We talked to International Bestselling author Christina Lauren at SDCC about their upcoming M/M YA romance Autoboyography, fandom, and more!
We have been big fans of Christina Lauren for a long time! It’s been so wonderful to see their success over the last few years, and their upcoming novel, Autoboyography, is helping break down barriers in the young adult genre.
The novel centers around a high school senior, Tanner, who is openly bisexual. The problem is, Tanner and his family moved from California to Provo, Utah, a very conservative LDS community. His mother, who has personal issues with the religion, urges her son to keep his orientation private so he won’t be ostracized by his classmates or the community at large.
He manages to keep things to himself until the last semester of his senior year when the TA for his writing class catches his eye. Sebastian is a very devout Mormon who doesn’t know how to deal with the feelings he has always had or the ones that are growing for Tanner the longer they hang out together.
This novel brilliantly combines the pitfalls that come with first love, finding yourself, and family. Both families want to protect their sons and do what the believe is best. Christina Lauren manages to take an incredibly sensitive topic that includes sexual orientation and religion without vilifying some of the people involved.
It’s a completely engaging read that you need to put on your TBR now!
We had the incredible opportunity to speak with Christina Lauren at SDCC. Listen to our interview below about the novel, their writing process, and general fandom flails!
Can you tell us a little about Autoboyography‘s premise and why it was a critical story for you to tell?
Earlier in SDCC week we attended the “Embracing the Romantic” panel, which was so much fun. (For more, including exclusive images, go HERE.) During that panel, when asked to recommend a romance book for readers unfamiliar with the genre, Stephanie Perkins not only recommended Autoboyography, but also called it a special and important book. Both Lauren and Christina expressed being very proud of this book and were thrilled to get such praise from Stephanie Perkins, an author that they’ve adored for a long time. When it came to why they wanted to tell this M/M YA romance, the reason was actually quite personal to Christina. She explained that in her work in a Utah school district, she heard many stories from LGBT students sharing their experiences about reconciling their sexuality/gender identity and religion. Autoboyography is a shout-out of sorts to those students, encouraging them to believe they are perfect just as they are.
Can you speak about your decision to make your main character, Tanner, bisexual, as opposed to homosexual?
For Lauren, who identifies as bisexual, the misconception that those who are bi are “indifferent”, “indecisive”, or “greedy” was one that she wanted to address in the book. Like Tanner, Lauren’s experience coming out to her family was an “easy process”. At the same time, in Autoboyography, Tanner tackles this misperception and speaks candidly about what his sexual identity means to him and that, as someone who identifies as bisexual, “the parts are less important than the person”. The conversation shifted briefly to the portrayal of Tanner’s and Sebastian’s parents in the book and the ways that parental concern, while well-intentioned, can be restrictive.
A quote that stands out in the book is “In truth, the only way to write a book is to write it. However you get it done is your process.” What is your process as a writing duo and what advice would you give to struggling writers?
The quote really embodied Christina Lauren’s writing method. Of all the books they wrote last year, each one was written by a different process. Christina said that, compared to Lauren, she’d say she’s a slower writer. There was a point where she was frustrated about being unable to emulate Lauren’s writing process. However, Lauren encouraged Christina, saying that there was nothing wrong with the way she writes. In that vein, comparisons to other authors can be unfair. Over time, they have learned to become more fluid and flexible, as their projects and obligations increase.
Of course we had to ask Christina Lauren for teasers about their (MULTIPLE) upcoming projects and they gave us some goodies. Next year, they have a romance out in June that Lauren is currently editing. This is a book they haven’t announced yet, so they can’t offer much else. But they do compare the heroine to Hanna (Beautiful Player) in being playful and quirky. This book will also feature a Korean hero, who they are in love with. (And an awesome discussion of Christina’s new obsession over K-Pop followed!) In March 2018, they’ll be releasing another book that’s a departure from what they’ve done in the past (*EXCITE*). Right now, Christina is also making changes to a pilot they’re writing.
As authors who are familiar with the world of fanfiction and have moved into traditional publishing, do you think that fic is still relevant?
“Oh yes!” Both Christina and Lauren have never been shy about their beginnings in Twilight fanfiction (*WOOT*) and they still have close ties to the community, including readers and the many authors that emerged from the TwiFandom. Generally speaking, if we look at other fandoms like One Direction and Harry Potter, fanfiction has produced several best-selling authors. Fic remains an opportunity to develop writing skills and also search out more of what we love.
Speaking of fandom, in general, what is it you love most about it?
Twilight and the Twilight Fandom are very important to Christina Lauren and they say that if it wasn’t for TwiFandom, they never would have met. Additionally, the feeling of being at SDCC in Hall H, at a concert, etc., surrounded by other people who love something as much as you do, is like nothing else. Fandoms have their own language, canon, and events that they share. The collective feeling and energy is indescribable. To see the friendships formed in fandom continue, even internationally, is unbelievable.
What is the first thing that came to mind when we say…?
Continuing with the TwiFandom love, we played a game with Christina Lauren, call it “Word Association: TwiFandom Edition”. The words we chose were: turpentine, moist, spark, OOC (out of character), Love Day, slowburn, vanguard. Christina Lauren’s reactions were so perfect and so fun! Listen below to our walk down fave TwiFic memory lane and play along too! 🙂
Autoboyography is out on September 12, so go HERE to add it to your TBR list!
For the full, uninterrupted interview, listen below:
***Special thanks to Kristin Dwyer and LeoPR for assisting us with coordinating this interview.