April 16th, 2024
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Investigating a conspiracy really wasn't on Nikki's very long to-do list.

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Escape to the Scottish Highlands in this enemies to lovers romance!

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It�s not the heat�it�s the pixie dust.

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They have a perfect partnership�
But an attempt on her life changes everything.

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Jealousy, Love, and Murder: The Ancient Games Turn Deadly

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Secret Identity, Small Town Romance
Available 4.15.24

April's Affections and Intrigues: Love and Mystery Bloom

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Fresh Fiction Blog
Get to Know Your Favorite Authors

Denny S. Bryce and Eliza Knight | A Friendship Between the Queen of Jazz and an Iconic Movie Star

1--What is the title of your latest release?


2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

We teamed up to collaborate on an exciting novel that uncovers the boundary-breaking, genuine friendship between Ella Fitzgerald, the Queen of Jazz, and iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe.

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

We started to research the idea in 2019. On a Friday afternoon in 2019, we were together for one of our monthly write-ins, having some lunch and contemplating Hollywood, actors, musicians, and all the drama that has unfolded throughout history. Something sparked that day, and as we leapt down research rabbit hole in search of an idea, we stumbled on the friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, a story we felt compelled to write. From the moment we learned about these two women, the friendship they forged, and how much people didn't know about it, there was no stopping us!

And for about two years, we were reading and digging into their story while we worked on our solo projects. Then, in 2021, we decided it was time to buckle down. Over the next year, we worked on plots, outlines, and spreadsheets. We’d meet up on Zoom to discuss how we wanted to go about writing the project. We wrote some sample chapters, and in early 2022, our agents presented the idea to editors. We were contracted in early 2022, and it took off from there! We were so excited to get to share this story with our readers.


4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?

We absolutely would, and many times during our research and writing process, we said, “Oh man, I wish we could be there right now!”


5--What are three words that describe your protagonists?

Determined, savvy, artists.


6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

We learned so much! Even more than we could write here. But specifically, we found it fascinating that Ella and Marilyn grew up with very similar backgrounds and childhoods. Beyond being women in male-dominated industries, these two bonded because they had a lot in common beyond the celebrity scene. It was so exciting and satisfying when we were developing the timeline and doing research to see how often they were in the same towns at the same time and imagining the two of them hanging out together.


7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

Both! We edited as we went, and then edited some more. There were many rounds to make sure the voice and themes were seamless.


8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

Denny – I love sushi. And a good dry, white wine, but not with a grapefruit aftertaste, and yes, I’m more a wine and food, foodie! I love pairing wine with my meals.

Eliza – Pizza… I know this sounds odd, but I love a gourmet brick oven pizza with a nice glass of red!


9--Describe your writing space/office!

Eliza – A mess! I’m surrounded by books and paper, and it’s my favorite. But when I get into the middle of a book, everything sort of explodes everywhere and I’m too in my head to sort it. But I also know where everything is. Like that sticky note I marked a date on, it’s underneath the pile over there. LOL.

Denny – Eliza and I share many things, including the phrase to describe our respective offices, and “A Mess” is spot on. There are books everywhere, ink pens everywhere (that now that I think of it, I don’t use), and stuff, I just don’t want to mention…


10--Who is an author you admire?

Denny – Too many because they all are admirable: Toni Morrison, Alice Walker (whom I’ve met, and she is amazing), Terry McMillan, Leon Uris, Chaim Potok, Emily Bronte, Thomas Harris, Stephen King, Harper Lee, Alex Haley, and Diana Gabaldon. Each of these authors has written at least one book, if not more, that I inhaled and remember vividly. So yeah, and that’s just a few of the authors that came to mind.

Eliza – Way too many to list here! But if I had to name one I’d say Jane Austen. As a woman writing in the early 19th century, she could not at first publish under her own name. She was an early feminist, believing men and women should have the same rights, and many of her female characters do end up being empowered. So I am grateful for early women writers like her that paved the path for us female writers today.


11--Is there a book that changed your life?

Denny – The World According to Garp by John Irving, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. I simply cannot pick one. But these three were sit-down, one-session reads (and Ms. Gabaldon’s book is almost 1000 pages longJ!)

Eliza – My second favorite author is Charlotte Bronte, and the reason is because Jane Eyre was a book, I read many times as a teenager. There was such resolve and strength in Jane Eyre. I admired her as a character.


12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.

