|left: Lauren Billings; right: Christina Hobbs|
Beautiful Bastard started out as Twilight fan fiction. The published version, however, only has about 20% of the original story, titled The Office. What parts of The Office did you change, and why?
The ending is mostly new, and the rest of the book has been extensively edited for both content and flow. We knew there was interest in getting the book out there, but we didn’t want to simply put out the same version that had been available for free for nine months. So, we cleaned it up, changed some of the details and context, and gave them an entirely new ending. Much of what is different is that the second half of The Office has been cut for this new ending.
It worked slightly differently for BEAUTIFUL BASTARD because we were starting with a story that Christina had written. Initially, Lo cut, edited, and reworked the story. Then Christina revised from there. But our usual “process” is that we outline together and then split up who will write which scenes. The scenes may correspond to chapters, or they may not, but we usually alternate. Once we’ve drafted a little, we swap, edit, smooth for voice, and then continue drafting. The most fun aspect of it is feeling like we’re writing a book just for each other, so it gives us a little freedom to indulge what we love most, which is romance.
What are your thoughts on the whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, and do you anticipate it being a trend long-term?
We think every trend has its time. Right now, people are having fun reading smut. Maybe eventually they’ll look to something else. For now, everyone wants to be the next EL James, but it’s unlikely that anyone will be, because what she has done is a true phenomenon. And even though it’s hard to imagine that anyone will soon see that magnitude of success, we’ll all do better because of the market her books have created. The honest truth is that every erotica author out there now, including us, has benefitted from the mainstream obsession with Fifty Shades.
What are some of your favorite books and authors that you've read recently? (or, some of your all-time favorites?)
Lo: All time favorites would be Jane Eyre, Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True, and Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere. Recently: Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road, and Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.
Christina: Favorite book of all time is probably The Sky is Everywhere. Also Little Women, Warm Bodies (Isaac Marion), Shatter Me (Tahereh Mafi), Forbidden (Tabitha Suzuma), Angelfall (Susan Ee), and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (Rachel Cohn and David Levithan).
The sequel to Beautiful Bastard, titled Beautiful Stranger, will be released in May, but focuses on a different couple - Chloe's friend Sara and a new character, Max - with Chloe and Bennett making only short appearances. What made you decide to do that rather than write another book focused mostly on Chloe/Bennett, and do you have any plans to do another Chloe/Bennett novel in the future?
We felt like Chloe and Bennett’s story of falling in love had been completed at the end of BEAUTIFUL BASTARD, though in no way do we think their happily-ever-after is a smooth road (haha), and would love to write more of them if we had (1) interest from readers and (2) a story that could stand alone and pull the readers back in. We’ve toyed recently with the idea of writing a novella.
And honestly, we think readers may love Sara/Max just as much (GASP! Crazy, I know, but everyone who has read STRANGER is smitten).
Thanks to Lauren and Christina, as well as Gallery Books, for the interview!
I also have two copies of Beautiful Bastard to give away to my readers, courtesy of Gallery Books!
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