Sunday Brunch: A Chat with Authors Lynn Painter and Jennifer Audette


[Note from Frolic: Our resident YA expert got the chance to chat with authors Lynn Painter and Jennifer Audette and ask them a few questions each. Up first, Lynn Painter!]

Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel? 

Lynn Painter: Better than the Movies is a rom-com inspired by all the classic rom-coms. I grew up watching them with my mother, like Liz, and the book is kind of a fun play on how someone’s worldview and expectations can be completely skewed – for better or worse – by being raised on a steady diet of happily-ever-after’s. 

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

I definitely relate to Liz, the main character. Back in the day, she was a dorky, silly-hearted little girl who did ridiculous things like make-up songs and perform them for the neighborhood kids (who SO didn’t care and peppered her with dodge balls while she sang).  

But now (senior year), as Liz attempts to convince those same neighbor boys that she’s no longer the “little weirdy” and is actually very normal (and cool), she continuously puts herself in embarrassing situations by trying too hard.  

Been there, done that, Lizzie. 

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

My latest read is The Ex-Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon. It is smart and funny and so full of swoony banter that I cannot stop recommending it. Radio is such a unique setting, and fake-dating always gets a big ol’ thumbs up from me.  

Like, seriously – you should read it. Wanna borrow mine? LMK. 😉 

I also recently read and loved: Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant, Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi, A Lady’s Formula For Love by Elizabeth Everett, Killer Content by Olivia Blacke, If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier and Meet Me In Paradise by Libby Hubscher. 

What’s next for you in the bookish world? 

My second YA rom-com, The Do-Over, comes out next year (S&S BFYR, May 2022).  

Here’s the blabber pitch: Girl gets stuck in a Groundhog Day scenario, where the same terrible Valentine’s Day keeps repeating itself. After endless repeats, girl decides to embark upon the Day Of No Consequences, where she does whatever she wants because it doesn’t count and won’t matter, anyway. Only when she wakes up, it’s Feb. 15th and she has to face the consequences of all the things (tattoo, stolen car, make-out session with school bad boy) she did the day before.  

Also, my debut adult rom-com, Mr. Wrong Number, will be published (Berkley) in March 2022.  

Here’s the quickie blurb: A romantic text from a random misdial turns into a hilariously hot – albeit anonymous – relationship. But little does the pair know, they already know each other in real life.                    

Who is your current favorite writer? Why? 

No one can touch Christina Lauren for me. They’re great at steamy, sexy romance, but they’re also SO good at funny. When I read a rom-com, I want to laugh-out-loud, as well as swoon, and that Dynamic Duo never disappoints.  

Any writing advice for aspiring writers?   

It sounds SO cliché, but set aside time to write; schedule it. I’m a mom of five with a day job, and I know just how impossible that sounds. I rolled my eyes for a lot of years when authors would say “make the time,” like it was that easy. Yeah, okayyyy. 

But even if it’s at 4am (done it) or 10pm (done it), and even if it’s only for an hour at a time, having that dedicated increment of minutes where all you do is produce words makes all the difference. Trust me. I’m still only able to write for about an hour on weeknights and significantly more than that on the weekends, but those hyper-concentrated time bubbles have allowed me to finish multiple books and not miss a single editing deadline (yet – pretty-please knock on wood). 

Also, I strongly recommend following experienced agents and editors on Twitter. Even if you hate Twitter. It never ceases to amaze me how much helpful information they share on the bird app about querying, the submission process, and manuscripts they’re dreaming of acquiring. I wish I’d had the opportunity to sit at their feet and listen while I was still in the trenches (alas, I was Twitterless), because they’re willing to share every little thing you need to know to make it out of their slush piles. 

Up next, Jennifer Audette!
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent book? 

Jennifer Audette: One day a few years ago, my Mom and Dad and I were catching up when I was back home in Miami for a visit. My Dad started telling me this incredible story of his days as a youth playing baseball. I’m not even sure how the subject came up or how I’d never heard this story before, but what he told me seemed like a made-for-TV-movie. I knew I had to share this important story with the world, especially with all of the political and racial strife going on. So, that led to my first book, “Phil and the Good Luck Charm.” It is a softcover children’s fiction book based on my Dad’s childhood experience.

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

My father is the title character in the book, and I’m definitely a lot like him. I have a very strong work ethic and I’m no-nonsense. And like Phil, I also didn’t love my bat mitzvah lessons. 

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

We seem to have a penchant for darkness in books and movies these days. Maybe it’s because we know so much more about mental health and that so many strong men and women are overcomers. Dark genres are not my cup of tea, maybe because my real world can get pretty rough some days. I like romantic comedies and chick lit and nonfiction, either biographies or self-help stuff, like Jon Acuff or leadership advice. In light fiction, some of those female characters are still powerful, but a lot of times they are very predictable – and that’s why I like the genre, always a happily-ever-after ending! Occasionally, I am surprised or disappointed by a chick-lit character or storyline though and boy do I get upset at the author …

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

Phil is a pretty decent catcher on his baseball team – for a 12-year-old. Like many kids that summer on Miami Beach, Phil played on a youth league. Only, his baseball practices and games sometimes interfered with his bar mitzvah lessons. You see, Phil was only months away from turning 13 and marking the Jewish rite of passage. Somehow, his two worlds collide and he finds himself facing some pretty tough opponents.

This book, aimed at older elementary-age children and middle-schoolers, shows how embracing each others’ differences can lead to the biggest victories – both off and on the field. 

My hope is that preteens and teens would ask themselves, What would I do in this situation? 

What’s next for you in the writing world? 

I write every single day for a living as the public relations director of a large hospital and health system in Florida, so I get to play with words and voices and writing styles all the time. 

That said, all writers have one or two book ideas that float around in their minds. I have a few and hope to explore some of those storylines, themes and characters in the next few years. 

Until then, I’ve been spending each Sunday morning the last two months interviewing a friend of mine who has led a pretty extraordinary life and has a wonderful story of resiliency and hope. Our aim is to co-author a book that will inspire others. More to come on that!

Who is your current favorite writer? Why? 

I’ve always been a big fan of both Terry McMillan and Emily Giffin, because their chick lit is strong and sassy and offers a nice escape from real life. I even once flew up to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square in New York City to listen to Emily talk about her newest book at the time, meet her, have her sign a copy of the book, eat some great Italian food and then fly back the next morning. That’s author love, eh?

Right now, however, I’m reading Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land,” and I’m finding it hard to pick back up. I’m at the point where he is about 3 weeks into his Presidency and partisanship is making his work very difficult and long-held beliefs about race are discussed and questioned and traced. After what is going on in our world the last 12 months, the rumblings of racism and right-wing Conservatism that began long before the first black person became president of the United States of America are too hard for me to read about right now. The reality of then became overshadowed by the reality of now. I long to pick it back up, but I need to feel at ease before I do so. It’s definitely not light reading, but it’s also so good. 

Any writing advice for aspiring writers?  

Write a lot. Play around with different voices and tones. Go outside your comfort zone. First person. A character’s voice. Your boss’s voice. Funny. Serious. Tear-jerking. Action. Sports. Drama.

And then – eek! – hand it to someone to read. That’s my second piece of advice: Get a lot of feedback from a diverse group of people, especially feedback that you are going to hate. Feedback that’s going to cause you to go back to the drawing board or rewrite a whole chapter, rethink an entire story arc. That’s OK. It will make your writing stronger. I mean, after all, you want people to read your writing, so listen to the people who are doing the reading
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