BOOK BITES: Fighting Chance

Today I am delighted to welcome fellow mystery author B.K. Stevens to share a “bite” of  her YA mystery FIGHTING CHANCE (Poisoned Pen Press, October 2015). I recently read it, and absolutely loved it. It even got me interested in possibly taking a Krav Maga class one of these days! FIGHTING CHANCE has been nominated for both an Agatha and an Anthony award. Oh…and there’s a yummy chocolate cake and fudge icing recipe below, too!

fighting chance

Who is your main character? What is he like?

Seventeen-year-old Matt Foley is a thoroughly nice guy with good instincts and a generous nature—for example, he won’t stand idly by when someone else is being bullied. But he sometimes gets taken in by a pretty face or a smooth talker, he’s too quick to believe gossip, and he tends to think the people in his own popular crowd at school are superior to the misfits. He’s also a star basketball player and a talented martial artist who sees himself as a jock who’s bored with school—but he’s smarter than he thinks he is, and reading and writing interest him more than he’ll admit. Although he loves his parents and knows they’re good people, he can’t help feeling distant from them. By the end of the novel, Matt’s taken some important steps toward growing up.

What would Matt choose for his last meal?

Matt loves simple, basic foods such as pizza and cheeseburgers—and that puts him at odds with his parents, who favor more healthful dishes such as tofu stir-fry, quinoa patties, and gluten-free trifle. For his last meal, Matt would choose fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and chocolate cake. When he comes home one day and sees his mother preparing these favorites of his, he’s instantly suspicious: “Too much comfort food—something bad must be happening.” (He’s right.)

How about you? What would you choose for your last meal?

Like Matt, I’m no gourmet and have pretty basic tastes in food. For my last meal, I’d choose Caesar salad, steak, roasted potatoes, and a glass (or two) of Merlot, followed by a hot fudge sundae and an oatmeal-raisin cookie. (I had to cheat and squeeze in two desserts—I love hot fudge sundaes, but who’d want to leave this life without one last cookie?)

Why should someone bite into FIGHTING CHANCE?

I sometimes describe FIGHTING CHANCE as a cross between The Hardy Boys and The Karate Kid: It’s a fair-play whodunit laced with action and adventure, and it’s also a coming-of-age story about a teenager growing into adulthood while studying a martial art. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a smartly crafted mystery filled with suspense and intrigue”; Booklist says, “Stevens’ portrait of Matt, Graciana, and their town is a compelling one, full of convincingly real dangers.” All the martial arts scenes—classes, tournament, real-life clashes—are carefully choreographed with help from my husband, a fifth-degree black belt. I hope both teenagers and adults will enjoy the mystery, the humor, and the account of a young man coming to a better understanding of his friends, his family, and himself.

Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?

Matt loves chocolate cake, and so do I. And I love the recipe for Cockeyed Cake, from Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book. It’s incredibly simple (only nine ingredients, mixed and baked in the same pan), it uses no milk or eggs (perfect for vegans, and for people who run out of eggs), and it’s amazingly rich and moist. Here’s the link:

As a bonus, here’s my mother’s fudge icing recipe (also incredibly simple, but not perfect for vegans):

Fudge Icing

2 squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
3-5 tablespoons milk
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Melt butter and chocolate in 3 tablespoons milk.
  • Blend in sugar and vanilla; add more milk if necessary.  Stir until thick enough to spread.

Thank you so much for sharing this “bite” of your book and the recipes!

You can connect with B.K. Stevens on her Website, Amazon and Facebook.

FIGHTING CHANCE, an Agatha and Anthony finalist, is available at Amazon Kobo Barnes & Noble.

You can read the first chapter of FIGHTING CHANCE at









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15 Responses to BOOK BITES: Fighting Chance

  1. Thanks for sharing more about Fighting Chance…and the chocolate cake recipe sounds yummy. I love “a cross between The Hardy Boys and The Karate Kid.”

    • Administrator says:

      I love that too! Thanks for stopping by, Judy!

      • B.K. Stevens says:

        Thanks, Judy! I’m glad you like the tag line–I’m usually horrible at that sort of thing. And the recipe is indeed yummy. It’s my husband’s favorite cake–he asks for it every year on his birthday.

  2. Sounds like a good book for young folks who need some guidance but who don’t think old mom and dad are the right ones. When they are thirty they might feel differently, but for the ones stepping gingerly into adulthood, they might need someone else telling them what’s out there. B.K., you are a jack-of-all-trades with your books.

    • Administrator says:

      It really is a wonderful book! Thanks for stopping by, Gayle!

      • B.K. Stevens says:

        Thanks for your comment, Gayle. It reminds me of a quotation usually attributed to Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” In Fighting Chance, I do try–not too blatantly, I hope–to slide in the idea that parents aren’t always as dense as their children think they are.

  3. Linda Thorne says:

    I really need to look at your profile page on Amazon and other places. I didn’t know about this. So busy that I miss things. Really enjoying your collection of short stories right now. Looks like you’ve done a lot more.

    • B.K. Stevens says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the short story collection, Linda! Yes, I’ve written a lot, but I’ve been at it for a long, long time. Things have sped up a bit since I decided to take a break (which may turn out to be a permanent break) from teaching. Before then, I wrote a lot of short stories for Hitchcock’s but had never gotten a novel published. I’m not really sure about what’s going to happen next. That keeps it interesting, I guess.

  4. I love all Bonnie ‘s books do far and have recommended “Fighting Chance” to many friends with teens. They loved it too! Should get many awards. When are your next YA books out, Nina and BK?

    • Administrator says:

      My graphic novel, FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION, which I would say is older YA, will be out online with later this year. Thanks for asking, Beth! Good to “see” you here!!!

      • B.K. Stevens says:

        I don’t have a book coming out–I’m working on a manuscript but still have a way to go. I did just get a story accepted by Hitchcock’s, so I’m excited about that. Don’t know when it will be out, though. Thanks for recommending Fighting Chance to friends!

  5. Mo Walsh says:

    I was so disappointed you couldn’t make Malice Domestic, Bonnie, and present your book at the panels. I had just read the ARC (thanks!) and loved the way you wove together the mystery, martial arts, and maturing of the main character, Matt. I’m buying a copy for my 15-year-old nephew for his birthday (but don’t tell him).

    • B.K. Stevens says:

      Mo, I felt devastated when I couldn’t go to Malice–I broke the stupid arm just the day before we were going to leave from Bethesda. I tried to convince the doctor that I wouldn’t have any trouble traveling with a humerus in two pieces, but he was not impressed. He was right. The surgery went well, though, and the bone is apparently healed. So, barring another disaster, I should see you at Bouchercon. I’m so glad you enjoyed Fighting Chance–I hope your nephew does, too!

  6. Amy M. Reade says:

    Hi Bonnie,

    The book sounds great. I have a 13-year-old. Do you think the book is appropriate for his age, or is it more for teens who are a bit older? I can’t wait to try the chocolate cake and icing, by the way.

    • B.K. Stevens says:

      I think 13 should be okay. (My grandson is ten, and my daughter isn’t letting him read it yet but says she’ll reconsider in a couple of years. And she’s very strict–she doesn’t let her children watch any television, either, not even PBS.) There’s a lot of martial arts action but no gore; on-the-page sex doesn’t get hotter than a goodnight kiss, though it’s clear some characters have had other experiences off the page; cursing doesn’t go beyond an occasional “hell” and the like. You should definitely try the recipes! I made the icing today–for cupcakes, not for cake–and enjoyed scraping the last remnants out of the pot.