LAUREN LAYNE INTERVIEW AUTHOR OF "CRUSHED"

Welcome our guest:
LAUREN LAYNE


AUTHOR OF:





Rad-Reader:  Where did you find the idea for this storyline?  I know it’s a series this just happens to be the one I happened to read.

Lauren:  It came about in kind of a funny way. I originally wrote ISN'T SHE LOVELY as a standalone book, and I decided to do a college-spin on the classic Pygmalion tale (the basis for My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman, She’s All That, etc). When my publisher asked for more New Adults from me, I immediately knew that I wanted to write about some of the secondary characters from Isn’t She Lovely, and decided it would be fun to continue with the “new spin on a classic story” idea. I based BROKEN (book 2) on Beauty & the Beast, and CRUSHED (book 3) is very deliberately a modern version of The Ugly Duckling. Mind you, the interpretation is quite loose though. I didn’t want my darling Chloe to be a downtrodden victim, so I made her quite feisty and confident.
Rad-Reader:  Which by the way I loved about her character.  For you had Michael refer to her deflection of her feistiness in order for people not to see her pain yet you gave her backbone.

Rad-Reader:  I get that Michael has things to sort out about his family bloodline since the rug has been pulled out from under him but why is he really being such a behind to everyone but especially Chloe by withholding friendship or other possibilities?

Lauren:  One of the best things about writing New Adult (as opposed to Adult Contemporary, which I also write), is that you write younger characters that are still trying to figure things out. In Michael’s case, he’s had a pretty pampered upbringing, and much of the series is him figuring out how to be a man. I know that sounds cheesy, but of all the characters in the series, he really has the most growth. He goes from being a pampered college boy used to getting whatever he wants, to being dealt a few harsh blows and figuring out how to handle them with grace. So why is he such a big turd? He’s mostly like a big wounded bear who’s hurting inside and hasn’t yet learned how to cope with the pain other than lashing out.

Rad-Reader:  Chloe was such an exuberant personality that gave the reader the idea she didn’t care what people thought.  Was that deliberate so it could set the mood?

Lauren:  Chloe is really her own force of nature. I get more questions about her than any other character I’ve ever written, and the truth is, she really just sort of wrote herself. I don’t remember consciously deciding to make her outspoken, or curvy, or hilarious, she just sort of was born on the page that way. I can only wish all my other characters were that easy!
Rad-Reader:  I was so her growing up.  I was outspoken, curvy, and I don’t know how funny.  Yet, I remember trying to be the one that poked fun at myself before the mean guys could so they would laugh with me not at me.

Rad-Reader:  Michael was playing the role of liking Kristen to get to Devon.  But at times it seemed like he did want to bed her but didn’t like her.  Would that be more accurate?

Lauren:  The Michael/Kristen thing was tricky to get just right. Michael’s desire for Kristen was really a classic case of him not knowing himself. Kristen’s poise and “perfect” looks reminded him of the girl from his past that he was still hung up on, so he pretty much convinced himself that he wanted her, and can also strike out at his half-brother at the same time. However, I think even he realizes pretty early on that he’s just going through the motions of being the villain. He’s smart, behind all those hormones :)
Rad-Reader:  See I completely forgot about that whole Olivia thing.

Rad-Reader:  When Chloe showed up Michael didn’t seem to know what to make of this loud, candy eating, with hair out of control mess of woman.  Yet, in part of his description a word he used there was “lush” where others would have flat out said FAT!  Was that a small beginning to a friendship/relationship?

Lauren:  Yes, that’s such a good observation! That moment is really the cornerstone of Michael and Chloe’s friendship. Chloe, despite all of her outward confidence, is wary of being overweight, and here’s this gorgeous guy who she fully expects to fat-shame her, and he just matter of factly tells her that she’s not as healthy as she can be. Which she hates hearing, but at the same time it’s wonderfully refreshing, you know?

Rad-Reader:  Michael came from a crazy background which is why he is in Cedar Grove.  Why do you have him work three mini jobs?  I wasn’t sure if he was getting paid extra by the ladies that he serviced on those tennis days too. Yuk! What cracked me up is he would get upset when Chloe would mention it.

Lauren:  Again, this comes down to Michael’s growth. He was a super rich kid, and I think in order for him to evolve from the “boy” that he was, it was good for him to struggle to make ends meet. And those tennis ladies were icky, but definitely not paying him, so he wasn’t totally morally corrupt. Just a typical horny guy and a little bit lost :)
Rad-Reader:  Still YUK!!! J

Rad-Reader:  Devon to me was not the guy I thought he was by the end of the book, Chloe had brought him along through it all.  His rock really not the other way around.  Do you think he led her on because that was my feeling?  Then his end game at the end of summer party much just sealed it for me.

Lauren:  Devon is … complicated. I’m not even sure I get him! Readers always ask if he’ll get his own story, and I’m just not sure. He’s so immature. I think Devon, like Michael is really just sort of young and maybe a little bit clueless, but unlike Michael, he’s not quite ready to grow. I definitely know he never meant to toy with Chloe, but in the end he just wasn’t the best dude in the room.

Rad-Reader:  Michael played the poor me and then some.  Chloe walked him through so much.  Helped him and then he kept hurting her.  Why?

Lauren:  I don’t think Michael really realized how much Chloe was helping him until it was too late and he’d driven her away. He was so entrenched in his own pity party that he couldn't see that she was offering a helping hand over and over again. And he was taking it, even though he didn’t realize it!

