Look, if you know me, you’ve heard me talking about Lauren Morrill. She writes my favorite Young Adult rom-coms, spinning stories that are packed full of swoons, sighs, and kissing. From offbeat romances on doomed cruise ships to falling for fame, her novels are always as surprising as the are beautifully written.
And I’m just so thrilled to share this guest post from Lauren, as well as reveal the cover to her latest, BETTER THAN THE BEST PLAN.
Due out with FSG in June of 2019, it’s about a teen girl “who enters foster care for what she thinks is the first time, only to find out she has been down this path before.” And I cannot wait.
Thanks so much, Eric, for having me here and hosting the cover reveal for my fifth YA novel, Better Than the Best Plan! I’m so so excited to finally be showing it off, because holy cannoli do I love it. If you think I haven’t already ordered several pairs of heart-shaped sunglasses, you’re nuts. The designer did an amazing job capturing the joy and possibility in the book (and my favorite scene I’ve ever written – set at one of those sketchy parking lot traveling carnivals – is actually reflected in her sunglasses!).
This book means a lot to me, both because it’s a story about a girl struggling with her place in the world while also falling in love, but also because I was in a really strange place when I was writing.
It was back January 2016 (you know, 11 lifetimes ago), and I felt like I was standing at a career crossroads. I was preparing to launch a book that felt like it was going to disappear in the market (it did). I didn’t really know what I was going to write next. I’d also had a baby in late 2014, and had spent the last year being a full-time mom (to my simultaneous delight and exhaustion). As I was coming out of that new-mom haze, I was starting to realize that I had let my publishing career drift away from me.
I was in quite a state. My husband, trying his best to figure out a way to fix things, took two simultaneous strategies. The first? Tough love. “Lauren,” he said, “I know things aren’t going the way you hoped they would. But don’t ever forget that you’ve published four books. No matter what happens, no one can ever take that away from you. That is yours.”
And then he threw in a little bribery, ordering me to buy those Hamilton tickets I had my eye on, especially since flights and hotels were so cheap (New York? Not a major tourist destination in mid-January). And so, in the spirit of “treat yo self,” I did just that. If I couldn’t fix my career, I could at least distract myself with some top-shelf Broadway entertainment.
My agent, upon hearing that I’d be visiting New York, asked if he could set up a meeting for me. He knew an editor who was looking for an author to add to her list who specialized in light, happy ending rom coms, and he thought I might be the perfect fit. Was I interested?
And that’s how I found myself sitting across from Joy Peskin, the editorial director at Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers in the historic Flatiron Building. We chatted about my past work and state of the market, and I pitched her what I was working on and an idea I had for a new book. We clicked immediately, and she sent me off with instructions to enjoy the hell out of Hamilton and send her the first 50 pages of my new idea.
I did both.
And three months later, I had a new book deal with a dream editor working on a project I’d had sitting in my brain since 2012. I wanted to write about a girl who was also at a crossroads, a girl who was finding herself staring at a life she could have had, if things had turned out very differently in her. And of course, there’s a cute, interesting boy next door.
And kissing. Always kissing.
This book feels like a fresh start for me, partly because I’m with a new publisher, and partly because it’ll have been almost 3 years since my last book. It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to still get to do this job after 5 books. I was joking with an author friend recently that my career strategy at this point is, after getting my foot in the door, is to basically cling to the door frame with both hands and my teeth. I’m still writing. I’m still publishing. I’m still finding readers. To be an author these days requires dogged determination and a healthy dose of blind optimism.
Some Hamilton tickets and a really great agent help, too.
And now, the cover!