Call him as focused as his physicist. Deep into his next novel, Christopher Meeks didn’t realize his book Love At Absolute Zero was a finalist inForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year until weeks after the announcement. An ad exec had contacted him to see if he’d like an ad in their magazine. He didn’t know what she was talking about. “Congratulations,” she said, “Your novel is a finalist,” and she explained what it meant. Delighted, he looked into how he missed such news. He found the notice in an unopened email with the subject line, “2011 Finalists Announced.” Said Meeks, “I didn’t know I was in that competition. I’d sent my books off for a contest, but I thought it was another one. This email surely wasn’t about my book.” But it was. Love At Absolute Zero is a comic romp about Gunnar Gunderson, a 32-year-old star physicist at the University of Wisconsin. The moment he's given tenure at the university, he can think of only one thing: finding a wife. His research falters into what happens to matter near absolute zero (−459.67 °F), but he has an instant new plan. Channeling his inner salmon, he's determined to meet his soul mate within three days using the Scientific Method. The book has had an unusual path to publication. His New York agent, Jim McCarthy at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, loved Love At Absolute Zero and stuck with it for more than two years, McCarthy could not find a publisher willing to commit to it. Three times McCarthy found enthusiastic editors—but the publishers’ marketing departments each basically said, “We don’t know how to market it. Pass.” Finally McCarthy suggested to Meeks that maybe another agent would have other resources. McCarthy wanted to help and would call other agents for him. After a few more agents were cordial but stumped, Meeks stopped the cycle. He didn’t want to spend more years searching and waiting for the old system to work. He brought the novel out last September under his own imprint, White Whisker Books. The love story earned three earlier awards before ForeWord’s announcement: a Best Indie Romance Award at Red Adept Reviews, a Noble Award for Best Novel (not Nobel) at MyShelf.com, and it landed in theTop Ten Best Fiction list at Book Chase. “As engaging as it is amusing, Love at Absolute Zero is, ultimately, a heartfelt study of the tension between the head and heart, science and emotion, calculation and chance,” says Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews. Top-Ten Amazon critic Grady Harp, who has reviewed all five of Meeks’s books, writes, “It is a given, now, that Christopher Meeks is a master craftsman as a writer. What surprises us in this novel is just how much research he's done to get the scientific part of it right. Where does all of this passionate knowledge of physics lie, knowledge that allows him to write so comfortably, opening every chapter with a scientific quote, that we novices stay on board with him? It is a gift --and one of the many that continue to emerge from the pen and mind of so genuinely fine a writer.” “These days,” says Meeks, who grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota, “a good novel doesn’t have to sit in a drawer. I’d been a senior editor at a publishing house once, too, and so I took my knowledge of publishing, hired a good editor, proofreaders, and designers, and published it through an imprint I started, White Whisker Books—named for my cat with one white whisker. Independent publishing takes a hell of a lot of energy, however. It’s energy I’d prefer to spend writing the next novel, but I had to help my own book.” ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards program was designed for booksellers and librarians in the process of discovering distinctive books across a number of genres with judgments based on their own authority and on patron interest. The 2011 Gold, Silver, and Bronze Award Winners, as well as the Editor's Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction, will be announced Saturday, June 23 at the annual American Library Association conference in Anaheim, California. To see ForeWord’s webpage for the book, click here. To buy a copy in print or for Kindle on Amazon, click here. To buy one for the Nook, click here.