Saturday, February 23, 2013

Q&A and Giveaway: Beautiful Bastard authors Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs

left: Lauren Billings; right: Christina Hobbs
Last week I reviewed Beautiful Bastard, the new Fifty Shades-esque novel from author Christina Lauren. The pen name Christina Lauren is actually a combination of two writers: Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs. I was able to interview them over email regarding Beautiful Bastard, some of their favorite authors, and their plans for future books.

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.

Christina Lauren is your pen name, but there are actually two of you. Do you each write 50% of the novel, or how does it work? Was there ever an idea that one of you wanted to include in the book but the other didn't, and if so, how did you resolve it?

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!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway will end on Saturday, March 2nd at 11:59pm EST. Winners will be contacted on Sunday, March 3rd, and have 24 hours to respond to my email; if one or both do not respond, alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Looks like a very interesting read! Hope I win. :-)

    Also check out our book reviews at

  2. The most recent book was, obviously, Fifity Shades...I typically stay away from erotica because of the overly-obstentatious sex scenes. I like it in moderation, but don't need it on every other page.

    1. I think you would like this book, then. It's also a lot more well written than 50.

    2. If its written better than 50 Shades I'll definitely need to give it a go.

  3. The most recent 'erotica' book I've read is Tiffany Reisz's The Prince. Loved it and can't wait for the next 'Original Sinners' book.

    1. I think I may have heard of that one, or possibly even have it on my Kindle, lol. I have a bunch of e-books waiting to be read.

    2. I definitely recommend it. The best/funniest way I've heard it described is 'what 50 shades wishes it could grow up to be'.

      I know how that is, so many books and so little time :)

    3. For sure ... I have two piles of books right now (one from PR companies/authors, one of library books and others I've been wanting to read) and then I have my NetGalley and e-books as well.

  4. I can't think of any I've read recently. I did read this when it was a fanfic though.

    1. It should be interesting to see how much it has changed, then!

  5. Most recent was The Siren....... Loved it!

  6. The most recent one I read was Bared to you.

    1. That one was good - I reviewed that a while back, I think, or the 1st book in the series. I know the 3rd one is coming out this year too.

  7. I don't usually read erotica -- I read "The Story of O" and "The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty" in college, but I didn't really like them much. The "smuttiest" stuff I usually read is a bodice-ripping historical romance. Guess I'm just an old prude. Trying to branch out, though, and read something new every once in a while.

    1. I never did before Fifty Shades of Grey, and now I find myself picking the genre up now and again when people recommend some to me. I got this one as a NetGalley and then another friend (book blogger) raved about it, so I moved it to the top of my "Kindle queue" to read :).

      I think you might like this one because it's more of a story. It definitely has a ton of (really hot, actually) sex scenes in it but the story is important too - whereas 50 Shades was more about the sex.

  8. The most recent erotica I have read is the Club Destiny Series by Nicole Edwards. Love it!



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