Monica’s Musings – Monica Murphy Interviews New Adult Author, Lauren Layne
I’m happy to introduce my first guest at Monica’s Musings, the lovely Lauren Layne! She’s the author of ISN’T SHE LOVELY (Flirt), which is coming out October 28th! Welcome Lauren, to Monica’s Musings! So excited to have you here today!
1. First, tell us a little bit about yourself.
LL: Thanks so much for having me! The best thing about these virtual interviews is that one doesn’t have to get all gussied up, but I just wanted you to know that as a huge fan of yours, I did shower before tackling this interview. Trust me, you should be flattered.
MM:(Awww….*blushes* You are too sweet. And you look extra pretty today!)
LL: Let’s see, about me . . . well, I’ll start with the easy stuff. I’m currently living in the Pacific Northwest, although up until a couple months ago I was living in Manhattan, which is why most of my stories have a certain city vibe about them. No kids, although my dog sometimes feel like one when she decides that a 2am poop sounds nice. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, which is just too cutsie for words, and my hair is very, very frizzy. Also, prematurely gray. So that’s been fun.
MM: (Ugh I feel you, Lauren!)
2. Could you let us know what your new book, ISN’T SHE LOVELY about?
LL: An excuse to talk about my most recent book? Of course! *Flutters eyelashes* ISN’T SHE LOVELY, is a modern My Fair Lady story in which a spoiled Manhattan playboy disguises an outcast film student as his preppy, socialite girlfriend for a college project, only to fall in love with her — but has he fallen for the real her? Or the version he created?
3. It’s obvious in the blurb what inspired the book (Pygmalion, Pretty Woman) but could you give the readers more insight?
LL: You know, I’ve had so many people ask what made me want to write a Pygmalion story, and for the life of me, I can’t remember the exact moment when I decided to take the book in that direction. Usually when I’m planning a new book, I come up with the plot catalyst first, and then develop the right characters for the story. But in this case, it was definitely Stephanie and Ethan that came into my head first.
See, I’d just started reading New Adult, and while I read some really great stuff, there was one common theme that I was a little tired of: the tortured bad boy. I knew right off the bat that I wanted to write about the antithesis of that: the preppy, clean-cut jock. Ethan was born. And since I wanted him to be with someone very different from himself—someone to challenge him—I created Stephanie. But I didn’t want your run-of-the-mill goth girl. I wanted a girl that was hiding behind the dark clothes, who simply needed a reason/excuse to step to step into the light for a bit. And that’s where the Pygmalion / makeover element came from. She trades in her dark eye-makeup for pastels and sundresses, and in the process has to figure out who she really wants to be. Similarly, Ethan has to figure out who he really wants to be WITH.
MM: (And I love those differences in your book – specifically with Ethan! Which leads me to my next question….)
4. I was lucky enough to be able to read ISN’T SHE LOVELY early. I loved how Ethan came off as a bit of a jerk at first, but really he was a nice guy. Not your typical a-hole hero at ALL. Did you create Ethan that way on purpose?
LL: Yes, definitely. As I mentioned above, I was a little tired about all the New Adult dudes that are so chalk full of ISSUES. Ethan has some stuff to work through at home and in his personal life, but at the end of the day I wanted a well-adjusted nice guy who just happens to be a really, REALLY big smart ass.
MM: (I adored him – I think readers will too!)
5. How long have you been writing?
LL: Well I sort of dabbled in it in my early twenties right as I got my first “real job” and pretty quickly realized that something wasn’t quite right, and that maybe writing was my true calling. But I took the easy path and pushed it aside for awhile, hoping that the writing bug would go away, because, you know…writing a book is HARD. But it didn’t go away, and I finally got my act together about five years ago and finished a full manuscript. It didn’t get me an agent, but it taught me that I could write a story from start to finish. I tried again a couple years after that, and signed with Nicole Resciniti at The Seymour Agency. So I guess you could say I started seriously writing five years ago, although it’s only been in the past two years that I decided I wanted to make a career out of it.
