A Q&A with Kaitlyn Hill, author of "Not Here to Stay Friends"!
Dishing on books, advice, and fave Bachelor Nation peeps
Today I’m delighted to share a Q&A I did with author Kaitlyn Hill, a Kentucky-based YA romance writer whose books I’ve been reading and loving for a few years now. I’m lucky to consider Kaitlyn a friend (not one I’ve ever met, but one I’ve gotten to know through the internet, lol), and I was so excited when she agreed to answer a few questions for this newsletter in light of her upcoming book release.
Not Here to Stay Friends follows besties Sloane and Liam during a summer when Liam is working as a PA on a celebrity dating show, and Sloane gets roped into being a contestant. Except tension begins to mount as the two childhood best friends begin to realize their feelings for each other may be more than just platonic…
I read an advance version of the book last fall and was totally swept up in the story. It was everything I needed and wanted it to be, delightfully dramatic, swoony, and hilarious, as all Kaitlyn Hill books tend to be. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Q&A!
What drew you to writing, especially YA romance?
I’ve always loved storytelling, and always really loved love stories. It took me a long time to put the two together and realize that I enjoyed the writing piece of things, too! I wrote a little fanfiction in high school, but didn’t think of it as a serious thing and didn’t even tell most people in my life. I also read for fun a decent amount in middle and high school, lots of YA romance and YA stories of the Girls Being Badass variety a la Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls.
But it didn’t occur to me that writing stories like that was a legitimate thing I could do, a real career path that real people have, until the end of college. After a few years only reading and writing academic things, I got back into reading popular fiction my senior year, catching up on some YA I’d missed and delving a little into romances and mysteries. It was like a lightbulb came on, all the pieces of my life along the way lining up at once to show me that I’d always loved stories and storytelling, and what if I gave myself permission to give telling my own stories a real try? YA romance was what I’d read the most of by that point, and I’m still so drawn to stories of first love and all the beauty and mess that comes with it.
What was an inspiration behind NHTSF?
As you’ve already gathered (lol), my obsession with the Bachelor franchise 😂 and reality dating shows in general! But I’ve watched Bachelor and Bachelorette for way too many years, and toyed with the idea of doing a YA version for a long time but thought surely no one would let me publish that. But my editor, a fellow Bach fan, was all for it, so here we are! I’ve also always loved scripted teen dramas (One Tree Hill 4evr) and thought it would be fun to do a sort of crossover with that genre, in the form of the reality show’s star, Aspen Woods, and his fictional scripted teen drama The Cove.
Karis aside: the hints at the scripted teen drama Kaitlyn made up for her book, The Cove, were some of the most utterly delightful and wildly unhinged parts of this book — I adored them!
Who's your favorite Bachelor Nation person, and why?
Ooooh this is a tough one and I have too many but I’ll just share a couple. It’s funny because the two that immediately come to mind—Ashley Spivey and Rachel Lindsay—are a past Bachelor contestant and Bachelorette, respectively, who have distanced themselves from the franchise. And for very legit reasons! The show is problematic AF! I critique it a lot and also wrestle with questions of why I still watch, etc, but that’s a complex topic for another day 🙃
Anyway—Ashley was on Brad Womack’s season over a decade ago and now she’s more of a general, influencer-y person who does a lot of good with her platform. She advocates for a lot of important issues, and runs an amazing online book community (Spivey’s Book Club), promoting books she loves and doing a lot to support authors!
Rachel was an amazing Bachelorette, not just because she was the first woman of color in the role, though I can only imagine the pressure she felt there. She’s just always had her shit together, knows who she is and what she deserves, and has turned her reality TV stint into a successful journalism career. Also, she’s still married to her final guy, which is so rare 😂
What was the best part of the writing process for this book?
Probably making up fake quotes and ridiculous plot points for The Cove—that was basically just me combing through the archives of all the most absurd things that have happened in my favorite teen dramas and cracking myself up. I also loved writing Sloane and Liam’s developing romance! I hadn’t done friends to lovers before, and it’s funny how different it feels from the enemies/rivals to lovers of my first book while also needing to maintain that tension. I’ll always love playing with romance tropes!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I know this is the most #basic advice, but reeeead widely, diversely, and also extensively within the genre(s) in which you want to write! Reading was and continues to be my best writing education. And believe it or not, knowing what’s currently popular in your genre/age group already puts you ahead of the game when it comes to the practical side of the path to publication, like thinking of comp titles for your idea/pitch and eventually querying a manuscript.
Agents/editors don’t want to get the impression right off the bat that the most recent YA contemporary you’ve read is The Outsiders, because that’s your only comp title. Not only do you want to learn from all the great YA being published today, but you want to show that you stay relevant, you know what is marketable and selling right now, and publishing professionals should keep reading past your query to see how great you are!
Can you rec 2-3 books you’ve read & loved recently?
HAPPY TO! Something Wild & Wonderful by Anita Kelly is a gorgeous queer adult romance set on the Pacific Crest Trail, and I loved it to pieces. I also listened to the audio while working on my YA romance set on the Appalachian Trail, so it not only made me want to cry because it was so beautiful, but because my ugly first draft of its YA counterpart looked way uglier by comparison lolll.
I’m also in the middle of The Sister Split by Auriane Desombre, and oh my god, the reverse-Parent-Trap, middle grade cuteness!!! I’m obsessed. And for a YA romance (because of course), Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino. It comes out this summer and you all MUST check it out, because it’s a completely adorable and funny contemporary about a Deaf girl exploring her identity and first love at a Deaf summer camp!
And that’s the end of the Q&A! I hope y’all enjoyed this peek into the wonderful brain of Kaitlyn Hill, one of my faves! If you did, and if you’re intrigued by the sound of Not Here to Stay Friends, be sure to check it out and preorder before it comes out THIS TUESDAY. I’m so stoked and can’t wait to get my copy in my hands!
I loved this book so much! Bachelor-style novels are possibly my favorite genre lol