Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month!
While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate romantic fiction! Come back every day to read the fun author Q&As – calendar here – and each weekday in August, we’ll also have an author guest hosting the Romance of Reading FB page. Today (the ladies known as) Christina Lauren are doing the Q&A and will be keeping an eye on some posted Qs on the page.
They’re also giving away copies of
Dating You/Hating You
Love And Other Words and
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
to one lucky commenter on The Romance of Reading page.
This year is significantly smaller in scale. If you’re interested, you can read about some of the reasons why here. It’s been a crazy year, and a complicated few months.
Happy August. Isn’t life better with #ATouchofRomance?! xo
2018 RARM Questions:
Why do you write books?
Lauren: We both got started writing for different reasons. I’ve always written stories—since I can remember, I was writing. Even in college, and through graduate school, I had little stories I was working on, maybe a little Buffy fanfiction in a notebook in my dresser, maybe something else that popped into my head one day. If I didn’t write, it felt a little like the words were building inside, taking up more space. I’d have to get them out to clear my head. But it was only ever a hobby; the writing became a true passion when I found the Twilight fandom and met this community of amazingly talented women. Some were there just to write, and some were there because they wanted to hold only to the book series a little longer, but regardless, it was vibrant. And that’s when Christina found her storytelling soul. For both of us, from that point on in 2009, there was no turning back.
What do you consider to be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
Christina: I’ve lived a pretty tame life so the most courageous thing is probably this? Putting my words and myself out there, speaking in public (TERRIFYING), taking the leap to leave a steady life and job for one with the potential for so many ups and downs.
Tell us why you write romances or include strong romantic elements in your books?
Lauren: Oh, there are so many reasons we write romance! First and foremost, we write romance because we read romance, and we adore it. But we write it, too, because creating love stories brings us joy. More than any other genre, romance fosters community and allows us to explore the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in relationships. Because these novels are feel-good by definition (the HEA is a matter of fact in romance), we are guaranteed to push our characters as far as we want, knowing that we will fix it all in the end. That safety—knowing the heroine or hero of every novel wins every time—is a certain comfort that many of us want in a book, and it’s an uplifting promise we can all use a bit more of these days.
Tell us about a romantic moment in your life. (Either romantic love, or romantic sensibility.)
Lauren: Before my husband Keith and I got together, I’d had a crush on him for nearly a year—I used to call him ‘my boyfriend’ to my friends, in a joking way, because they all knew I had a thing for him. I didn’t think it was reciprocated because—although Keith is fun and social and we were on the same intramural softball team and spent a lot of time together in a group—he is relatively emotionally reserved.
Who knows why I didn’t just ask him out, but eventually (I mean, after months and months of having an unrequited crush on him), I began dating someone else, and for a number of reasons, this other relationship didn’t feel like a good fit from the start. But I was a few months in with this other guy when a big group of us—including the boyfriend, and Keith—went to Las Vegas for my 25th birthday. The first night there, the boyfriend was grouchy and stayed back in the hotel room while the rest of us went out to celebrate.
At one point, Keith and I split off from the group and we were going up this huge escalator in a hotel, looking down on the glittering lobby. Keith was making me laugh so hard, and we were having the best time. I remember thinking how much I wanted to kiss him—like, so much that it hurt to think about—and even if he didn’t feel the same way for me, I really couldn’t stay in this other relationship because it wasn’t fair to either of us.
Just then, Keith turned to me and very quietly said, “You know you have options, right?”
Even when I think think of that moment now, and the way he was looking directly at me, I get that heart-dropping sensation.
I was a little tipsy which made me brave enough to think I knew what he meant and asked, “Are you an option?”
He didn’t kiss me that night—I had a boyfriend, y’all!—but I ended things with the other guy, went out on my first date with Keith, and nineteen years later I still just want to kiss him all the time.
If you could tell your younger self anything (either as a writer or as a woman) what would it be?
Christina: I grew up in a really large family where there wasn’t much money, and the best way to get individual attention was to be the troublemaker. That was definitely not me, so I tended to fly under the radar. I never really had someone telling me I could accomplish anything I wanted, and as an adult it’s taken me some time to realize it. So if I could go back and talk to my younger self, I’d tell her that—but with an edit: You can accomplish anything you’re willing to work for.
Tell us something you uncovered in research that fascinated you.
Christina: Research is probably one of my favorite parts, because it really helps me connect with a character. If we’re going to write a fisherman, we need to know his thought process, even for things as simple as the weather. If he wakes up to an overcast sky, what does that mean? Is it normal, and how will it impact his schedule and all the things he needs to get accomplished. We can’t just write that he pulls up a line, we have to have some idea of the moving parts involved, the process he goes through and why.
While writing Dirty Rowdy Thing I read so many books and articles on the Canadian fishing industry. I was both fascinated and saddened by the way climate change and development has negatively impacted not only wildlife in that region, but also industries and families that have relied upon it for generations. Those real life details are what helped shape Finn’s storyline and made the stakes feel real.
How do you handle the voices in your head competing for their story to be written? (Thanks Eileen!)
Lauren: We love all the voices in our heads! In fact, it works out very well for us because we try to write about three books a year, so we need all of those voices to keep shouting, please. The more, the better. It means that when we finish something, the next thing is pushing its way to the front. There’s no better feeling than being able to wrap up something you love, and still be excited to move onto the next thing.
If you could live for a month somewhere (either in the present or past) where (and when, if applicable) would it be? Why?
Lauren: Oooh this is a tough one. I think I’d like to live in Zurich for a month to see if it’s true that I would move there in a heartbeat if I could.
Christina: This changes depending on what’s happening in my life. Because of a book we’re working on I would probably say Hawaii.
What is (one of) the most remarkable/inspiring things that has happened to you as a reader or writer?
Lauren: I can say, hands down, the most inspiring thing for us is meeting readers, and we aren’t saying that to be glib. There’s something about the connection we feel with someone who has read our books and really felt something while reading it—it’s hard to describe, but it makes every stressful day with a negative word count, or long hours of editing worth it. In particular, meeting people who have read Autoboyography and seen themselves in it—that is by far the most amazing professional experience we’ve ever had.
Christina Lauren recommends:
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels.
They are published in over 30 languages, have received multiple starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal, won both the Seal of Excellence and Book of the Year from RT Magazine, and have been featured in publications such as Forbes, The Washington Post, Time, Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine and more. Their twenty-first novel, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is out September 4th, 2018.
Learn more here: christinalaurenbooks.com
Buy Christina Lauren‘s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!
Authors on The Romance of Reading page:
1 – Jeannie Moon 2 – Lenora Bell
3 – Nancy Herkness 6 – Kimberli A. Bindschatel
7 – Cathy Maxwell 8 – Amelia Grey
9 – Liz Talley 10 – Dylann Crush
13 – Marilyn Brant 14 – Sharla Lovelace
15 – Sally MacKenzie 16 – Regina Kyle
17 – Mimi Milan 20 – Christine Nolfi
21 – Susie Orman Schnall 22 – Caroline Linden
23 – Shirley Hailstock 24 – Talia Surova
27 – Lisa Patton 28 – Tracey Livesay
29 – Danelle Harmon 30 – Minerva Spencer
* 31 – Christina Lauren (modified guest host)