Authors Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young Quiz Each Other on Their Favorite Romance Tropes, Book Recs and More!

Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young

[Note from Frolic: Today, we welcome authors Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young to the site. They are grilling each other on all things romancelandia!]

Sam asks Kristen…

1. Okay, Kristen, what’s your favorite romance trope? I’m curious to see if ours match…

Hmm…I’m guessing it just might. I am a total sucker for enemies-to-lovers or, at the very least a, “I don’t want to be attracted to you but I SO am!” set up. I just love the push pull of that type of attraction because the payoff is so good when they finally let their guard down and go for it.

2. Should I dare to ask… What were the perks and challenges of writing with yours truly? You can be honest, I promise. Just don’t tell anyone about my outlandish demands and diva behavior…

Lol. Oh, man, sooo many demands (not even, a little). We’ve laughed about this before but I think the beginning, when we were both hesitant and trying to find out co-writing legs is the only…I’m not going to call it a challenge, more like learning curve I can think of. If you remember, we went through a couple of different opening chapters/concepts before we really got comfortable with each other and then it took off.

Perks? So many. We had each other’s back, and could quickly brainstorm and hammer out any stumbling blocks or plot points. And you taught me to outline! (I hate outlining and resist it like a three year old at bedtime.) I love the way you go all in when it comes to character emotions, and it was fun to be along for the ride while you wrote.

3. As a fan of all your books, no matter the genre, I’m curious to know what do you enjoy most about writing contemporary romance and most about writing fantasy/paranormal romance?

For me, contemporary romance is almost always character driven first. I love that I can delve deeply into the character’s emotions and motivations. Paranormal/fantasy, on the other hand, is still character heavy but the external plot often drives the narrative there, which is its own challenge.

4. Despite my now out of control tbr pile I am always looking for book recommendations – what was the last book you read and adored?

You mean aside from War of Hearts? 😀 I think I’ve told you before, but when I’m in the thick of writing, I like to de-stress with stories far removed from what I’m working on. Which means I’ve been gravitating toward sci-fi, paranormal, and historicals. I recently enjoyed Bane, which is book 2 of a sci-fi series by Bex McLynn. She writes great heroes, combined with excellent world building. And then I read Royally Yours by Emma Chase, which is a historical (1950s) lonely queen finds love story. I always love Emma’s books because she goes all in when it comes to emotion and heat.

5. You know how much I love Rhys from Outmatched and as you’re the driving force behind his voice, I’m curious to know what you think are the characteristics that make up a great book boyfriend?

Ah, Rhys, the big bruiser who claims he’s a tough guy but is really a marshmallow on the inside. He was so much fun to write. I think what I love about heroes is that I get to sort through their layers and expose the heart of them. A hero’s heart is the most important part of him. Every great book boyfriend I have written or read about gives his heart completely to his love. They can be grumpy or funny, reserved or charming, but they have to treat their love with respect, love them for who they are, and know that this is the most important person in their life. If a hero does that, I’ll melt for them every time. ☺

Kristen asks Sam…

1. All right, so do our favorite tropes line up? Or do you have a different one? And if they’re the same, what’s another trope you love? (Because book lovers always have more than one)

Our favorite tropes do line-up, lol. Unsurprising. I’m a huge fan of enemies-to-lovers too and for the same reason you are. Another trope I love is kind of old school — I love a marriage of convenience. One of my absolute favorite books of all time is Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas where the heroine makes a deal to marry the villain from the previous book in the series, in order to protect her life and her inheritance. 

2. Same question to you: What were the perks and challenges of writing with me? And I KNOW I have quirks. Lol. I’m fairly certain I warned you (a lot) going in. ☺

I totally agree with you that the beginning was a learning curve as we’d never co-written before. It wasn’t difficult because it was too fun to be challenging, but yeah, we went through a few false starts before we discovered Rhys and Parker and their amazing chemistry. As for perks, I ditto your answer and add that it was exciting for me, as a fan of your writing, to be in the midst of your thought process. You’re so sharp and bring characters to life in a way that’s truly enjoyable to see play out. And that was the best part for me—waiting on that next chapter because although we outlined, I still didn’t know exactly what would happen or what the characters would say, and you made me laugh so much. Rhys is hilarious!