Rad-Reader:  I like how you applied the Big Beautiful Woman aspect to the storyline.  Yet, you showed how painful it could be in subtle ways with the acknowledgements made in facial looks.  Is that why you had Michael ask to train her for conditioning, with healthier eating, and no scales?

Lauren:  Yes, one-hundred percent, I didn’t want this to be about a “fat” heroine getting skinny to get the guy. But at the same time, bigger women are underrepresented in romance novels, and I really wanted to write a character that wasn’t the typical tall/thin that we see so much. I wanted to tell Chloe’s journey towards a healthy body she could be proud of without making it about this girl that all of a sudden got skinny and then had all the boys chasing her. It was a tricky balance, but I hope I got close ;)
Rad-Reader:  I would have to say you did.  I loved the no scale part and being healthier.  There are a lot of BBW’s out there that do tons of physical things and eat right and nothing really changes for them.  They are never skinny enough.  Well you know family history makes a difference.  This was just a nice way for her to make her own difference that she in the end didn’t let him derail her either.

Rad-Reader:  How did you relate to Chloe’s emotions on feeling an outcast due to her weight?

Lauren:  If I’m going to be really honest here, I was one of those super lanky kids growing up, so I’ll admit I felt like an imposter trying to get Chloe’s mindset just right. That being said, in my mid-twenties I got to a point where I was eating too much (and not good-for-me stuff), and I kept going up a size … and up a size … and up again. So the one aspect of Chloe’s journey that I absolutely can identify with is that “being out of control.” I knew I was gaining weight, I knew I wasn’t at my best self, and honestly I was just tired and poor from having to continually buy bigger and bigger pants. But this went on for years before I hit the breaking point and decided to change my life. I went to the gym, I started watching my portions. I’m at my happy weight now, but gosh I wish I’d had a Michael St. Claire to get me there! 

Rad-Reader:  What struck me the most was the Ugly Duckling analogy.  When she is finally confronted with Devon’s shallowness and is hit with Michael’s fear.  How did you come up with the ending?  Because after this point I didn’t see that ending coming.

Lauren:  That was one of the hardest scenes to write; it was crucial for the Ugly Duckling theme to have Chloe emerge as “the swan” at some point, but I knew all along that I didn’t want it to be the hero (Michael) that finally saw her when she emerged … because he’d been the one seeing her all along—the one that liked her BEFORE. And then it sort of dawned on me that a guy who’d been dating Kristen for all those years (Devon) would be exactly the type of shallow, if mostly decent, guy who’d only be able to see Chloe’s inner beauty once her outer beauty matched it. Devon’s not a bad guy, just dense. But Chloe deserves more than a “not bad” guy, which leads her to Michael, only Michael’s a wreck, and … well I’ll stop there, for spoiler purposes ;)

Rad-Reader:  I liked how you allowed us to hear, see, and yet feel the emotion of each of the characters as things progressed in the story.  How were you able to get into that place and bring it out?

Lauren:  This may be too technical, but I find it’s much easier to get into your characters’ heads when you write in first person. I write in third person as well for some of my other books, and although I like them both equally, there’s a sort of rawness about first person … I always think of it as reading another person’s diary, where all of their vulnerabilities are just out there. That and Michael and Chloe were pretty noisy in my head, Chloe in particular :) It sounds sort of cliche, but I really do “hear” my characters talk, and more or less just transcribe whatever they’re rambling about.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play:

Chloe:  Whitney Thompson

Kristen:  Emily Bett Rickards

Devon:  Colton Haynes

Michael:  Tyler Hoechlin

Ethan:  Hunter Parrish

Olivia:  Kenzie Dalton


Lauren:

Chloe:  A bigger Jennifer Lawrence with curly hair — I never could find an actress whose hair was just like Chloe’s! Everyone straightens their curls!

Kristen:  Shelley Hennig

Devon:  Justin Hartley

Michael:  Theo James

Ethan:  (nobody) it pains me to say that I’ve NEVER been able to find my Ethan!

Olivia:  
Dianna Agron


Rad-Reader:  What song out now would best describe your book or would be a good theme song? 
Rad-Reader- When a Man Loves a Woman

Lauren:  ????

Rad-Reader:  What is your next book about?  When is your next book coming out? 

Lauren:  I have a few! The one that I think will most appeal to fans of CRUSHED is BLURED LINES, out in August. It’s a friends-to-lovers story, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. I also have the first in a series about officers in the NYPD out at the end of July that’s all sorts of juicy, sexy goodness!

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?

Lauren:  I have one paperback series that you can (hopefully) find in bookstores, and the cops series mentioned above will also be in paperback. But most of my books are digital-only, so all the major e-retailers; Kindle, Nook, etc.


Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers keep in touch with you?

Lauren:  I’m a huge email fan (lauren@laurenlayne.com). I actually can’t stand Facebook messenger, but I seem to be in the minority there, so I try to keep up with those messages as best I can. Facebook in general isn’t my jam. Twitter either. But I do love me some Instagram (https://instagram.com/_laurenlayne/) and definitely my newsletter, which you can sign up for at the bottom of (www.laurenlayne.com)

Lauren:  Thank you SO SO SO much for having me. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed answering interview questions more!



Rad-Reader:  I would like to thanks Lauren for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer all of our questions.  I am such a “FANGIRL!”  Especially with this book.  Being a girl who was overweight most of my life this book just spoke to me and this author did such a wonderful job of making it real.  She did it in a way that was gracious to the character Chloe but all her readers that are overweight. That just meant a lot to me. 
Thanks for not only making this so easy but so much fun and quieting my "FANGIRL."  Now you are part of the 1 Rad-Reader Family like it or not. Hahaha! :) 
Char

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