Love, Hate, and Why I Write

Valentin Antonucci
I'm nothing if not unconventional. I tend to do things backwards, inside out, sideways… When given the traditional path or something else, guess which way I'll go? I don't know if it's a quirk in my biochemistry or that I prefer to eat my pie from the crust to the middle, but that's how I roll—or bite as the case may be. And it's no different with my writing life.
Years and years ago, I started with screenplays and picture books then dove into young adult fantasy fiction, took a new adult detour, returned to young adult fiction—paranormal, then contemporary, then fantasy, then back to contemporary…

In between the writing and publication of Sugar (and then Pearl) I also tried my hand at middle grade and then back to young adult (I always return to my home in YA). To date have written and completed over fifty manuscripts. Do you see a pattern here?


That's because there isn't one.

So why do I write what I write?

I write what I want to read and to answer the inspiration and story ideas given to me. (Where do they come from? Beats me—though Elizabeth Gilbert and Steven Pressfield offer valuable insight.)

More concretely, I write because I feel the need to connect the dots between what I'm feeling and the big picture—the universal, the you and me

To bridge the feeling of loneliness with the knowledge that we're linked. 

To bring a world beyond what is at our doorstep or in our kitchen or on the screen to inky life. 

To remind myself and everyone else that we're not the sum of who we've been told we are. We get to define ourselves. We're bigger and bolder and brighter than we could ever imagine. 

It's through fiction that I find courage and strength and possibility. I uncover magic and love and light. I discover that it's you and me not us and them.

In Sugar, a young adult contemporary novel, I told the story of the heroine who was told she was too much yet not enough. She found her more than enough and set the world alight with her courage.

Pearl was dealt a crappy hand, had a grim home life, but was given a way out. Even though she proved human and made mistakes, she forged her own way forward, breaking the abusive and addiction riddled cycles of the past.

In my new adult series, Follow your Bliss, each of the main characters takes a long look in the mirror and decides to define life on her terms and have fun while doing it.

In Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told, a romantic comedy, Navy is lost, but finds herself—and love—in books, romantic fiction with book boyfriends to be exact. Her best friend urges her to come out from the pages and live more by daring her to go on a series of dates leading up to Valentine's Day. Navy ultimately goes along with the plan and experiences a series of sexy, unfortunate, exhausting, and bizarre encounters that she documents on her blog. Not the least of which is with her nemesis, Carrick, who she successfully avoided for years. But he's like an itch, one she resists scratching until he reveals the truth about who he is and what he's been doing for the last decade. But Navy has secrets of her own and it's not until she learns to trust again that she lets the people who care most about her into her life and steps out of her box (aka her tiny studio apartment in Manhattan).

I think the beating heart of this book is that despite the main character feeling betrayed and alone, there's an underpinning of interconnectedness she discovers when she reaches out, stretches past her comfort zone, and turns up the volume on her life.

This storyline came to me in the form of the main character going on a series of dates that aren't Instagram worthy. Well, Bash's dinners are ;-) but the rest, well, they're certainly blog worthy disasters. I wanted to integrate the dating aspect and the quest for love in a more mature way than I felt I could portray in YA, while leading the story with humor and heart. 

The best vehicle, one I hadn't yet attempted, was women's romantic comedy.

I'm a big fan of Alice Clayton, Emily Giffin, and more recently Sally Thorne. The books by these authors have depth, but also feel like a little escape into someone else's drama and reliably have a happy ending, which I'm all for! So I took a chance. More than anything, I feel like we can all use some more love in our lives as well as comic relief and an escape, at least for the space of 300-plus pages.

I hope you'll join me for the twisting, turning, plot-twisting ride.

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