6. What made you want to write a New Adult book?
LL: I can’t take any credit, it was one-hundred percent my agent’s idea. I already had contracts for two adult contemporary series under my belt, and sort of assumed that I’d stick with that genre for awhile, and maybe branch into the YA world some day (which I’d still love to do!). She called up one day and asked if I’d heard of the genre. I lied and said yes. Then she said she had some editors looking for NA, and that I might have a good voice for it. So I went out, read some of the big titles out there, and was completely intrigued. From there I wrote three chapters and a synopsis, and sold it to the fabulous Sue Grimshaw at Random House for their Flirt line. So I most definitely stumbled into NA, but so, SO glad to be here.
MM: (Sue is awesome! And I’m glad you’re here in the NA world too.)
7. What do you like about writing New Adult?
LL: I love the first person element. Which is not to say that NA has to be in first person, but it often is, and there’s something very compelling about that. And since I write adult contemporary series at the same time, I like to think that switching between first person in NA and third person in contemporary romance keeps me fresh.
The age of the characters also allows for some great conflict. When I write my adult romance, I’m usually writing about late twenties through mid-thirties characters. By then, you pretty much expect that these people will have the majority of their sh*t figured out. But in New Adult, you’re talking about early twenties characters who are still working through who they are. You can get away with giving them some issues and hang-ups, that if you applied to older protagonists, you’d probably be thinking “get over it already.”
8. Do you ever draw from your own experience when you were a ‘new adult’ to add to your stories? I know I have…
LL: You know, I don’t know that I have, at least as far as the romantic relationships go. It comes along with that pesky “marriage to the high school sweetheart.” We started dating in high school, and got married when we were twenty-three and fresh out of college. So I can’t honestly say that my early-twenties dating experience was typical. We were just sort of together, you know? And I know that sounds dull, but the truth is, we were and are really, REALLY happy, and I was lucky enough to not have to waddle through too many trolls or too much angst on the love-front. (Maybe that’s why I want to write the YA stuff some day; I know ALL about what it’s like to fall in love in high school, and I absolutely believe that it can be a forever type of love!)
But that being said, I can definitely relate to a lot of the doubt and frustration about “self” that comes about at that period in our lives. When you’re no longer able to define yourself simply as a kid, or as a student. You THINK you’re on the cusp of real life and you’re sort of braced for it, but the truth is you’re already IN real life, and I think waking up to that fact is what New Adult is all about.
9. Do you have any other books published? Tell us about them.
LL: I do! The first book in my Stiletto series (AFTER THE KISS) debuted in August of 2013 and the next one is out on December 7th. It’s about a trio of Manhattan women who work for a Glamour / Cosmopolitan type magazine in the Love & Relationships department. And in the words of the fantastic copywriters at Random House, they’d do anything for a story . . . except fall in love. As you can imagine, it’s been so fun to take relationship “experts” and show them just how little they know about love when it comes to their own life.
10. Are you working on anything currently? And what’s coming out next?
LL: Well, in addition to the Stiletto series mentioned above (the second book’s out in December, the third in March 2014), I have another series in progress with Grand Central Publishing. It’s Seattle-based and it’s about two sisters who have a very clear idea of man they’re supposed to be with. They are, of course, completely wrong. And I LOVE the heroes in these books. The first one features a modern Mr. Darcy type hero (swoon), and the second is about a sexy entrepreneur who moves back home to win over his mortal enemy, who also happens to be the woman he’s loved since he was a kid. (swoon again).
MM: (It all sounds delicious – you’re a busy lady!)
About the Author:
Monica Murphy is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series. She writes new adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. She also writes romance as Karen Erickson. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills below Yosemite.Follow her on her website | Twitter | Facebook
More about Lauren & her release ISN’T SHE LOVELY:
Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she started her writing career and now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian on the west coast. Visit her on her website
About the book:
The rules are clear—until they’re broken. Lauren Layne puts a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet.
“Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?”
Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she’s pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn’t exactly Ethan Price’s type, either. He’s probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund . . . or does he?
As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie’s a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan’s brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.
But when Stephanie steps into Ethan’s privileged world, the “acting” begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating them. And Stephanie faces a question she’s too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?