Jasmine Guillory on Characters, Cupcakes, and THE PROPOSAL
Jasmine Guillory is one of the breakout authors of 2018, and we couldn't be more pleased. Her debut, The Wedding Date, was released in January, after picking up endorsements from NPR, Roxane Gay, and scores of independent bookstores across the country (including yours truly). It's not hard to see why—Guillory writes in effervescent prose that's effortlessly readable and a whole lot of fun. She creates lovable, well-drawn characters that immediately feel like old friends. And she writes about food in a way that will have you rushing out to enjoy a three-hour lunch at around 10 AM.
Join us on Monday, October 29 at 7 PM when we welcome Jasmine to the shop for a discussion and signing of her new book, The Proposal. (Cathy's been dreaming of this day since she first got her hands on an uncorrected proof of The Wedding Date about a year ago.) The book is lovely—it's a sensational semi-sequel to The Wedding Date, and it recently earned a spot on the November Indie Next List, cementing its status as a must-read book this fall. You can pre-order your copy at the bottom of the page—after reading our lovely Q&A with the author.
For readers who are new to you and your work, can you tell us a bit about your second novel, The Proposal?
The Proposal begins with Nik, a writer who lives in Los Angeles, being proposed to over the Jumbotron at Dodger Stadium by her actor boyfriend. When she says no, he storms off, and a camera crew descends on her. Luckily, Carlos (who readers of The Wedding Date, my first novel, will remember as Drew’s best friend) and his sister are sitting behind her, and help her get out of the stadium. Nik is charmed by Carlos, but is determined to swear off men after her disastrous proposal. But the universe has other plans...
It's a killer opening scene. Where did you get the idea for that? Please don’t tell us you know someone that happened to.
A few years ago during the Olympics, there was a public proposal that infuriated me—a woman had just won a medal, and her boyfriend jumped out of the stands to propose to her. I kept thinking, “Are you sure this is what SHE would want?” And then I wondered what would have happened if she’d publicly said no. The Wedding Date was on submission then, and I had a few people ask me “Are you writing a book for Carlos?” I did want to write a book for him, but I hadn’t yet had an idea that I felt worked for Carlos. But as soon as I thought of this, I thought “This is Carlos’ story!”
Your characters feel very real, and we love that. How do you develop your characters? Do you have an active imagination? Do you take inspiration from friends and family? Are you just an incredible eavesdropper?
Thank you so much! I get ideas from everywhere: I’ve always had a very active imagination, since long before I was a writer, and that helps a ton. I eavesdrop a lot, daydream a lot, and ask people a lot of questions about their lives, and try my best to listen hard.
Another thing that we love about your books is that you explore biracial relationships, which is an area of representation that hasn’t hit the conversational focus yet. What drew you to explore romance between biracial couples?
This wasn’t a conscious choice at all, but came with the setting and the characters. For books set in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, it felt not at all out of the ordinary to have them center around couples of different races and ethnic backgrounds. My hope is that I did their backgrounds justice.
Food occupies a delightfully prevalent space in both of your novels. What is the relationship you see between food and romance? (And, because after hearing about Cupcake Park we have to know, what’s your favorite kind of cupcake?)
Sharing meals with people—and cooking for them—is definitely a way I show people I love them, and that’s definitely true for my characters as well! I feel like food, and your relationship to it, is often so intimate and personal, especially when it’s a type of food you care about. Sharing my favorite foods with people I care about is like sharing a part of myself.
And can I claim two favorites? I am a huge fan of chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, but I also love the classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting!
You’ve set both The Wedding Date and The Proposal in the same world. Do you have plans for a third book in that same sphere? If so, do you know which characters you’ll focus on next?
I’m hard at work on the third book right now! It should come out sometime in 2019, and is about Alexa’s best friend Maddie. And it just might involve Alexa and Drew’s wedding...
Can you recommend some other great reads for fans of your work?
I have so many recommendations! Intercepted, by Alexa Martin, The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang, The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory, The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo, The Summer of Jordi Perez, by Amy Spalding, Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai, 32 Candles, by Ernessa T. Carter, The Bollywood Affair, by Sonali Dev, Acute Reactions, by Ruby Lang, all of Tessa Dare’s books, but especially the Spindle Cove series that starts with A Night to Surrender, and all of Beverly Jenkins’ books, but especially Destiny's Embrace.
Bonus question: What’s your favorite rom-com?
When Harry Met Sally!
Author Photo: Andrea Scher