sky, and wandered down the street from my teeny bungalow to K Okamoto Bakery, a legendary establishment that concocted fresh malasadas and other delectable pastries every morning and stayed open until they sold out (usually a matter of hours). The bakery was the kind of no-frills, no-nonsense joint that always felt just a little bit magical to me—the lighting was dim, the decorations were minimal, and the faded letterboard menu behind the counter hadn’t changed in decades. No need for extra bells and whistles, because the sweets were the absolute stars, and the bakery’s dedication to craft and sheer passion for pastry provided all the flair required.

I was waiting patiently in line with my friend Keala, like I did every morning. Said line was already out the door, but no one was in any hurry—the comforting buzz of idle chatter filled the space as customers meandered forward, everyone stoked to attain their morning sugar rush. The humidity in the air was already strong enough to make my untamable snarl of hair cling to the back of my neck, but I barely noticed. I was fully entranced by the parade of sugary treats jostling for attention in the massive glass case that took up most of the front of the store. Yes, I saw it every morning, but I never failed to be warmed by its welcoming glow.

"Ahhh, the cream puff," I breathed reverently, studying the pile of fluffy golden-brown delicacies that had been placed front and center this morning. "Why have I never considered the potential majesty of the cream puff? Maybe I’ll try that."

"You had one guava malasada the day you arrived and never looked back—you were all pau!" Keala countered, her eyebrows disappearing under her fall of choppy reddish-brown bangs. She gestured to the glass case, which led to a battered old-school cash register perched on a small square of counterspace jammed with gum and dusty trinkets for sale. "So many of these treats are still waiting for Bea Tanaka to pronounce them so 'ono, but that malasada will always be your one true queen."

"Facts," I said, gazing mournfully at the untasted cream puff. "Sorry, cream puff, but the contrast between donut y sweetness and that signature tang of guava jelly is an unreal level of perfection, and I must pay tribute whenever I can."

"Your expression is sooo dreamy right now," Keala teased, her impish dark eyes sparkling with amusement. "I love that you’ve maintained a passion for the guava malasada, even after ingesting approximately five million of them."

"You know how people say absence makes the heart grow fonder?" I said, as we shuffled forward in line. "For me, it's the opposite: excess makes the heart grow fonder. I can't wait to eat at least five million more."

From HOLIDAY HEROINE published by arrangement with DAW. Copyright © 2022 by Sarah Kuhn

HOLIDAY HEROINE by Sarah Kuhn

Holiday Heroine

Heroine Complex # 6

Nobody loves Christmas like Bea Tanaka—so when her family visits her for a special holiday celebration, she’s beside herself with joy.

After years of chaos, questionable decisions, and flirtations with the supervillain path, Bea is finally thriving. She’s got a sweet, new gig hunting demons in Maui, she’s working hard to hone her powers, and her big sister Evie is proud of her at last. In fact, everyone is soproud of her that she can’t tell them the truth: she’s feeling lost and adrift. She and her boyfriend Sam Fujikawa are struggling to make their long-distance love work, and her powers are displaying some intriguing new elements—elements that could lead her down an evil, mind-controlling path once more.

When her family’s holiday visit is disrupted by otherworldly monsters rising out of the Maui ocean, Bea throws herself into the battle—until she’s suddenly and mysteriously transported to the perfect Christmas back in San Francisco, surrounded by her family and an excess of merrymaking.
As she finds herself trapped in the bizarre holiday rom-com of her nightmares, Bea must unravel a treacherous demon plot, save the world from unspeakable evil, and resist the siren song of a supervillain destiny. And hey, maybe she’ll find time for a little holiday cheer after all....

 

Romance Fantasy | Fantasy Urban [DAW, On Sale: July 5, 2022, Trade Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780756416539 / eISBN: 9780756416539]

Buy HOLIDAY HEROINEAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Book Depository | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Sarah Kuhn

Sarah Kuhn

Sarah Kuhn is the author of the popular Heroine Complex novelsa series starring Asian American superheroines. The first book is a Locus bestseller, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee, and one of the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog’s Best Books of 2016. Her YA debut, the beloved Japan-set romantic comedy I Love You So Mochi, is a Junior Library Guild selection and a nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. She has also penned a variety of short fiction and comics, including the critically acclaimed graphic novel Shadow of the Batgirl for DC Comics and the Star Wars audiobook original Doctor Aphra. Her newest novel, From Little Tokyo, With Love—a modern fairy tale with a half-Japanese heroine—is due out in May 2021. Additionally, she was a finalist for both the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. A third generation Japanese American, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and an overflowing closet of vintage treasures.

