Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Emma: So this was kind of a weird one for me — back in 2017, I tweeted a joke about how there should be a story about two social media managers from brands warring on Twitter falling in love without realizing that they’re duking it out on social media. I had this whole kind of nonsense thread about it, and then I went to go see a show, and when I came back it had kind of blown up on Book Twitter. Everyone was saying someone should write it, so I called “Twitter dibs” (is that a thing?? I’m glad it worked) and started writing it myself!
What character do you most relate to and why?
I think the character who is most like me in the life stage sense is probably Taffy, the Hello Kitty-loving millennial social media manager who gets a few mentions in the book. But there’s a lot of me that made its way into Jack and Pepper — I think Jack’s goofiness and occasional awkwardness is definitely me when I’m out with my friends, and Pepper’s ruthless drive is more me when it comes to work. In adulthood I’ve gotten a LOT better at separating the two.
Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
I know at least for me, I love being able to connect to characters and then kind of live through them — the good and the bad of them. There’s a lot to be said in the whole “do characters have to be likeable?” debate, and I think every author has their own thoughts on it, but I’ve found that focusing more on the relatability that matters more to readers. In real life, people with good intentions mess up and make mistakes, and can take measures to come back from them. I think it’s both comforting and inspiring to be able to read about it happening to characters you can relate to, because it helps put your own problems and messes in perspective, and helps give you the tools to solve them yourself.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Tweet Cute is a story about two classmates who are already at odds: goofball and secret coding whiz Jack, whose family owns a beloved deli in Manhattan, and overachiever and secret baking expert Pepper, whose family owns the rapidly expanding, massive Big League Burger franchise. After Big League Burger seems to steal an iconic grilled cheese recipe from Jack’s deli, the two teens end up tweeting for the brands in what ends up turning into a viral Twitter war. But even though they’re starting to get along in real life, Pepper and Jack don’t realize that they’re warring on Twitter — or that they’re also falling for each other on an anonymous chat app that Jack built.
What you can expect: Liberal use of the enemies-to-romance and secret identity tropes; more descriptions of grilled cheeses and baked goods than your body will ever be able to prepare for; memes, memes, memes, and more memes.
What’s next for you in the book world?
Hopefully a lot more young adult fiction! There are some fun things in the works.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
Without a doubt Rainbow Rowell, and that’s been the case for years. I read Fangirl and as someone who’s been writing fic since pretty much age eight, it stuck to a place so deep in my dweeby heart that it’s basically a part of me now. I also love seeing that someone managed to break into literary fiction, young adult contemporary AND fantasy, and even gets to write for Marvel. That’s my goal for my career as an author — to be able to cross genres and write for multiple audiences. (Plus I have to put some kind of energy about eventually working on a Marvel project into the world — I’m painfully, prolifically obsessed!)