Rachel here with Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate (releasing on September 15th by Berkley). And let me tell you—you are going to want to pre-order this binge-worthy sex-positive raunch-com! If you’ve yet to be convinced, get to know Rosie with a fun game of Never Have I Ever, just like the main characters played in her debut novel.
Never have I ever… written about my favorite trope.
What are your favorite tropes? Were they featured in The Roommate?
Ahh I have so many. I get excited about any form of opposites attract because of the potential for tension of all varieties.
My number one auto-buy is enemies to lovers but ideally I need them to REALLY hate each other. I can enjoy a misunderstanding premise, but I think we should call that annoyance to love instead. When I talk about E2L, I think about C.S. Pact’s Captive Prince series where the hero literally murdered the love interest’s brother or Buffy and Spike from BtVS where they’re engineered to extinguish one another (yes, I know this is a problematic fave. I am trash for a redemption arc.)
Some of my other favorites are lessons in seduction, which I some times affectionately refer to as a ‘sex framework,’ as well as the classic ‘there’s only one bed.’
Josh and Clara definitely fulfill opposites attract, though they’re much more ‘unlikely friends to lovers’ than enemies. Clara is an uptight, Connecticut blue-blood with a doctorate in art history and a penchant for list making and lamination (paper not bread) while Josh is a cinnamon roll pleasure professional with a life philosophy that basically amounts to “do whatever feels good.”
The Roommate is my take on updating the lessons in seduction trope—which we’ve most frequently seen in Historicals between a rake and a bluestocking—for modern love. In my version, it’s less about Josh teaching Clara and more about him encouraging her that her pleasure matters and then her taking charge of her own journey and extending her “education” into a platform that empowers others at scale.
Since they’re roommates, it was harder to work in there’s only one bed, but I managed to make do with my own spin on this trope as well, one I hope readers can similarly enjoy enough that it becomes a genre staple with time—I am humbled to introduce, there’s only one shower.
Never have I ever… read a book in a single day.
What was the last book you binge-read?
Like a lot of others I know, I’ve been really struggling to read books during the pandemic. I think anxiety has shot my attention span even further to hell, so that even books I’m really enjoying are harder to devour in one sitting the way I normally would have this time last year.
I have been going through a lot of fanfic, where I can go in with the security that I already like the characters and there’s less world-building. It’s sort of instant gratification in that way and I find a lot of comfort in reading about the same pairing over and over.
I’m also learning the art of taking my time with a story and savoring it in a different way. I did that recently with Halley Sutton’s debut L.A. noir thriller The Lady Upstairs which I cannot recommend highly enough. The craft of the novel is incredible and the story about female con-artists bringing down Hollywood scum is *chef’s kiss.*
I’ve also turned to well-loved authors like Talia Hibbert and Olivia Dade over the last few months who I know weave humor and heat into their romances in a way that’s like cat-nip to me.
What genres are your favorite to binge, and what makes them binge-worthy?
Hands down, romance. 95% of everything I read is romance and I’ve been that way my entire life. There’s so much variety within romance subgenres: mystery, historical, paranormal, SFF. I can always find something to fit my mood so I never see a reason to stray. The only thing I regularly read outside of the romance genre is poetry.
When I think about binge-worthy books, I envision this very specific feeling—that I imagine is a cocktail of voice, sexual tension, and pacing—I get where I’m almost drunk on the text. I’m so sucked in that I can’t make rational decisions. I’ll stay up recklessly late, call in sick to work, cancel a date. I feel myself almost sinking into the world of the story and I race to finish, riding the high, because I must (reluctantly) resume my real life.
Never have I ever… had a pet.
Do you have any pets?
I do not. I’m not convinced animals like me. I assume they can smell my fear.
I did have a few dogs growing up. I liked them well-enough but I never really formed the kind of bond you see in the movies where the faithful hound scales mountains to return to his owner. I feel like this section is gonna make me sound like a monster. Other people’s pets are very cute and I love seeing pictures of them and/or petting them with permission!
Never have I ever… lived with a random person for a roommate.
Any fun college roommate stories?
Oh boy. So, my freshman year roommate, as selected randomly by our university, introduced herself to me by saying she hated both sunlight and laughing. A few weeks later, she informed me that she was in fact a vampire and would be reversing her sleep schedule so she could join her fellow vampires in an online forum from dusk until dawn. She requested I keep my day time noises to a minimum and promised, quite sinisterly, not to watch me sleep. I somehow survived the year and was able to move in with a friend for the remainder of my collegiate experience.
Any apartment shares with random people?
I lived in NYC for five years in my early twenties so the answer to this is of course yes. The best random person was the guy who baked lemon olive oil cakes for us to share like once a week and once cleaned my vomit out of the shower after I ran head-first into one too many shots of tequila. I truly didn’t deserve him, though he did make me watch a few Woody Allen movies.
Never have I ever… been on a bad date.
We’d love to hear the dish on a horrible date, if it’s funny and not too personal, of course.
Hahaha. Okay, sorry. Yes, I have been on many bad dates. I would like to go on record that most of them were not my fault but I will tell you about one that I definitely ruined.
This also harkens back to my time in NYC, which anyone will tell you is an especially hellish dating scene.
I’d been slogging through the dating apps for a few months when a friend—who of course herself was in a happy long-term relationship—suggested that I needed to build some efficiency into my interactions if I wanted to find love any time soon. She recommended I “double up” on first dates, going on to explain that I should schedule an early date at 6pm and a later date at 9pm that same evening. This strategy also included putting the more promising candidate in the second spot, so I could conceivably spend as much time as I wanted with that person, whereas the first appointment would have a set end-time to ensure I could hoof it to the second bar on schedule.