3. What do you enjoy most about writing contemporary romance and most about writing fantasy/paranormal romance? But more importantly, what do you have planned in the future?

No wonder we wrote together; our answers are pretty much the same to this question lol. Contemporary romance is all about the characters and being able to get my teeth stuck into an emotional journey for them. I love the world-building element to fantasy/paranormal romance and how there are just no limits to your imagination in those genres. Right now I’m working on two novels, one in each of these genres. A contemporary romance titled Much Ado About You (release date still to be announced via Berkley). It’s about a thirty-something heroine who, disappointed with her life in Chicago, takes her savings, rents a bookstore in England as a vacation, and falls not only for the villagers but for a very sexy and likeable local farmer. I’m also writing Kiss of Vengeance which is the second standalone novel in my adult paranormal romance series written under my pen name S. Young.

4. Have you discovered a book that surprised you? As in you didn’t think the trope or set up would work for you but ended up loving it? Or maybe a hidden gem that no one is talking about but you stumbled upon—I’m always looking for those!

Well this book was a massive hit and rightly so, but when it released, I really didn’t think the trope would work for me. It was Bully by Penelope Douglas. I thought, ‘there’s no way I can love a hero who bullies the heroine’. This was enemies-to-lovers on a whole other level! But it is so much more complicated than that and I was WRONG. This is one of my favorite books and Penelope Douglas is one of my favorite writers. In fact, her Devils Night series, which is darker than Bully, is one of my top ten favorites of all time. Penelope is a master at walking the tightrope between love and hate, especially with her heroes. They are complex, flawed, beautifully-drawn characters. I didn’t expect to like this darker enemies-to-lovers trope but Penelope made me love it.

5. When starting Outmatched, I think the first thing we immediately agreed upon was that you’d write the heroine and I’d write the hero. I still maintain that you had the tougher job, as readers are historically harder on the heroine than the hero. I love your quirky yet strong heroines. They’re always so full of life. What do you love about writing heroines? And how do you go about creating them?

I love writing heroines that readers can relate to. Whether she has self-esteem issues, or family issues, or career issues, a heroine should be someone a reader feels kinship with. Like she’s a friend. To do that I have to make her three-dimensional—give her quirks, foibles, hobbies, and friends and family who are just as colorful and realistic. I love the character-building process. I always know where I want her journey to start and where I want it to end before I begin writing, but all those minor details that make her feel more real usually evolve over the course of the book.

About the Authors:

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author from Stirlingshire, Scotland. She’s been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Author and Best Romance 2012 for her international bestselling novel ON DUBLIN STREET, Best Romance 2014 for BEFORE JAMAICA LANE, and Best Romance 2015 for HERO. ON DUBLIN STREET is Samantha’s first adult contemporary romance series and has sold in thirty countries.

Outmatched by Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young, out now!

What happens when a boxer finds chemistry with a geek?

Parker Brown can’t believe she needs to hire a fake boyfriend. When she landed her dream job in renewable energy, she thought she’d be entering a world at the forefront of progressive thinking. But the head boss prefers to promote employees who are “settled.” Thankfully, she’s found the perfect candidate, a fellow intellectual looking for some quick cash. What Parker gets is his protective big brother–Rhys Morgan. The tall, muscled ex-boxer with a foul mouth shows up just as her boss does, and now she’s stuck with the manipulative jerk.

Responsibility weighs heavily on Rhys. Now permanently out of the ring, he’s trying to hold together his late father’s gym and keep his younger brother, Dean, on the straight and narrow. To save Dean from himself, Rhys takes his place, ready to give this society girl a piece of his mind. Instead, he finds an opportunity. Even though they can hardly stand each other, posing as Parker’s boyfriend is a win-win deal. She gets to keep her job, and he’ll charm her star-struck boss into sponsoring his gym.

Problem is, they can barely keep their hands off each other. And what started as an easy deal isn’t so easy anymore. Because what future can a rough ex-boxer, afraid to open his heart, and a polished society geek, who has sworn off real relationships, possibly have?

They say opposites attract. These opposites are about to combust on impact.


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