Jasmine Guillory is the author of the newly released romance novel, The Wedding Date. She joined us to talk about writing tips, must-read books, and her all-time favorite wedding songs. Enjoy!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
I’ve loved to read since I was a little girl, but I never thought about writing until about seven years ago. I’d been a lawyer for about eight years, and realized I needed a creative outlet in my life that had nothing to do with my job. I thought about writing and after talking to my writer friends (who were all super supportive) I dove in and started writing a book. I realized that all of the stories I’d been making up in my head for years were good practice!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Once I discovered how much fun I was having while I was writing. There are plenty of hard, frustrating, confusing moments while writing a book, but the great moments – the ones where everything works, or where I figure out a big plot question, or when I reread something I wrote and laugh out loud or tear up – those far outweigh the difficult parts. I loved writing so much I wanted to keep going.
How long did it take to finish your book? How has it changed since you first began writing it?
It took me almost a year to write and revise The Wedding Date, but that includes all of the revision that I did after I got notes from my agent, and more after I got notes from my editor, and still more in the final copyediting stages. The core of the book is the same from when I started writing it, but it’s a lot shorter than it was in the first draft! I always write way too long to start off with, and spend a lot of time cutting scenes that helped me figure out details about a character but aren’t particularly necessary for the plot.
Do you have any specific or strange writing rituals that get you into a groove?
This is a little weird, but it works for me: I set my stop watch on my phone when I start writing. It helps to keep me focused, in a sort of race against time kind of way, and if my mind starts to wander or I reach for my phone to procrastinate on social media, the stop watch reminds me that it’s writing time!
Which three books would you bring with you to a deserted island?
Betsy and the Great World, one of my favorite of the Betsy-Tacy books, and the traveling would make my deserted island setting feel particularly appropriate! The Warmth of Other Suns, a sprawling, fascinating, detailed history of the Great Migration, and one that taught me so much about America and myself; it’s so long that rereading it would keep me occupied for a while. And Sula, by Toni Morrison. I’ve loved every book of hers I’ve ever read, but I’ve been holding some back for when I need inspiration the most. I feel like deserted islands are the perfect places to read the books you’ve been wanting to read forever.
In your opinion, has there ever been a movie adaption better than the original book?
Maybe not better, but the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary was equally as fun as the book! But I try hard not to compare movies to books, especially not books that I love. I always hope when a movie gets made of a great book, it’s a way for people to discover and read the book!
Which three authors would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Barack Obama, Madeleine L’Engle (I choose to interpret this question as having “alive or dead” as part of it), and Meg Cabot. All three of them are amazing writers who I respect a great deal, and they’re all very different people and writers. I know I would learn a lot from them in a long conversation over dinner. (And maybe Barack would bring Michelle!)
Do you have any advice for young writers?
Don’t give up! Read all the time, in lots of different genres. You learn so much about writing and what kind of writer you want to be that way. Read books about writing to see how other writers do it, but remember that it’s not about what works for them, it’s about what works for you, so try out their advice, and if it doesn’t work for you, don’t try to force it. Take breaks when you need to, but always come back to your writing. Good luck!
What is your favorite thing that you have received in the mail?
My book! I got a box of finished copies from my publisher about a week ago and I burst into tears. Before that, my admissions letters for college and law school (both of those times, I think I screamed instead of crying).
If you had to make a music playlist for The Wedding Date, what would be on it?
Some of these songs are some of my favorite wedding songs and some of them were inspired by The Wedding Date.
Single Ladies – Beyoncé
Good as Hell – Lizzo
California Love – Tupac
Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
Crazy in Love – Beyoncé
Love on the Brain – Rihanna
Vision of Love – Mariah Carey
Q.U.E.E.N – Janelle Monae
At Last – Etta James
Woman – Kesha
Womanizer – Britney Spears
Raise Your Glass – P!nk
This Will Be (Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole
California Soul – Marvin Gaye
All of Me – John Legend
Worship – Lizzo
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
Wannabe – Spice Girls
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
Run the World (Girls) – Beyoncé
Lastly, what books do you recommend to fans of The Wedding Date?
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan: a fun and emotional romance about an American marrying a prince (timely!).
32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter: a great rom-com with lots of callbacks to one of my favorite movies as a teen, Sixteen Candles.
Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins: a sweeping historical romance set in California, with so many characters I adored.
Acute Reactions by Ruby Lang: two driven people accidentally fall in love, and I cheered for them the whole way.
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev: I loved every moment of this heartfelt novel and I cared so much about the characters I flew through it to see if they got a good ending.
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole: I think it’s impossible to read this fantastic book in any less than two days; it’s full of romance and adventure and my heart was in my throat for the last 30 pages.
Act Like it by Lucy Parker: A fake romance set in the world of theater! So much fun.
A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare: Two strong personalities collide in this hilarious and sexy romance, in a setting I frequently wish I could move to.
Deliver Me by Farrah Rochon: I love books set in New Orleans, and this romance does the city justice. And another fake romance! They’re the best.
It Happened One Wedding by Julie James: Both characters in this Chicago set romance are affecting, relatable, and infuriating, in turns. Such a fun read.
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