Sunday Brunch: A Chat with Authors Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau and Emery Lee

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[Note from Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora got the chance to chat with authors Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau and Emery Lee and ask them a few questions each. Up first, Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau!]

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?

Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau: I grew up just outside of Paris, in the countryside, and I’ve always been in love with the city. I almost moved there several times but it never happened, so I’ve been able to keep it as this aspirational place in my mind, full of beauty and inherently romantic. I’ve long thought about writing a love story set in Paris that would also be a love story with Paris. There are a few YA novels about study abroad trips to Europe, so I liked the idea of my main character, Mia, having a different sense of purpose for going to Paris. I really enjoyed combining the lights of the city with the artistry and beauty of ballet.

What character in this novel do you most relate to and why? 

With every draft, this novel became more and more about chasing your dreams, even the so-called impossible ones. I’m not a dancer but, as I wrote Mia, I could really relate to her dedication and focus. I also really like stories about girls who are not afraid to go after what they want, and who stop at nothing to make it happen. Mia seems sweet on the surface, but deep down she’s an incredibly hard-worker on a mission.

Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?

I think readers relate to characters who are true to themselves, whatever that means for them. It’s so important for novels—especially ones for a younger audience—to feature different kinds of characters, so readers feel seen and embraced. Also, if people connect with a character, they’ll follow them on any adventure.

Please describe the content of your latest read and what can readers expect from it.

I’ve gotten into the habit of reading multiple books at once, so I can’t just pick one!

Among my latest reads:

American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar. I really enjoyed this feminist, sex-positive story about a badass Indian American girl and her first (forbidden) love. There’s art, a lot of Indian culture (and lots of delicious-sounding food) and an interesting exploration of the immigrant experience. 

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano. This was a sharp, witty and well-plotted murder mystery about a divorced mom who is mistaken for a hit woman. In between the dead bodies, there’s a great female friendship and swoon-worthy love interests.

What’s next for you in the bookish world?

I’m looking forward to discovering the foreign editions of Kisses and Croissants. It’s currently being translated into Czech, German, Slovak and Romanian (with hopefully more languages to come). I saw a work-in-progress of the German cover, and it’s gorgeous! I also have another standalone YA romance novel coming out in fall 2022, again with Random House | Delacorte Press. I’m currently revising it and I’m not sure what I can say about it, but it has to do with food, and especially French food. I’m excited to see it out into the world.

Who is your current favorite writer? Why?

That’s a tough question! I don’t think I could name a favorite. I recently discovered Victoria Schwab’s writing—specifically in her latest novel, The Invisible Life of Addie Larue—and I was blown away by the beauty of her prose. I’m looking forward to Nicola Yoon’s new book, Instructions on Dancing, and I’ll read anything by Liane Moriarty and Gillian Flynn. I also love many French authors, especially Delphine de Vigan.

Any writing advice for aspiring writers?  

The advice I often see given is all great: read a lot, take classes, find peers (who have a similar level of experience and write in the same genre) with whom to exchange feedback. 

Trying to find a writing practice that works for you is so important: figure out at what time you write best, where (whether that’s in your home or elsewhere), or if you work better with a detailed outline or just going with the flow. Of course your process will change over time, but getting to understand what helps you move forward feels really good.

I’ve also come to believe that perseverance is the most important element in becoming a published author. There are no shortcuts when it comes to writing a novel: making it great takes a lot of dedication, time, and effort. And then the process of finding an agent, and a publisher, is months or even years in the making. This is a long journey, with many detours along the way so, if that’s what you want, stick to it!

Up next, Emery Lee!
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel? 

Emery Lee: It was a combination between a couple of my favorite romcoms at the time and road trip I took with my best friend. We stopped in Colorado, and she had an almost-meet cute with a cute guy at an ice cream shop, and I immediately thought that it would be so fun to write about a character who turned his almost run-ins with hot guys into a meet cute romances, so that moment actually inspired the opening scene of the book.

What character in this novel do you most relate to and why? 

I think I’m definitely the most like the main character, Noah. He’s kind of like an impersonation of the person I was in high school—idealistic, dramatic, and a little too plugged in to social media. He’s also the character that mostly closely shares my identity.

Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now? 

I think novels with compelling characters are always popular because characters are how we experience the world, plot, etc. Two stories with nearly identical plot beats or world building elements will be entirely different if the characters navigate them differently, so I think characters largely influence our impression of every other story element. That said, I think there’s more readily available media now than ever before, and that means people can be a lot pickier about what they read, so characters who pull you in from the top are really important.

Please describe the content of your latest read and what can readers expect from it. 

I recently read BE DAZZLED by Ryan La Sala and I can’t recommend it enough! It’s all about a cosplayer who’s so deep into the art of crafting and desperately in search of being recognized for his work, and his past relationship with a closeted jock completely threw all of that out of whack. The story alternates between the past and present, and it’s just an all-around lovely journey through the world of cosplay and crafts and the experience of first love between two boys who are so perfect for each other but also opposite in so many ways.

What’s next for you in the bookish world? 

More books hopefully! I’m part of the ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES Anthology out in 2022, and beyond that, I’m working on a bunch of different projects from more romcoms to horror and fantasy to middle grade and graphic novels.

Who is your current favorite writer? Why? 

Adam Silvera! I just adore the way he always manages to balance fresh world building and heart-wrenching characters. He’s truly a testament to how characters impact every element of your story, and I think he does a great job of making all of his characters deeply flawed but still truly lovable, and I admire that a lot.

Any writing advice for aspiring writers? 

If you write, you’re a writer, but if you want to write as a career, first do your research into what a writing career even looks like. And if you find you’re not into everything that goes along with working as a writer, there’s nothing wrong with writing for you or your friends or the internet. You don’t have to be a career writer to be a brilliant artist who reaches people with your writing.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. 

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