Exclusive interview with Sara Holland!
Who is your all time favorite YA couple? Which YA couple would you break up if you had the chance?
Ooh, that’s a hard question! But my all time favorite YA couple might be June and Day from Marie Lu’s Legend series. These two go through so much together, and their bond is formed just as much from the quiet, mundane moments as the epic ones. There are so many obstacles to their relationship, both external—the world pushing them apart; and internal—their own backgrounds, wounds and hang-ups coming between them. So they have to overcome those external barriers *and* work through their own issues before they can be together, and it’s just so realistic and lovely.
As to who I would break up… sigh. My younger self would hate me for saying this, but I think Jace and Clary from The Mortal Instruments need to at least take a break and work on themselves for a while. They meet when they’re, what, fourteen and fifteen, and it’s this super-intense obsession from there on out. I love them dearly and think they could still end up together (they’ve been through a lot together as well!) but I feel like they could both use some time to figure out who they are as individuals.
If you were to choose one of the Gerling boys for yourself, who would you choose and why?
Haha, will anyone be surprised that I’d choose Liam? Roan is fine, but I feel like nerdy, moody Ravenclaw Liam is much more on my level. He wouldn’t judge me for spending all my free time in libraries and bookstores and not, like, outside.
Ok, let’s be real. You know how to write REAL romance. What are your tips for writing actually romantic romance? Are you inspired by your own life when writing love stories?
Aw, thank you! I’m a big fan of the slow burn, so I usually end up taking milestones—first acknowledgement of feelings, first contact, first kiss, etc., and moving them all to a later place in the narrative than I’d initially planned. We all love a star-crossed love story, so I try to build in a lot of obstacles and conflict, but not piling on too much that it would overcome the growing attraction. And of course the final ingredient is just to try to create layered and compelling love interests, so that hopefully readers will fall in love with them along with the POV character.
I wouldn’t say I’m inspired by real life, though. I like my real-life romance a bit less tumultuous than in books. :)
What’s the worst/most awkward part of writing a ~sexy~ scene? What’s secretly your favorite part?
My favorite part is the buildup—both the will-they-or-won’t-they throughout the book, and the tension in the scene itself, when the characters realize they want to kiss (or whatever) but there’s still uncertainty. Is the other person into you too? Will taking the next step mess up your friendship, upset the geopolitical balance of the kingdom, cause a magic explosion, etc.? It’s fun to balance whatever concerns the characters may have against the romantic tension, and turn the dial on the latter up until they pretty much can’t do anything else but lean in.
The worst part is the actual choreography—keeping track of where everyone’s limbs, hands, mouths need to go; not ending up with a scene that reads like there’s five hands between two people. It’s important to me to keep the scene from feeling too abstract, but it can end up feeling like human Tetris.
What bookish love story do you wish you had written?
I’m fascinated by the idea of soul mates and (obviously) reincarnation, so maybe Karou and Akiva from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Talk about star-crossed—everything is against these two, from their worlds being at war with each other, to the terrible things they themselves have done. Eventually they find common cause, and even at the end of the trilogy, it doesn’t seem that life will run smoothly for them anytime soon. But I’d love to explore how a relationship that starts in calamity might grow and change throughout the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
Now that you can finally talk about it, what’s the spoiler you’ve been DYING to shout about from EVERMORE?
A lot of fans have told me they hope to see more Liam in EVERMORE, and he’s definitely going to play a huge role! Liam and Jules are largely working together in this book, rather than being at odds as they seemed to be in EVERLESS. I really enjoyed figuring out what their relationship looked like outside of Liam’s family’s estate and with all the secrets wiped away. Not that it’s smooth sailing for them—there is that whole thing about the Sorceress threatening to kill everyone Jules loves, after all. But I think the new dynamic is really interesting, and I hope Liam fans will be pleased!
What will you miss most about writing Caro and Jules?
Their relationship is a Jenga tower of love and hate built over centuries, lies and betrayals that still can’t blot out the happy memories they share. (It’s sort of similar to a platonic version of Karou and Akiva’s relationship that I talked about above, only poisoned.) It’s a super fascinating dynamic to write. Seeing the world from Jules’ eyes, we know how truly wicked Caro is, but Jules (and, I hope, readers) still can’t fully let go of the love they hold for her. And Caro loves Jules, too, in her twisted way. It feels larger-than-life because it is, and I’ll definitely miss writing that intense, warped bond!
If you were to rewrite EVERMORE from Caro’s perspective what would you have loved to include?
I would love to write about her relationships with the Queen and Ina before Jules comes into the picture. How did she gain the Queen’s trust, and how did she keep it when the Queen realized she didn’t age? What was it like watching Ina grow up, befriending her, all the while thinking (as Caro initially did, before Jules came along) that Ina was the Alchemist, who Caro would eventually have to destroy? I think she must have come to care for them, in her own way—so did she ever have a moment of doubt? And so on.
EVERMORE comes with its own cast of new characters. I’m partial to Elias, but who is your favorite new addition?
Stef is one of Liam’s classmates at his elite school, an isolated, jaded hedge-witch-in-training who helps Jules out despite her world-weariness. She’s in Jules’ life only briefly, but she stole every scene she appeared in!