Author Q&A: Christina Lauren — Plus a Special Announcement

It goes without saying that, as an ardent fan of Christina Lauren‘s Wild Seasons series, I’ve been excited about their next book, Wicked Sexy Liar (Gallery, Feb. 2016), for quite some time. 

But I just about FELL OFF MY CHAIR when they shared this exclusive bit of news with us: If you purchase your copy of Wicked Sexy Liar from Target, you’ll find a BONUS short about Not-Joe included! Yes, that’s right, Oliver’s laid-back employee at Downtown Graffick, everyone’s favorite side character, gets his very own story! So if you’re a fan of Not-Joe’s quirky wisdom, you’ll want to head over to Target in February to pick up this exclusive edition of Wicked Sexy Liar. I’m already plotting my subway route as I type. 

I caught up with Christina Lauren to learn more about Wicked Sexy Liar and, of course, about Not-Joe!

Wicked Sexy Liar focuses on Lola’s roommate, London, and Mia’s ex, Luke. When did you know you wanted to tell their story? We knew we wanted to tell Luke’s story from the very beginning of Sweet Filthy Boy. Knowing so early on that he would be featured in the fourth book, it was hard to not include him more in the other three, just because we suspected we would love him a lot (and oh, we do). But it didn’t make sense to bring him in more fully right away.

The readers first hear about Luke briefly in SFB, but get a slightly bigger glimpse of him in Dark Wild Night. Writing that scene—in Lola’s point-of-view where we are seeing Luke’s reaction to watching Mia with Ansel for the first time … being able to layer in a little more motive and backstory to Luke’s behavior—was honestly so gratifying for us. Like, finally, we get to do Luke!

And London has been one of our favorite characters to write ever since she burst into the series with her cooler full of drinks and her FRITOS! Her life is full and content without any sort of romantic attachment. She’s living her post-college life on her terms and doing the things that make her happy. We think what we love most about London is that she’s willing to put herself first, even at that age.

So, honestly, when we finished writing Wicked Sexy Liar, we were both a little sad. Their story is absolutely complete, and (we hope!) wonderful, but it came so easily, we weren’t quite ready to be done with them yet.

We know you have an enthusiastic and vocal fanbase (we’re part of it!) — were you a little nervous about writing Luke, Mia’s manwhore ex, as a hero? We knew that readers would be nervous, but we never were, because we knew what we were going to do with him. In our experience, writing the characters that readers aren’t sure they’re going to like (Will is the most memorable, here) is the best kind of adventure for us. So far, *knocks on wood,* no one who has read WSL has any problem with Luke (insert eyebrow waggle here).

Even though she’s Lola’s roommate, London has grown close to both Harlow and Mia. Now she’s getting involved with Mia’s ex. We have to ask: IRL, do you think friends’ exes are off limits? This has been a great conflict to explore. It’s as tricky IRL as it is in this book, honestly. London is the newest friend in this group of coupled-off childhood besties, and aside from Not-Joe, she’s the only single one. The seventh-wheel aspect doesn’t ever really bother her, though. And even though she is close to Lola—and to a lesser extent Harlow and Mia—it doesn’t mean that she knows every detail of their backstories. So, when London meets Luke out of that group-context, she has no reason to immediately know who he is.

Writing the reaction of the rest of the group to London + Luke was wonderful, and also hard, because it made us have to explore the Real Human sides to each of these individuals we’ve created. As is true for many of us, too, the aspects that lend to our characters’ strengths—loyalty, ability to confront problems, tight-knit friendships—also somewhat define their flaws.

We’re so excited to hear about this bonus novella included with the Target edition of Wicked Sexy Liar! Like, really off-the-wall excited. Especially when we heard that Not Joe would be appearing. What can you tell us? (TELL US EVERYTHING.) We are so utterly, absurdly, keysmash-unintelligibly excited to share this short story! Target has been such a fun collaborator for us on these book-extras. The Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short is a sweet little taste of one of our favorite characters—it’s sort of like the mini-movies before a Pixar film—and we think it’s the perfect ending for the series.

We don’t want to spill too much, because there is still a little surprise for readers when they get their copy, but we can say that writing this was incredibly therapeutic for us. Whether it was because we missed Luke and London as soon as we wrapped up their (very complete, we promise) story, or we knew this would be the end of the Wild Seasons, or we were having a hard time figuring out how to start the next project—whatever the reason, this novella helped us wrap up the summer chaos of our lives, jump back in to writing and give these people the right send-off.

Not-Joe started out as comic relief, but as the series progressed, he became so much more than an easy laugh. He is the Jiminy Cricket in everyone’s ear, the real heart of the Wild Seasons, and we adore that about him. We admire his goodness, and his sincerity, and how it’s clear that he loves his friends with his whole self. He deserves his own ending, too, and we hope readers enjoy it!

The dedication in this book is “For our Captain Hookers, Alice Nina. There it is.” Care to explain? Nina Bocci and Alice Clayton are our rocks, our safe space and the two people who know us, our publishing journey and our every day lives better than anyone else in the writing community. “There it is,” is something that we all started to say—thanks to Alice—when one of us would set up a moment for the perfect joke…but really, it’s become our refrain for nearly everything now. The perfect comeback? There it is! Alice sends a disgusting GIF in the text box? Oy. There it is. One of us signs a new contract? THERE IT IS! Because they’ve been with us all along—listening to our stress and victories for this entire series—it seemed appropriate to dedicate this last book to them, and the friendships we all rely on every day.

You’ve said Wicked Sexy Liar is the last in the Wild Seasons series. Is this true? One thing about series is that, although our books can all stand entirely alone, they can intimidate new readers coming in to our books because it seems like a lot to catch up on. So, it is true that WSL is the last book in the Wild Seasons series. But fear not: we have many more stories in us, and they will all feel like CLo! 2016 will see the release of Beautiful Boss and Wicked Sexy Liar in February, and then our first standalone novel comes Fall 2016, with the final installment in the Beautiful series to come late 2016. A second standalone novel arrives early 2017, and there will be much, much more after that. We have more ideas than we do hours in the day to write them, so readers won’t get rid of us so easily!

Not-Joe’s story is available exclusively in the Wicked Sexy Liar Target edition, available February 2, 2016. And for more stories that sizzle, check out our Everything Erotica page!

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