What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
One-thousand-percent dropping You With a View by Jessica Joyce. I was lucky enough to read an ARC (by begging her for it, of course) and I MUST insist that everyone preorder it. Jessica’s writing style is an absolute delight to read, and the chemistry she writes is as explosive as it is natural. It releases July 6th, and it is the swoony romance of my dreams.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
I haven’t read anything for the first time lately, but I did just pick up a nice illustrated copy of the Scarlet Letter at a thrift shop that I am planning to reread soon.
Do you re-read books And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I am an absolute comfort rereader. If I find a book that I love, I will often return to it when I am in any sort of rut—be it personally, emotionally, or writing-wise. Something about knowing everything you’re going to get ahead of time is very calming to me. I have reread Worse Guy by Ruby Dixon at least…a dozen times. I feel no shame in this. Crulden is…*shivers*.
What are your go-to genres?
Romance. I write romance because I love romance. The giddy feelings, the spicy scenes, the happily ever after against all odds? Yes, please. I will read an occasional thriller or horror novel if the mood strikes, but my mood is usually very romance-centric.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Howl’s Moving Castle or The Hobbit. One taught me what I would be when I grew up (hobbit), and the other taught me the sort of man I would always swoon for (chaotic men with a strange sense of humor that are prone to grand gestures).
What books are on your bedside table right now?
The new-cover edition of Ice Planet Barbarians (it stays close) and Riot Woman by Eleanor Whitney.
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
Okay, hear me out. Dog-earing is considered a cardinal sin in some (most?) circles, but I like having the physical reminder when I’m re-reading. Like a little aha moment as to how far I got before I had to stop last time. To me, books are made to be well-loved, and dog-ears are like little book tattoos expressing how desperate we were not to lose our place.
What is your ideal reading setting?
I think I might have been a mouse in another life—not only because I am also small, terrified of people, and sort of squeaky, but also because I thrive in tight, dark spaces. Which is exactly where I like to read. Usually in a blanket burrito in my bed in the dark.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
Meet Cute Romance Bookshop! They are a queer-owned, feminist bookshop for romance readers. I basically stalk their social media, just dying to make a trip out to San Diego for a visit. I love that more and more romance-centric bookshops are opening, giving romance readers a safe space to enjoy the genre, and the people at Meet Cute seem absolutely lovely. I was recently given the opportunity to partner with them for my pre order campaign, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was a kid, I wrote a silly poem for a magazine in some sort of contest. It didn’t win, but they did send back a nice printed copy with a sweet note. I didn’t really think about it again, but later I found out that my grandmother had kept it. She told me how much she loved it, and I realized then that even if something I do doesn’t meet the expectations I put on it, there’s still a chance it might touch someone. She still has it to this day, and she even pulled it back out when I got my book deal to show me. (She’s my hero.)
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to travel much, but I hope to in the future. I would love to see the city I wrote Cassie and Aiden living in, and I would love to return to New York for a longer stay at some point, since one of my future books is set there!
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
There’s a nice little Lana-shaped hollow on my side of the bed that I have made into a little satellite office of sorts. A lot of magic happens there. Crying, too, but mostly magic.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both! When an idea strikes, it’s like I have all the energy in the world. I can dive into a doc like a madwoman pecking out words a mile a minute. Usually by the end though, I am completely drained. My actual go-to explanation I give people after a long writing session is a very eloquent: “my brain is mush”.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Currently, I have two unpublished books expected to come out over the next year or so, but I have…at least four works in progress that are unfinished and another three draft ideas lurking in a doc on top of that. I have a tendency to get restless working on one thing and sometimes jump around and peck at other projects when I’m stalled on a current one.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
So, the first thing anyone on your team will tell you (and they did, multiple times, but I am a bad girl) is to not read your reviews. I often do, but I do it because I was so afraid of criticism when I started this process. I don’t want to go into this journey afraid of critique, so I have been using the experience as a sort of exposure therapy of sorts. The good ones are an obvious serotonin boost and a reminder of why I wanted to do this. However, there have definitely been some that were less than positive, but I am trying to learn to take those into account, to learn from them if I can, and I have at times! (Although I’m learning that sometimes, your book just isn’t someone’s cup of tea. And I am learning that this is okay.) Some critique I have gotten has helped me in later books, so in a way, I am grateful for the good and the bad, because it is a reminder of how lucky I am to be able to experience this opportunity at all.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Listen, your apocalyptic YA, your “we absconded from earth” alien YA romance, or your first attempt at an adult romance that you chickened out on at the first kissing scene might never amount to anything, but someday, you’re gonna go far, kid. (Or well, a marginally good distance, at the very least. We wouldn’t want you to get a big head.)
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
What are your three favorite things right now?
Reese’s Dipped Pretzels (I might as well buy stock in these things at this point), my new water bottle that I decked out in stickers from a nifty store called The Groovy Coop (this place was MAGIC) that I visited while passing through Texas recently, and a shirt I got from Rebel and Fleur that has a very titillating photo of Pedro Pascal made up as a Playboy magazine cover (it’s…beautiful).
Your favorite travel destination and why?
Again, homebody here, but ONE day. My dream vacation is New Zealand; I am dying to go on the tour that takes you all over to the places where they filmed The Lord of the Rings and fangirl.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
A steak as big as my head, a crispy crab cake, and an amaretto sour (they taste like popsicles!).
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Frida Kahlo, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, AOC, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift and Laverne Cox.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?
Let’s say a mystery, because my life in general is still pretty much a mystery to me. As for who might play me, I’d hope for Zoey Deschanel, but specifically her as her character Jess in New Girl. (I literally discussed this with a friend who said I embody the energy portrayed in the scene where Jess, Bearclaw, and Geslinger all write a musical in one night about woodland creatures in a manic, drunken episode. She’s out of line, but she’s right.)
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
The last show I finished that I would recommend is The Last of Us. Yes, it’s about mushroom zombies, sure, but the emotional depth they put into this show about mushroom zombies is astounding. The budding relationship between Ellie and Joel is downright heartwrenching.
Currently, I am watching the second season of Yellowjackets, which I am obsessed with. Christina Ricci is brilliant.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
The Best by Tina Turner. Now, I am not saying I am going to do it justice, but I am forever trying to have my David Rose moment.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
“Surviving on an Island for Dummies”
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