I’m over the moon to have the wonderful and witty Anna Kaling, debut author of the highly buzzed about contemporary romance “Not OK, Cupid”–WHICH RELEASES ON FEBRUARY 4th, woohoo!–on the blog today! I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Anna through our #2020debuts group and even had the privilege of reading an advance (check out my Goodreads review here! http://bit.ly/2RbFQoL) and was utterly charmed by the protagonist, Ally.
I hope you enjoy discovering more about this brilliant book and author!
Congratulations on this fantastic book, Anna, and can’t wait to see what’s next!
Warning – we have the same initials, but I promise I’m not talking to myself, LOL!
AK: Tell us a little about yourself.
AK: I’m from London, so I enjoy rain and queuing and I don’t make eye contact unless you’ve done something bad, like microwaving tea. I’m 30, though I still get spots and I have A Wrinkle. I’m thinking of naming it Ethan.
I write nonfiction for a day job and fiction for a … night job? In my spare time I’m usually being sat on by cats while watching bad horror movies (preferably with sharks) or reading (sharks optional – I haven’t found that great shark fiction I’m looking for. Recommendations very welcome.)
AK: What’s the premise of your book?
AK: Ally is falling for her best friend’s father, Marcus. This isn’t great, because not only is her best friend desperate for his parents to get back together, but to hide his sexuality he’s told his entire family he and Ally are engaged. And even if Marcus seems to know the relationship is a farce and is asking some very awkward questions in an annoyingly attractive way, she can’t act on her feelings. Sam would never forgive her.
Ally doesn’t have the best track record in relationships (well, not real ones – her fake relationship with Sam has been going great!) – and Marcus is the only man she’s ever been able to imagine spending her life with. But how can she spend the rest of her life without Sam, when he’s been by her side since they were children? Whatever she does, she’ll drive one of them away for good.
AK: What inspired you to write it?
AK: I want to say something artsy and romantic about how I was visited in my dreams by a beautiful muse who whispered the blurb to me… but actually, and very unusually for a writer, coming up with ideas is a big struggle for me. For Not OK, Cupid, I wrote a list of my favourite romance tropes and tried to twist a few of them together to come up with something interesting. I turned Best Friend’s Sister into best friend’s father and instead of having a Fake Engagement lead to the fake couple falling love, I had it lead to another romance entirely. It was a fun challenge to take well-loved story elements and turn them into something fresh.
And I think older men are hot. That too.
AK: What are you most looking forward to this debut year? And conversely, what are you most nervous about?
AK: I’m really looking forward to hearing what people think of Not OK, Cupid! Writing can be hard and lonely (especially as I have zero self-discipline and no friends) but it’s SO worth it when I hear I’ve made someone feel something, whether they laughed or cried or just had fun. I had some lovely messages when my novella was published. And also some really perverted messages on Instagram. Maybe if I had friends, someone would have warned me about the pervs on Instagram.
And, because I’m a writer and therefore a ball of contradictory neuroticism, I’m most nervous about hearing what people think of Not OK, Cupid. I take criticism surprisingly well considering the state of my brain, but a failed debut can be tricky to come back from. If people don’t love the book and tell their friends about it, I’m convinced I’ll be kicked out of publishing forever and will have to go and live in an IKEA box.
AK: What authors do you admire and/or have influenced your development as a writer? Please feel free to add specific books, we love recommendations!
AK: I’ve been compared to Jennifer Cruise which was a massive compliment because I love her and want to bear her children. My favourite is probably ANYONE BUT YOU because it features a dog and a hot doctor, two things I enjoy petting and taking for walks.
I’ll buy anything by Tess Gerritsen, Bill Bryson, Peter James, and Michael Brooks.
A few of my favourite books from 2019 are:
- The Soulstealers by Jacqueline Rohrbach. I don’t read a lot of YA or fantasy so you’d think I wouldn’t have liked this, but I loved the concept and how it dealt with female relationships. Much the same reason I’m looking forward to Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters!
- We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer, a wonderfully angsty m/m romance that deals really sensitively with the aftermath of a school shooting.
- A Manor of Life and Death by Kim Watt. Cosy mystery featuring both dragons and the Women’s Institute – I mean, come on, what’s not to love? Be warned this series will make you want to eat a lot of cake, which may or may not be a good thing.
AK: What are you working on now?
AK: I’m writing another romcom featuring a socially-awkward ballet dancer (the sister of Ally from Not OK, Cupid) and a Bad Boy with a Good Heart™. I can never resist a bad boy hero, and they say ‘write what you know’ so socially-awkward it is.
I’m also working on a collaboration, which is very exciting! I’m writing the male character’s chapters and I’m having a blast because he’s a petulant dick and, well, again – write what you know.
AK: What question do you wish I had asked, and answer it!
AK: Do I believe in the Loch Ness Monster, Anita? Of course I do. And if you don’t, I will fight you.
4 February (worldwide)
4 February (UK)
11 February (Australia)
31 March (US and Canada)
Ally Rivers has three jobs, a disastrous dating record, and her gran won’t stop talking about sex with eighty-year-old Melvin. Now her best friend Sam confesses his whole family think they’re engaged. The longest relationship she’s ever been in is fabricated, and her intended is gay.
Playing Sam’s besotted lover at a family party, Ally discovers the hot gardener she’s been flirting with is Sam’s dad, Marcus. She even sucks at fake relationships. But Marcus is on to them and embroils Ally in another scheme – encouraging Sam to come out.
Scheming is not Ally’s forte and, worse, she and Marcus are falling for each other. After years in an unhappy marriage, he’s not letting Ally go without a fight, but she’s torn between the best friend she’ll ever have and the only man she’s ever been in love with. Either choice will leave two broken hearts, and Gran will still have a more successful love life than her…
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