Wandering the show floor at New York Comic Con, you’ll see a lot of crossovers and mash-ups, some that seem natural, and others playfully absurd. And then there are the pairings that make absolutely perfect sense, such as tea and books.
Author Randee Dawn teamed up with Tea & Absinthe, a popular tea company known for themed and fandom-related products, to create a special tea related to her recently released contemporary fantasy novel, Tune in Tomorrow (published by Solaris Books, an imprint of Rebellion Developments, in August 2022). Dawn, who signed books at the Tea & Absinthe booth on Friday and Saturday, drew upon her background as an entertainment journalist—her knowledge of “the backstage stuff and the shenanigans and how the sausage gets made”—to create her fictional world.
The novel features a reality show called Tune in Tomorrow run by and made for mythical creatures that star humans.
“Mythical creatures are not going to want to watch Game of Thrones—they’re going to want to see the things that we find very mundane,” Dawn explained. “They’re not going to care about dragons, they care about… Writing checks! Or embezzlement! Or adultery!… And that’s what took me over to writing about reality shows and soap operas.”
Where does the tea come in? The human actors on Tune in Tomorrow are all given a brownie—a type of helper faerie that, according to fae lore, lives in the home, a concept Dawn transferred to the dressing room. These brownies act essentially as interns and have to do anything the actors ask… including turning into tea if the human fancies a cup. And the tea tastes different depending on which brownie de-constitutes.
“But the good news is that they do reconstitute… and it’s good not to ask too many questions about how that happens,” Dawn said jokingly.
As a big tea drinker herself and a longtime fan of Tea & Absinthe, Dawn reached out about a partnership, never imagining that she would end up at NYCC. “I’ve never been to Comic Con, so this is totally amazing!” she said.
Customers who bought the book received a few sachets of limited edition brownie tea, custom-made to complement the novel. “This tastes more like actual brownies than whatever you might think a helper brownie would taste like,” Dawn, who was involved in designing the tea, explained. The company sent her samples of various types of tea, and she chose the one that tasted closest to chocolate. “It’s not hot chocolate you’re drinking, but you definitely get a strong chocolate taste to it. I really love the taste myself.”
Dawn’s unique book display was originally a custom cake stand left over from her book launch party at Chicon8. The specially designed cake, created by Mark Lie, resembled the book cover on an old-fashioned TV screen.
While Tune in Tomorrow is a standalone book, Dawn has ideas for a potential sequel set in the same universe. She is also working on a separate novel project.
As an entertainment journalist, Dawn has had a chance to see how film and TV work behind the scenes. While knowing too much can spoil her own enjoyment—“Sometimes, I wish I could Eternal Sunshine myself,” she joked—she loves the experience of interviewing interesting people, including Neil Gaiman, Tom Sturridge, and Ke Huy Quan.
“I get to indulge a lot of my geeky interests when I’m doing my job,” she said. “People always say, ‘write what you know,’ and this is what I know, and here it is in the book!”
In Tune in Tomorrow, small-town girl Starr Weatherby is offered a big role in a reality show performed for the entertainment of the Fae. As Starr becomes a fan favorite, she learns about the show’s dark underbelly—and the mysterious disappearance of her predecessor. Though determined to keep her dream job, her actions threaten to bring down the entire show.
In addition, Dawn runs the Rooftop Readings events at Ample Hills Creamery in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where once a month, 3-4 authors read from their novels, and audiences listen while enjoying an ice cream (included in the price of the ticket).
To learn more about Randee Dawn and Tune in Tomorrow, visit her website at https://randeedawn.com/.