Long Bio: Sarah Kuhn is the author of Heroine Complex—the first in a popular series starring Asian American superheroines—for DAW Books (Penguin/Random House).

Pitched as “The Devil Wears Prada with superheroes,” the first book chronicles the adventures of Evie Tanaka, a put-upon personal assistant who is forced to pose as her diva superhero boss and must embrace her own hidden talents in order to protect our world from a demonic invasion.

Also featured in this book: evil cupcakes, hot romance, and supernatural karaoke battles! Heroine Complex Book #1 is a Locus Bestseller, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee for Best Urban Fantasy, and one of the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog’s Best Books of 2016! You can learn more, check out buy links and praise, and read an excerpt right here! And check out the exclusive cover reveal on io9!

Book #2 in the series, Heroine Worship, is an Amazon Best Book of the Month, a Book Riot pick for Best Books We Read in May, a Den of Geek Summer Reading Pick, a Ripped Bodice Best Book of the Year, and a nominee for RT’s Seal of Excellence. Check out the cover reveal on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy Blog!

The adventure continues with Book #3, Heroine’s Journey, and the novella Unsung Heroine—and a whole new trilogy kicked off in 2020 with Haunted Heroine! The latest book in the series, Hollywood Heroine, releases in July 2021.

Sarah’s YA debut, the Japan-set romantic comedy I Love You So Mochi, came out in summer 2019 from Scholastic and is a Junior Library Guild selection and a nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her newest novel, From Little Tokyo, With Love—a modern fairy tale with a half-Japanese heroine—is due out in May 2021 from Viking Books/Penguin Random House.

Sarah is also an in demand writer for licensed work. Her DC Comics YA graphic novel about Batgirl Cassandra Cain (with artist Nicole Goux), Shadow of the Batgirl, graced many Best of 2020 lists, including Nerdist, The AV Club, Den of Geek, and more. Her Star Wars audiobook original, Doctor Aphra, will be released as a hardcover in 2021. She is also writing a middle grade graphic novel series about the Archie Comics gang (with artist J. Bone) for Little Bee Books. The first volume, The Riverdale Diaries: Hello, Betty!, came out in 2020.

Other projects include a short in the upcoming DC anthology Wonderful Women of History about actress Keiko Agena (with artist Lynne Yoshii), The Ruby Equation (with artist Sally Jane Thompson) for the Eisner-nominated romance comics anthology Fresh Romance, a story for the anthology series Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions (with artist Siobhan Keenan) for IDW, a comic book continuation of the cult classic movie Clueless (with co-writer Amber Benson and artist Siobhan Keenan) for Boom! Studios, and a series of Barbie comics (with artists Alitha Martinez and Yishan Li) for Papercutz.

Sarah also wrote the geek girl romantic comedy novella One Con Glory, which has been dubbed “Pride and Prejudice at Comic-Con.” One Con Glory earned praise from io9 and USA Today and is in development as a feature film. Learn more about One Con Glory here!

Additionally, she has written personal essays on Sailor Moon cosplay, Asian American representation, and geek girl culture for The Toast, Uncanny Magazine, The Mary Sue, Apex Magazine, AngryAsianMan.com, Syfy Fangrrls, and the Hugo-nominated anthology Chicks Dig Comics. A longtime entertainment journalist, her articles on everything from Oscar season to Vulcan mating rituals have appeared in Back StageGeek Monthly, IGN.com, The Hollywood Reporter, StarTrek.com, Creative Screenwriting, and The Oakland Tribune.

Sarah has been featured as a guest speaker/panelist at such events as San Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic-Con, YALLWEST, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Asian American Comic-Con, Santa Monica Public Library’s “Women to Watch Out For,” the California Library Association Conference, WonderCon, and GeekGirlCon.

Additionally, she was a finalist for both the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. A third generation Japanese American, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and an overflowing closet of vintage treasures.

Heroine Complex

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