Christina Lauren Explore the Misadventures of Online Dating

Posted by Marie on December 4, 2018
Christina Lauren
The course of love—and online dating—doesn't quite run smooth in Christina Lauren's latest romantic comedy. In My Favorite Half-Night Stand Millie Morris makes a pact with her inner circle of guy friends–slash–work colleagues: Join an online dating app to find their plus-one so they can avoid going to their university's biggest annual party as a group. As one of the men in Millie's posse puts it, "This isn't prom."

Each one of them can be considered a catch, even if their busy schedules as professors keep them from finding other fish in the sea. Then there's Millie: a lovable, walking disaster. She tries online dating for laughs but ends up matching with Reid—who's not only one of her guy friends, but her very best friend.

Here to talk about the modern dating scene are coauthors Christina Hobbs and Lauren "Lo" Billings, the besties who share the byline for many fan-favorite contemporary romances. They spoke to Goodreads by phone about the love interests in their book and the research that brought their story to life. They also shared a few details about upcoming projects, including their screen adaptation of Roomies.

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Goodreads: What's a "half-night stand" for our readers who might not know?

Lauren Billings: [Laughs] So instead of a one-night stand, where you hook up with somebody and they leave in the morning, a half-night stand is when someone leaves once the sex is over. It's a more specific phrase. I feel like that's what a lot of dating lingo is: putting a finer point on things that have been happening forever.

GR: Why did you decide to write a romance about online dating?

Christina Hobbs: Times are changing. This is how people meet. Lo and I met online. So many people meet online. This was something we hadn't done yet, and it just felt like the next logical thing for us to do. Plus, all of our friends are doing online dating, and we feel for them.

LB: It's a rough world out there.

GR: What fun research did you both get to do?

LB: Christina and I have both been married for years. My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years, and Christina and her husband have been married for something like 23 years. So neither of us wanted to join an app in a fake-account capacity. Also, it would feel unfair if we matched with somebody who didn't know we were authors doing research.

But we have this Facebook group CLo and Friends with over 3,000 members. We went to that group and said, "Look you guys, we are doing research for this book and we are old married folk. Can you share some of your favorite apps, how they work, some of your best experiences, some of your worst experiences, and any other stories you would want to share." They gave us a real rich research pool to draw from. It made the book feel more authentic, I think.

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GR: Which of their stories stood out to you?

LB: One of my favorites is a girl who matched with her brother. She said, "I know it's not true, but I feel like he's seen me in my underwear now." There were a lot of stories like that where people have matched with ex-boyfriends or cousins, that kind of thing. Those are the funny side.

Then there's people who've met their husband or wife and that was really amazing. Then there's a darker side. Someone's friend matches with someone else's husband or the guy they were dating turned out to be married. That one was also, unfortunately, a very common thread.

GR: Is the dating app IRL in your book fictional?

CH: Yes! We did a lot of research on different ones and came up with a list of all the ones we liked and the ones we thought were crazy. But the app in the book is something we made up.

LB: We also wanted to work with something that could give us that fictional license we were looking for.

GR: At some point, Millie rewrites the dating profiles of each of her guy friends. Not to give each of them a false persona, but to really bring out what makes them special. It's pretty fascinating how well she knows them.

LB: I'm glad that you brought that up because I feel that gives us great insight into Millie. She pays attention so clearly and carefully, but she has such a hard time letting other people see that real side of her.

She knows more in those paragraphs about those guys than they probably do about her in many ways. So she's got a good heart. She's just really bad at opening up.

GR: Emotional intimacy seems really hard for her. Like you mentioned, it's difficult for her to be honest about her feelings. Do you think dating apps can help people with that problem?

LB: I think so because I feel like it's easier to be super real with somebody when you don't have to show your face. But this can be good and bad! We've found that when we've made friends with people online, sometimes those friendships move so fast.

I feel like a lot of that is because there's a false sense of intimacy that happens when you're communicating with somebody through a computer or phone and you really feel like you know them well, but you don't. You see what they want to show you.

GR: Early on in the book, Millie matches with her best friend Reid. What's attractive about writing best friends falling in love? What are the challenges?

LB: I think the lure of that as an author is that you get to see two people who know each other really well genuinely fall in love. It's not infatuation at first sight. They already know each other's good and bad side, and they still fall in love despite that. That's a really fun trope for us.

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GR: What was the most fun thing to write about their relationship?

CH: One thing that I love about them is that normally it's the guy who's not in touch with his feelings, but here it's completely swapped. So I really liked that it's Reid who's trying all these things and hoping that Mille can open up when typically in books and movies, it's almost always the opposite.

