Q: What inspired you to start writing romance novels, and what led you to the New York Times bestseller list?
A: We’ve always read and loved romance and met online while writing fanfiction. After our first collaboration—a short chapter for a fanfiction contest online—we decided to write a book together and wanted to try to capture some of the joy and swoons of our favorite romance novels. As for the New York Time’s list, that’s all thanks to our readers, and our publisher for working to get our books into as many hands as possible. The only thing we control is the books we write, the rest is up to the audience.
Q: You've collaborated on several novels as a writing duo. How do you divide the workload and what challenges have you faced while working together?
A: The truth is that it’s different for every book and depends on what else is going on. Except for during the pandemic, we’ve always outlined the books together. Christina usually flies from Utah to California where Lauren lives, and we spend a few days talking about the story, watching movies for inspiration, people-watching at restaurants and cafes, and plotting everything out. Then we go to our separate homes and start writing. Sometimes we divide by character or chapter and write in chronological order, uploading those chapters as they’re completed and eventually combining to edit and edit and edit some more. Other times one of us might be drafting while the other is doing revisions on something else. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that this job is always changing and we’ve learned to be flexible in the process.
Q: Your novels often feature strong female protagonists. How do you create these characters, and what do you hope readers take away from them?
A: Our female characters are strong because women are strong. And, like women out in the real world, our characters exhibit that strength in many ways. Some are overtly powerful and assertive; their strength is more obvious. Other women are strong in a more subtle way and exhibit their strength through action and quiet determination. We want every single one of our readers to see her or himself in at least one of our characters. There’s no one single way to be a heroine.
Q: Your novel The Unhoneymooners features a unique twist on the traditional enemies-to-lovers trope. Can you discuss how you approach subverting common romance tropes?
A: We had the most fun writing The Unhoneymooners and hope it comes through on the page. And to be honest, we never start with the trope. We don’t set out to write an enemies-to-lovers book, or a second-chance romance, or a friends-to-lovers; we start with the characters and figure out who they would fall in love with and go from there.
Whether it’s making Lily the outdoorsy adventurer and Leo the city boy in Something Wilder, or crafting both Olive and Ethan as grumpy pessimists in The Unhoneymooners, we try to take what you’re expecting, and turn it on its head. We always hope to surprise and delight our readers.
Q: In The Soulmate Equation you explore the idea of using science to find true love. How did you research the science behind the novel, and what do you hope readers take away from the story?
A: When we were beginning this book, we were both obsessed with the Theranos scandal, and the idea that (1) there are still so many groundbreaking technologies in our future and (2) the hope and power of these breakthroughs can really influence the most powerful people. We started with the technology that could use DNA to help us find our soulmate, and then created the story from there—what would be the most fun premise to play with? The science part was fun, and pretty easy to dream up—Lauren has a PhD in Neuroscience and her husband has his doctorate in Biochemistry. So while the technology in The Soulmate Equation isn’t real (yet!), it was fun to play the thought experiment and ask what we would need to see as investors in order to give our money to this technology? We started from there and built the love story around it.
Q: Your novels often feature diverse characters and storylines. How important is it to you to represent different perspectives and experiences in your writing?
A: Thank you! We try so hard to make this true. We would never tell a cultural identity story—those aren’t ours to tell—but we want our books to look like the world around us. That means we get lots of sensitivity reads and go through several rounds of revisions. And if we make a mistake, we own it and make it right. Everyone deserves a happily ever after and it’s important to us that our readers can imagine getting theirs in a Christina Lauren book.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring romance writers, and how can they break into the industry?
A: Read read read, both in your genre, and outside of it. A writing career is hills and valleys, and the only thing you control when you’re in a valley is the book you write. Also, surround yourself with people whose opinion you trust, and learn to take critical feedback.
Q: Can you discuss how you approach research for your novels, and what challenges did you face in incorporating real-world details?
A: We love research! We always joke that we are suckers for competence, meaning we LOVE characters who are good at what they do. If a character is a scientist, we don’t need to read about every experimental detail, but we need to believe that THEY know every experimental detail. Google is amazing, and we always try to find a couple experts to read through our books to make sure we’re capturing the important details.
Q: What can readers expect from your upcoming projects, and what excites you about the future of your writing career?
A: Our next book, The True Love Experiment comes out May 16th, and after 29 books together it’s a great feeling to be able to say we think it’s our best book yet. That’s what excites us; knowing we have so many different stories to tell, and that Christina Lauren evolves with each one.
Q: What would you tell your younger self, the one who perhaps was nervous about taking the leap into following your dreams?
A: When we look at our books on the shelf, we sometimes can’t believe that this is real. We’d tell our younger selves to keep reading, to fill our hearts and heads with stories, and embrace (and protect) the things that bring us joy. Lots of people look down on fanfiction and romance, but that’s how we found each other! Just keep going and working hard and remember that writing happens one word at a time.
Old Fire House Books will be hosting Christina Lauren for their new novel THE TRUE LOVE EXPERIMENT at Marriot Fort Collins on Friday May 26, 2023 at 6pm MST. You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com and @ChristinaLauren on Instagram or Twitter
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York Times, USA TODAY, and #1 internationally bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Dating You / Hating You, Autoboyography, Love and Other Words, Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon, The Soulmate Equation, Something Wilder, and The True Love Experiment. We sat down with the dynamic duo and they gave us a birds eye view into the mind of a writer. In this case, two minds are better than one. Read on.