Long story short, I tried this approach and it went as well as you might expect. The first date was with a guy who was funny but completely wrong for me and we both knew it. All the same, he generously bought me two very strong vodka sodas before we parted ways forever—him to return to Staten Island, me to scarf down a granola bar on my way to my second date of the evening. Bachelor number two turned out to be very attractive and engaging, unfortunately at that point I was tipsy on my way to drunk and the same could not be said for me. Blessedly, time has blurred the details of the rest of the evening but that guy definitely never called me again. The moral of the story? Maybe don’t double up on dates, or if you do, stick to soda.
Never have I ever… met a movie star.
Josh Darling is quite the popular porn star, not that I’m asking if you’ve met any porn stars lol, just if you’ve met any celebrities in your lifetime? And if so, how did that go?
I have actually encountered a fair amount of celebrities and one notable porn star as well.
In terms of celebrities, my preference would be to never speak to one ever, because 1) super hot people make me extremely nervous and 2) I like to preserve the ideas I have of them in my head.
So, my celebrity highlights are interactions where I could see the person well without actually having to make sounds at them. I had brunch next to Ted Danson on a random Tuesday. He is just as dreamy in person as you would hope. I also, through luck and a friend of a friend, ended up staying in the beach house next to Tom Hanks for a few nights over a decade ago. He waved at me from his porch with grilling tongs. Delightful.
In terms of adult performers, I was extremely fortunate to have Lane Rogers review THE ROOMMATE as a subject matter expert and sensitivity reader. He could not have been more gracious or charming and I had so much fun telling my boyfriend that he had slid into my DMs (to chat in a very professional manner but I left out that pesky detail for a few hours. Gotta keep them on their toes!).
Who’s a celebrity you’d love to meet one day?
A big exception to my no meeting celebs rule is Samin Nostrat who’s a food writer and chef. She seems like sunshine personified while also being so kind and value-oriented and funny. I asked my publisher if we could send her a copy of The Roommate not because I think she’d particularly enjoy it but because her exceptional cook book Salt Fat Acid Heat changed my life and I’ve given copies to seriously ten different people. It felt like the least I could do was try to pay her back with my own art. My dream is that it could bring her joy.
Never have I ever… done something I never thought I’d do.
Clara moves across the country on a whim, ventures into uncharted sexual territory, etc. Do you have any hobbies/activities, bucket list items that you did but never really thought you’d do?
I’m honestly shocked any time I do anything vaguely outside my comfort zone. Like Clara, I’m a creature who prefers consistency and control. Publishing this book absolutely qualifies as something I never thought I’d do. Sharing this work is the biggest exercise in vulnerability I’ve ever undertaken. I still wake up most days and ask myself how exactly I let it happen, but I suppose I’ve found I prefer diving rather than wading into change.
The other recent life-altering decision I made was to move to London last year. I’d always dreamed of working and living abroad but the opportunity came at us out of the blue and we had to make the choice to uproot our entire lives in a matter of days. People kept saying, “This is a once in a lifetime chance. You have to do it.” but there’s a big difference between the dream of spontaneously moving to another country and the reality of executing it. That said, we survived and I am so grateful we made the leap of faith. Even though the pandemic has impacted some of our time here in ways we never could have expected, I love London and hope to stay as long as I can.
Never have I ever.. played Never Have I Ever.
Before this interview, have you played this game (with alcoholic beverages involved)?
Definitely. I unabashedly love drinking games and there’s quite a few that make appearances in The Roommate as homage to my misspent youth. My favorite is flip cup. I am a very good flipper.
About the Author:
Rosie Danan’s debut novel, THE ROOMMATE (previously Never Have I Ever), won the 2019 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® for Best Contemporary Romance. The rom-com has been optioned for film, and a sequel THE INTIMACY EXPERIMENT is forthcoming in April 2021.
After participating in the writing mentorship program Pitch Wars as a 2018 mentee, she was thrilled to rejoin the organization as a 2019 and 2020 mentor.
When not writing, Rosie enjoys jogging slowly to fast music, petting other people’s dogs, and competing against herself in rounds of Chopped using the miscellaneous ingredients occupying her fridge.
As an American expat currently living in London, she’s developed an incurable fondness for electric kettles.
The Roommate by Rosie Danan, out September 15!
Do your own dishes
Knock before entering the bathroom
Never look up your roommate online
The Wheatons are infamous among the east coast elite for their lack of impulse control, except for their daughter Clara. She’s the consummate socialite: over-achieving, well-mannered, predictable. But every Wheaton has their weakness. When Clara’s childhood crush invites her to move cross-country, the offer is too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true.
After a bait-and-switch, Clara finds herself sharing a lease with a charming stranger. Josh might be a bit too perceptive—not to mention handsome—for comfort, but there’s a good chance he and Clara could have survived sharing a summer sublet if she hadn’t looked him up on the Internet…
Once she learns how Josh has made a name for himself, Clara realizes living with him might make her the Wheaton’s most scandalous story yet. His professional prowess inspires her to take tackling the stigma against female desire into her own hands. They may not agree on much, but Josh and Clara both believe women deserve better sex. What they decide to do about it will change both of their lives, and if they’re lucky, they’ll help everyone else get lucky too.