This is one of those stories that had more than one call, and we’d like to share a little about both. Both of our agents were on that initial call where we learned that two publishers were interested in bidding on the book. And that was some snatch-the-breath-out-of-our-chests news, and after we recovered from realizing we had an auction situation happening, we let the agents take it from there. And just a few days later, we received the next call where we learned that William Morrow had won the bid. Next, there was a lot of shaking, laughter, and giggles. But honestly, we also felt satisfied. After working on this novel since 2019, we sold it in February of 2022. We had a story to tell and were determined to get it told. Neither one of us doubted it would sell. So, that’s why we believe satisfied is the word that hits the right spot.


13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

Denny – I read it all. Of course, a lot of historical fiction, but I just finished a science fiction novel I fell IN LOVE WITH.  So, no genre is safe around my TBR list.

Eliza – I read everything, historical fiction, romance, thriller, women’s fiction, YA, classics, nonfiction… I have no preference as long as it’s a good book with a great hook.


14--What’s your favorite movie?

Denny – I am a classic movie nerd. So, it would be sinful for me to name just one. So, I’ll go with three: Claudine, a 1974 film starring Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a 1958 film starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, and Casablanca, a 1952 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Berman.

Eliza – The Princess Bride


15--What is your favorite season?

Denny – Summer.

Eliza – Whichever season doesn’t have snow, lol.


16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Denny – With champagne and heartfelt joy—thank you, and a chorus of let’s keep this going!

Eliza – With gratitude that I’ve made it around the globe another year! And with champagne.


17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

Denny – I recently binged “Suits” on Netflix. OMG! That show is AMAZING.

Eliza – I just finished watching Fool Me Once, on Netflix, it’s a thriller adapted from Harlan Coben’s book, and it had a great twist I didn’t see coming.


18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Denny – Korean, Japanese, and Jamaican. (And yes, I am not the one-word answer girl!

Eliza – As I mentioned earlier, I love pizza, but I also love sushi and tacos. Really, I don’t think I have a favorite as long as it’s delicious.


19--What do you do when you have free time?

Denny – Trying to walk more, longing to travel more, and wishing I could clean my office and keep it that way for more than a day.

Eliza – Read or go for a long hike in nature.


20--What can readers expect from you next?

Denny – My next novel is THE TRIAL OF MRS. RHINELANDER (July 23), inspired by a real-life scandal in the 1920s about a sensational divorce case that ignited an explosive battle over race and class.


CAN'T WE BE FRIENDS by Denny S. BryceEliza Knight

Can't We Be Friends

Award-winning author Denny S. Bryce and USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight collaborate on a brilliant novel that uncovers the boundary-breaking, genuine friendship between Ella Fitzgerald, the Queen of Jazz, and iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe. 

One woman was recognized as the premiere singer of her era with perfect pitch and tireless ambition.

One woman was the most glamorous star in Hollywood, a sex symbol who took the world by storm.

And their friendship was fast and firm…

1952: Ella Fitzgerald is a renowned jazz singer whose only roadblock to longevity is society’s attitude toward women and race. Marilyn Monroe’s star is rising despite ongoing battles with movie studio bigwigs and boyfriends. When she needs help with her singing, she wants only the best—and the best is the brilliant Ella Fitzgerald. But Ella isn’t a singing teacher and declines—then the two women meet, and to everyone’s surprise but their own, they become fast friends.

On the surface, what could they have in common? Yet each was underestimated by the men in their lives—husbands, managers, hangers-on. And both were determined to gain. Each fought for professional independence and personal agency in a time when women were expected to surrender control to those same men.

This novel reveals and celebrates their surprising bond over a decade and serves as a poignant reminder of how true friendship can cross differences to bolster and sustain us through haunting heartbreak and wild success.


Women's Fiction Historical | Historical [William Morrow Paperbacks, On Sale: March 5, 2024, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780063282902 / eISBN: 9780063282919]

Buy CAN'T WE BE FRIENDSAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Walmart.com | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Denny S. Bryce

Denny S. Bryce

An award-winning author, Denny won the RWA Golden Heart and was a three-time GH finalist, including twice for WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES. She also writes book reviews for NPR Books and entertainment articles for FROLIC Media.

The former professional dancer is a public relations professional who spent over two decades, running her marketing and event management firm. For nearly 10 of those years, however, she wrote and read Buffy/Spike fan fiction. A devoted fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Angel (the TV series), she is also a classic film buff and loves genre TV. Current favorites include A Discovery of Witches; This is Us, The Flash, and Seal Team.

She is represented by Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates. A member of the Historical Novel Society, Women's Fiction Writers Association, and Novelists, Inc., she is a frequent speaker at author events and lives in Northern Virginia.



About Eliza Knight

Eliza Knight

Eliza Knight is the multi-published author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor.

Stolen Bride | Pirates of Britannia | Prince Charlie's Angels | Scots of Honor





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