College freshman Jill Holloway takes one look at the stuck-up girls going through sorority rush and nearly returns her borrowed dress and heels. Against her best judgment, she ends up falling for the prestige and parties, and snagging a bid from a top house. After moving in, she quickly grows skeptical of her too-perfect sorority sisters. She tries to ask questions, though no one will take time from their busy social calendar to give her any real answers.
Jill wastes no time digging for everything she’s not supposed to find, and soon comes face-to-face with a big and bloody secret hidden in her sorority’s basement. She knows she’s in over her head, but taking off so soon would raise the perfectly-plucked eyebrows of her suspicious new sisters. She’s stuck until she can make a smooth exit.
But the closer she gets to leaving, the more it becomes clear that it won’t be as simple as she hoped. A tempting fraternity guy, a best friend who needs her, and new details about what has really been happening in the basement have her questioning what her next move should be, and whether or not it’ll be worth the risks.
HANDPICKED is a New Adult coming of age, with elements of suspense and romance.
Handpicked by Dani Oden
Publication date: August 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
“We shouldn’t be talking out here,” Sister President said, and the three of them swiftly set their glasses down and disappeared through a doorway on the other side of the room.
Once the door had closed behind them, Hannah predicted, “Something’s about to go down.”
“Where’d the pourers go?” Lindy asked, glancing around.
“You guys are weirding me out.” I interjected. “Can’t we just enjoy this? There’s food and good drinks and we won’t have hangovers. Maybe we should try to meet some of the other-“
I didn’t get a chance to finish. All the lights in the room went out at once, and the tall curtains lining the wall of windows fell dramatically in front of the glass, blocking out the sunlight. Someone shrieked, and a frantic hush fell over our group.
A strong female voice grabbed our attention. “Get ready, bitches.”
A candle flickered, illuminating a face I didn’t recognize. “Your new life starts now.”
Is HANDPICKED based on events in your own life?
Yes and no. I had a sorority experience of my own in college, though it was nothing like what our main character goes through. She’s suspicious and skeptical and constantly questioning things, with good reason to. Though, I did tap into my memories of things like rush and pledge education and bid day to bring some realism to the story.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
I wanted to play off the exclusivity stereotype in sororities and –spoiler alert!—there is a pretty big plot point involving a hand, so it was a natural choice.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I feel closest to our narrator Jill, since we see everything through her eyes. But, I have to admit I liked writing Hannah, with all her f-bombs, snark, and fraternity connections.
If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
I would have loved to have introduced more of the members of Jill’s sorority. I had to really hold back in that area since most weren’t necessary for this particular story, but I’m excited to explore more of their personalities in future books.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Hmm, let’s see. The girls are part of the Alpha Gamma chapter of Iota Beta, and each of those are Greek letters that stands for something important to me. I, B, A, G. That’s the fun part about using the Greek system as a setting, there’s lots of room for symbols and hidden meetings…
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I can say that Jill is still our narrator, and the story picks up just a few months after HANDPICKED ends, still in her freshman year of college. And, she has more responsibilities now so the stakes are much higher. I’m going to leave it at that! I’m also working on a prequel, which I’m pretty excited about. Readers will see that Jill mentions that she used to be a camp counselor, so I’m going to release some stories from that part of her life.
Anything else you want to add?
Thank you very much for having me!
Dani Oden, est. 1983, has the entertainment tastes of a twelve-year old. When she’s not consuming content meant for people less than half her age and blogging about it while her baby sleeps on her lap, she can be found writing novels, roadtripping, wine-tasting, and asking her husband to snuggle with her.
She is also a karaoke virgin.