Today for #30DaysofRomComs, we have an interview with the awesome Kerry Winfrey, whose novel Love and Other Alien Experiences was recently bought by Feiwel & Friends. Kerry, who did the Year of Rom Coms blog (highly recommend it if you’re looking for something to watch, or just need to pass the time while you’re waiting in line!), came by to talk about her new book, her love of blogging, and how she made the transition from YA reviewer to YA writer!
You started out as a book reviewer for Hello Giggles. Had you always wanted to write your own YA novel? Or did reading all those fantastic books inspire you to give it a try?
I always knew I wanted to write a book, but I didn’t really take writing seriously until I started writing for HelloGiggles. At the time, I read at least one YA book a week for years. This meant I was learning a LOT about what I liked and didn’t like, and what I thought worked and didn’t work. If you want to write a book of your own, I think that reading literally hundreds of books in your chosen genre is incredibly helpful!
Congrats on your new book deal! Love and Other Alien Experiences has had a unique road to bookshelves. Can you talk a little bit about that?
LAOAE was initially published through Paper Lantern Lit’s The Studio as a digital-only book in November of 2015. After it was published, an editor at Feiwel & Friends read it and expressed interest in publishing it in print. I loved my experience working with Paper Lantern Lit (I can’t imagine a better first book experience!), but I’m so excited that the book will now have a chance to reach a larger audience. The best part of it is that now I no longer have to deal with people saying things like, “Oh, an ebook? I thought you wrote a REAL book.” (Eye roll…ebooks are still real books, people!!).
You spent 2015 doing a project called A Year of Romantic Comedies. What inspired it?
While I was working on LAOAE, I missed the immediate feedback I got from blogging, because writing a book can be sort of a lonely experience. Also I’m a goal-obsessed weirdo who loves a project, so I decided to turn my love of romcoms into a blog that would give me a chance to engage with people and learn a lot about the genre while I was writing my own sort-of-romcom. I’ve loved romantic comedies ever since I was a love-obsessed teenager who watched Pretty in Pink on repeat and swooned over Pride and Prejudice. I’ve always had thoughts about what I liked and what makes a good romcom, but it was great to really dive into it over the course of 52 movies. I’m a firm believer that love stories are not just important, but essential. The desire for love is one of the few things that most human beings share, and I hate that a genre celebrating that is so often denigrated. Hopefully the project inspired some people to check out new romcoms or to give the genre a chance.
What was your favorite and least favorite rom coms that you watched?
My favorite, hands down, is You’ve Got Mail. It has a pretty farfetched concept but real emotions. Just like all of Nora Ephron’s movies, it has a lot of sadness mixed in with the happiness. My least favorite was probably The Ugly Truth. The worst romcoms, in general, are the ones where the leads don’t have chemistry or they’re just unlikeable. Unlikeable characters have their place, but it isn’t easy to root for Gerard Butler as a gross, misogynistic tool.
Did A Year of Romantic Comedies have any impact on your writing?
I hope it did! The best love stories feel effortless, but they’re not easy to write (at least for me). I learned a lot about plot, pacing, and tension from watching so many romcoms…those concepts don’t exactly sound sexy, but they’re important in any romcom! Bad romcoms taught me more than good ones. Like, you can’t just show a terrible main character being nice to a small child and assume the audience will then see that he’s a sensitive soul. Okay, so I’m still talking about The Ugly Truth, but ugh did I ever hate that movie.
I’ve seen on Instagram that you’ve gotten to do some good e-book reading while up with your new kiddo. Can you rec anything you’ve read lately and loved?
I’ve been exclusively reading romance novels, and it’s been so fun (and a great escape when I’m especially sleep-deprived and cranky). I recently read and LOVED The Perfect Find by Tia Williams. It’s about a 40 year old woman in the fashion industry who falls for a 22 year old. I also loved Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War. A million people recommended her books to me and they were all right. Right now I’m in the middle of You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane, and it’s perfect for anyone who loves Bridget Jones’s Diary or Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments.
Thanks Kerry! Be sure to check out Kerry’s new book, Love and Other Alien Experiences, which releases in April 2017. And while we’re here, take a gander at her AMAZING new cover!
Kerry Winfrey grew up in Bellville, Ohio, where she spent most of her time reading inappropriate books at the library. Not much has changed. Kerry writes for HelloGiggles and blogs at welcometoladyville.com. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, their son, and their dog, Merlin. You can find her on Twitter @KerryAnn.