GR: Why did you decide to write them that way?

CH: It's funny because Millie and Reid are kind of like Lo and I in some ways, where Lo is very much in touch with her feelings. She wants to talk about everything and stuff, and I tend to be more "Uhhhh..." So it was a really interesting experience writing Millie. The whole time I was like, "Oh my God, this is a little too real for me."

LB: Yeah, but I think it's also fun. There's a whole conversation in romance that's been going on for a long time about "the unlikable heroine." You know, some of the reasons why people don't like a female character is because she's difficult or she doesn't make the path easy for the hero, and I think that pisses us off a little bit. That should be a burden that falls on both genders equally. And so I think being able to tell a story about a woman being human and flawed is a lot of fun.

GR: Millie and Reid are also part of a very close-knit circle of friends, too. Why did you decide to include that dynamic?

LB: We love writing the ensemble. We're also aware—as two women with very happy marriages and a very good business partnership—that those kinds of solid relationships don't happen in isolation. If you don't have a good network of people in your life, if the only thing you have is your relationship and it's just the two of you navel-gazing about how much you love each other, that ultimately is not a very healthy relationship.

So I think being able to write about a community that's there while this relationship is forming and is supportive of that relationship and helps it actively grow—I mean, for us that's part of the luxury.

CH: Wow. That was a good answer, Lo! I was just going to add that it's very telling that her group of friends is all men. Because at some point in the book we mention that a group of women would never put up with this level of superficial stuff. We also really loved writing a group dynamic in series books, but you really don't get a lot of that in standalones. So it was really fun to revisit that.

GR: We spent a lot of time talking about My Favorite Half-Night Stand. But CLo fans are also eager to know more about the adaptation of your other book, Roomies, which you'll be writing the screenplay for. Can you share any details about that?

LB: The process of working on the film has been so amazing. It almost doesn't feel like real life. Almost a year ago, Roomies appeared in an Entertainment Weekly issue during its release, and that was where Jenna Dewan saw it.

She took it to her producing partner Jean Song, and they took it to Andy Fickman, who's directed a lot of fun movies like She's the Man and Anaconda. He's also done a lot of Broadway stuff, like producing Heathers at the West End, and because there's a huge Broadway component in Roomies, they thought he would be a good fit. And it's just been this really perfect relationship.

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CH: It feels so unreal. Especially when Andy talks about it. I would love Andy to be my hype man for anything because he's so animated and you can tell he loves it so much. I just cannot wait.

GR: Any hints about upcoming projects you have in the works?

LB: So we have a book out next May, and we can tell you that it's called the Unhoneymooners. And it is such a fun book. I swear to God, this book makes us laugh out loud every single time we open it.

The story is about a woman named Olive. She's the twin of a woman who's getting married at the beginning of the book. Olive's sister Amy is the go-getter, the lucky one, and she is always the winner. By contrast, Olive has always felt like the loser. But this is where her luck turns because she's allergic to shellfish and is one of the only people who don't eat the seafood buffet at the wedding, while everyone gets super sick.

So Olive and one other person, her archnemesis, are convinced to take the honeymoon because it was won in a sweepstakes and it'll be lost if they don't take it, so they both agree. It was a really fun, fun book to write, and their dynamic is just hysterical.

GR: What books would you recommend to our readers?

LB: For historical romance, we always recommend Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, and I also just read The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham, and it's so superb. For contemporary, of course, we like to recommend our own books, but we also highly recommend The Kiss Quotient. The Bride Test comes out next year, and I managed to get an early copy and can honestly say it was one of my favorite books of 2018.

Also, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. She also has another book coming out in January called 99 Percent Mine, and that's a great one, too. And then for paranormal romance, we always recommend Kresley Cole's Immortal After Dark series because it's so addicting.

CH: And I've been reading Michelle Obama's new book, Becoming, which I've been shoving into everyone's hands.

Christina Lauren's My Favorite Half-Night Stand is now available. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Gisela (new)

Gisela I love them so much! Every time I read a book of theirs I'm like.. this is my new favorite.. and then they come out with another one!!!

message 2: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Fuqua Same @Gisela

message 3: by Bren (new)

Bren It's fun to learn things about a author or in this case authors you wouldn't get from a book they've written. I enjoy their books immensely. Thank you ladies for sharing.

message 4: by Sharlene (new)

Sharlene I just read this book last week! Loved it! Loved Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, too. And Roomies is so, so good! I hope they get a really cute guy to play Calvin! I love him so much! Thanks for the interview!

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