Marie Interviews the AMAZING Christina Lauren—and SQUEES with Fan Girl GLEE!
Today I’m THRILLED to welcome my favorite author(s), Christina Lauren, to the blog! Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, who co-write the Beautiful Bastard and Wild Things Series, have turned me into a shameless fan girl over their books. I LOVE THEM! I read them on day one, even when I’m supposed to be writing my own books. I was on a plane last year reading Beautiful Secret, and was laughing so hard that by the time we landed, I had everyone around me on the Christina Lauren bandwagon. Anyway, enough already with the fan-girling. Let’s get down to business here! The first thing I want to know, as someone who would murder a co-writer, is HOW your two brains come together to create these awesome, funny, touching, sexy books. Do tell!
CL: Ahh! This is so exciting for us. We are huge Marie fangirls, and I even remember the first time you tweeted us about Beautiful Secret and I just stared, slack-jawed at my phone for a few minutes. It was one of those awesome WE ARE REAL AUTHORS moments whose impact I keep expecting to diminish and they just don’t, know what I mean?
Marie: Awww, shucks, STAWP it. I can’t wait to meet you two in person one of these days so we can go all fan-girl on each other. I think there might be tongue kissing… Ahem, now about that co-writing gig. HOW do you DO IT???
CL: So, this is Lo answering here. Christina and I met in 2009; at the time we were both writing fanfiction. Almost immediately we knew we wanted to write a book together. We went through the whole process as coauthors–from drafting our first novel, querying, rejections, revisions, more querying, submission, etc. Our first book came out in 2013. Our sixth book also came out in 2013. Once we sold a manuscript it was, to say the least, a bit like drinking from the fire hose. But a fire hose of AWESOME.
Anyway, all this to say that it’s hard for us to imagine doing it solo. Writing can be an isolating occupation; even with the community on the internet, you can get very inward-focused on the story, and eventually drive yourself crazy needing, at varying stages, distance or validation. At least, that’s how we imagine it might be. Having a coauthor is really great for that.
Essentially what we do is outline together in person, decide who is writing what (whether it’s a character if we have alternating POVs, or what scenes we’ll each do) and then we draft by ourselves, but in shared documents. We talk all the time, compile our sections as they’re completed, revise, revise, and then revise some more. We both have our hands in the whole thing, the whole time.
Marie: As a lone wolf writer, that process is fascinating to me. Not only that you both contribute, but somehow manage to produce a book that has one unified voice. I think, perhaps, you’re the poster girls for co-writing. No one does it better! So when you were writing Bennett and Chloe’s story in Beautiful Bastard, did you suspect you might be on to something or was the success of that book/series a complete surprise to you?
CL: The first book in the series, Beautiful Bastard, was actually based on a fic that Christina wrote, called The Office, which had been wildly successful in the online world. It was only up for about 9 months in 2009 before Christina took it down, but it racked up over 2 million unique hits, which at the time was unheard of. When Fifty Shades (formerly the online fanfic known as Master of the Universe) published by Vintage in 2012—and sold a bajillion copies—several people were trying capitalize on the success of these online stories and pass The Office off as theirs to sell to publishers. Christina sent it to Lo to rework entirely, with the only goal to post back online to thwart others’ attempts to sell it. But when we finished rewriting it, it was only about 20 percent similar to the online version and, after discussion with our agent, we decided to send it out to editors. It sold in just about a day to Adam Wilson at Gallery Books, in a preempt.
All this is to say that when BB sold, we thought that the trend of these online stories doing well as books had sort of passed, and it was just a fun little thing to put out there. But when the film rights sold and then it hit the NYT list… we were amazed. So, no, we didn’t know that we were on to something! The series has really expanded past that initial book, and we now have 15 published books together, but we are so grateful for the start we got!!
Marie: That’s an amazing story about Beautiful Bastard’s origins! I had no idea it started out as fan fic. What a ride that story has taken you on. So you’re winding down the Beautiful Series this fall with a book aptly titled Beautiful. What’s next for you guys after that? And are there plans for more of the Wild Seasons books?
CL: After the final book in the Beautiful series (October 4th), we have two standalones coming out in 2017, as well as a new contemporary YA title called Autoboyography in the fall of 2017. We’re also working on a new series with our publisher! We don’t currently have plans for more Wild Seasons, but anyone who loves the characters should keep an eye out for the RWA anthology coming soon…
Marie: Sounds like lots more fun stuff coming soon. I’m ready! And if you need advance readers, you know where to find me! 😉 Thanks so much for being here today, and for your fantastic books. Keep them coming!
Preorder the grand finale in the Beautiful series, fittingly called Beautiful, coming October 4! I love these books sooooo much that I’ll give away three of Christina Lauren’s books to three lucky commenters! You can choose which one you’d like to have, and I’ll gift the ebook copy to you! Winners will be chosen at the end of the week.
Preorder Beautiful today, out on Oct. 4: