Love, Life and Writing Advice from Kristin Rockaway


Do you remember the last time you read a book and immediately thought of all the questions you’d love to ask the author if you had the opportunity? I experienced this recently after I finished How To Hack A Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway. This romance follows Melanie. Mel is a New Yorker, working in a heavily male dominated career field who deals with some absolute assholes on a daily basis. Early in the story we are sitting alone with Mel at a bar as she waits for a date that never shows. She has a girl gang that is true squad goals and with their cheering on decides to create a website of her own that serves as sort of a precautionary tale for the dates that went wrong. Then Alex comes along and shakes things up! I had so many thoughts.

I reached out to the author and was so excited when she agreed to answer whatever questions I had. Without further ado, here are all my fangirl questions and Kristin Rockaway’s answers.

Bree: Your book was so insightful and so fascinating to me. Thank you for sharing your own real life romance with us!

Kristin: Thank you so much! I love to hear that you connected with the story.

(Note: If you haven’t checked it out already, Kristin did a guest post on Frolic, titled I Found My Hea On The Internet which you can find here.

Bree: I have to get my preliminary question out of the way. I didn’t begin reading romance early in life like so many romance readers. Can you share your own personal
romance origin story? Do you remember when you picked up your first romance novel, and do you remember what it was?

Kristin: My intro to romance came in the form of chick lit, which was a popular genre in the early 2000s. As a single woman in my early 20s living in New York City, I related to the heroine-centered coming-of-age stories, the focus on personal growth, and of course the happily ever afters. At the time, Harlequin had an imprint called Red Dress Ink, and I devoured those books as fast as I could. The first one I ever read was a gift from my best friend: Milkrun by Sarah Mlynowski, but my all-time favorite is Burning The Map by Laura Caldwell.

Bree: You recently shared your personal online dating story, which is how you met your husband. I found quite a few parallels with what you shared and what Mel, our heroine experiences. When and how did writing this story come to you?

Kristin: You know all those chick-lit books I was reading in the early 2000s? The heroine always seemed to work in marketing or advertising or publishing. But I was a software developer, working in the male-dominated IT industry, and I always wanted to see someone like me reflected in those stories. Over a decade later, I finally got around to writing one of my own. So this story’s been brewing in my brain for a long time.

Bree: I found the scenes where Melanie or one of the side characters are discussing “data” very fascinating. I felt you wove such important information people should be aware of, so flawlessly into the story. What did your research for those scenes consist of?

Kristin: A lot of this information I already knew from my years of working in the data- driven software development. But I never worked for a dating app like Fluttr, so that’s where the research came in. There was once an article in particular that I found particularly disturbing, from the Guardian: “I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my own deepest, darkest secrets.” After reading this, two thoughts immediately came to mind:

1. “There’s not enough transparency with regard to how these apps are using our data.”

2. “Now I know a major plot point of How To Hack A Heartbreak

Bree: You did such an amazing job showcasing the different expectations different people have when creating an online dating profile. In Mel’s group of girlfriends alone, they each had very different hopes and expectations they were looking for. Then as the story goes on, Mel and the ladies really become advocates for getting offline and actually interacting with people. Why was writing this shift in the story so important for you? What do you want your readers to take away from it in the end?

Kristin: There’s a line in the book that I think sums it up: “It was funny: modern technology could forge a connection between two people on opposite ends of the earth, but it could just as easily drive a wedge between two people standing side by side in the same room.” Our smartphones connect us to billions of people worldwide, but it can also be very isolating. Swipe culture trains us to keep looking for the next best thing, instead of appreciating what we already have. If our faces are always buried in our screens, we can easily miss something truly amazing happening right before our eyes.

Bree: For the aspiring romance author at home right now who is nervous to put pen to paper or thinks she has no idea what she’s doing: what’s one piece of advice you’d give her?

Kristin: Don’t let fear keep you from living your dream. When I started writing, I didn’t know what I was doing. Quite frankly, I still don’t know what I’m doing—every time I start a new novel, I feel like I’ve forgotten how to string together words to make a coherent sentence. But I never allow my fear to stop me. I write even when I have no idea what I’m doing, because writing is not about perfection; it’s about curiosity, drive, and the courage to move forward despite our fears.

Bree: Lastly, what’s the last book you read that completely blew your mind and one self-care recommendation?

Kristin: I’m a bit of a self-help junkie, particularly when it comes to reading books about how to increase my productivity (writing life + mom life = not enough hours in the day). One of my favorite authors in this genre is Cal Newport, and his latest book on the subject, Digital Minimalism, offers a lot of realistic – and life altering- strategies for how to improve your focus and reconnect to your inner thoughts in our increasingly distracting world. That book also inspires my self-care recommendation: #GetOffTheInternet. Take a few hours—or if you can, a whole day—to disconnect from social media, escape the 24-hour news cycle, and put your phone in airplane mode. It’s amazing how much better I feel after I do a little digital detox.

When I emailed these questions to Kristin, I was in total fangirl mode, but I feel like now it’s on a whole other level. I don’t know what I was expecting but her responses are so inspiring and so motivating. I hope you, dear reader friends, were able to take something away from her answers. Whether you’ve been sitting with a story on your mind but have been allowing fear to take over or you’re like me and are way overdo for a digital detox. Go for it girl, you owe it to yourself.

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway, out now!
By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers–“Hatchlings”–who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.
But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.
Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez–the only non-douchey guy at Hatch–has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

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