Meet the BFFs Behind This Heartbreaking LGBTQ+ YA Novel
As the leaves change color and the days grow shorter, we’re on the hunt for cozy reads that’ll give us an excuse to stay wrapped up in blankets. Enter Autoboyography, a thoughtful, gorgeous YA novel that looks at what it means to be queer and a person of faith. The novel follows Tanner Scott and Sebastian Brother, two Utah teens who meet in a writing class and immediately feel a powerful connection — one that could go against everything their community believes in. It’s a novel about that rush of first love and the crushing feelings of heartbreak caused by things out of your control. What makes the book even more special is that it’s written by a BFF power-writing duo, Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, AKA bestselling author, “Christina Lauren.” We caught up with both of these genius writers to chat creativity, books on their must-read list, and more. Scroll on to learn more about these brilliant ladies.
Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.
CL: Our first thought was simply, Two guys fall in love. But maybe better would be, Queer love and faith can coexist.
B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?
CL: It’s different for both of us. We both prefer to work in our offices, and both have standing desks. Mornings are the best time for Lo to work, and she usually bangs out most of her word count before lunch so she can deal with emails, edits, and other types of work after lunch. Lately, Christina has been finding a lot of luck writing later in the day. But most importantly, we’re both aware that what works for us for one book might not work for the next — who knows why. So, we try to not to be precious about our process. (Photo via Christina Lauren)
B+C: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for book research?
CL: There was the time we spent eight solid hours in a strip club for book research (and it wasn’t even for our book).
B+C: What’s your go-to cure for when you’re stuck in a creativity rut?
CL: Give it space to breathe. You can’t force the words to come. Usually, we know early on in a day whether it’s going to be a day of flowing words. If not, we read, exercise, watch good television, or talk it out with each other. The true benefit of having a co-author is usually only one brain is stuck at a time.
B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?
CL: We saw Dolly Parton in concert last year. She is this tiny little thing but she has enough wisdom for this entire crazy world and shares it so freely. We’d love to spend a day just listening to her talk about her life.
For book-community inspiration, we both adore JK Rowling. Not only has she written books that have sparked the curiosity and imagination of generations, but she has written brilliantly in several genres of fiction — our dream. Also, she interacts with her fans in an incredibly open way, and stands behind the things she cares deeply about. JKR is a wonder.
B+C: What’s your latest Twitter obsession?
CL: Christina is the one who usually becomes o b s e s s e d with things and her current obsession/love is K-pop, in particular BTS.
B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love + recognition?
CL: The two that come to mind are Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer Hubbard, and Loud Is How I Love You by Mercy Brown. Try Not to Breathe is about a 16-year-old named Ryan and the year following his suicide attempt. It covers a serious subject but it’s told in such a beautiful, positive way that we couldn’t put it down. Loud Is How I Love You is a voicey powerhouse of a romance and we’ve probably read it 10 times. Anyone who came of age in the ’90s needs to read this one.
B+C: What’s next on your to-read pile?
CL: Lo is savoring The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah, with Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King on deck. Christina has been reading a lot of craft books lately, her current being The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. She’s also reading Final Girls by Riley Sager.
B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?
CL: We all know the advice “The only way to write a book is to sit down and write,” and while that’s true, we also like to remind aspiring writers (or aspiring artists of any ilk) to run your own race. Some people create quickly, some don’t. Some people have a million ideas, some don’t. Write or paint or dance because it moves you, and you have a story to tell, but don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing. Comparison is the thief of joy.
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