Robin Constantine is a born-and-raised Jersey girl who moved south so she could wear flip-flops year-round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, eventually, but not without a lot of peril, angst, and the occasional kissing scene. The Promise of Amazing is her first novel.
The Poetics Project: Describe your book in ten words or less.
Robin Constantine: Fun, flirty, teenage romp about the redemptive power of love.
TPP: How hard is it to write romance into a young adult novel? What advice would you give aspiring authors about writing romance?
RC: Writing is hard work but I happen to enjoy writing romantic scenes – so much so that they are usually the first scenes that come to mind when I start a new story. As both a reader and a writer I’m fascinated by character connections and interactions – what makes certain people drawn to each other. I mostly write from a humorous perspective so whenever it feels like something I’m working on might be getting too hot and heavy, I instill a little awkwardness into it. I think this is important when writing romance for young adults – to remember that first encounters (flirting, kissing or more) are far from perfect.
As far as advice – I would say be fearless. Some people find romantic scenes awkward to write, or worry that maybe if they go too far it might put some people off. You have to write what feels right to you without that fear. (Forget about your parents, friends or neighbors!) And have fun with it!! No one needs to see your first draft!
TPP: A lot of reviewers loved Wren and Grayson as individuals and said that they were realistic. How did you go about creating your characters? Is there a process you use when developing your characters?
RC: I mostly “hear” my characters in my head. Wren started talking to me one day in jury duty and I jotted down a couple of notes, which eventually became the first scene in the novel. It might sound a little crazy but listening is a huge part of how I create characters when I first start working on a project.
Grayson was a secondary character in another novel that I had to scrap but I loved him – he kept on taking over any scene he was in, so it seemed like he wanted a story of his own. When I put him together with Wren, I felt like I had something that was definitely spark-worthy. I think both of them are looking to develop and strengthen qualities that they find in the other. For Wren, she’s drawn to Gray’s ability to speak his mind and live out loud, for Gray, he’s drawn to Wren’s calm and quiet confidence. I think they both see the best in each other, which may seem naïve at times.
I usually find out who my characters are by putting them in certain situations and seeing how they will react. Sometimes, if I’m feeling stuck I might interview a character or just for fun do one of those fill in the blank character sketches, but mostly, if I just get quiet and listen, they are there to be discovered.
TPP: Looking through reviews of The Promise of Amazing on Goodreads, a lot of people are calling Wren and Grayson’s relationship “insta-love” and the the “L-word” came out too fast. Was it your intention to have this Romeo and Juliet love-at-first-sight? Is it a part of Wren and Grayson’s personalities that create this instant bond between the two?
RC: The relationship between Wren and Grayson is absolutely meant to be a sweet shot of adrenaline. They meet under dramatic circumstances and this sets the framework for their liaison. The term insta-love implies there’s a right way and a wrong way to fall for someone. Love is subjective. Some people fall hard and fast, others fall gradually, while others need to get knocked over the head to see what’s right in front of them – that doesn’t mean one is better or more real than the other.
Under dramatic circumstances – such as saving someone’s life – emotions are heightened. I think starting the relationship at this point definitely gives it more speed than if Wren and Grayson met another way. As for the “L” word – Love is a word used to describe strong emotions. Having someone say “I like you immensely” or “I feel so strongly about you in this moment” doesn’t have the same impact as I love you. As a writer I have to ask myself in each scene “what is the riskiest thing that could happen now”. (spoiler alert!) When Grayson tells Wren how he feels, it’s the riskiest thing for him to do in that moment because it’s truly coming from him, not some game he’s playing. He even acknowledges that it’s too soon. They both do actually, but when you are swept up in a delicious moment, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in it. I wanted to be true to that experience.
TPP: What do you want readers to take away from your book?
RC: One of the themes in my book is not to let your past define you – so I would love a reader to take away the fact that even though you might make mistakes you can always find a way to overcome them and forge a new path. Oh, and not to take a date ice-skating if you really don’t know what you’re doing. 😉
TPP: Name 2-3 songs that could be included in a soundtrack to your book (can be songs that inspired portions of your writing).
Maybe, Tonight – Nicole Atkins
Howlin’ for You – The Black Keys
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
Thank you for having me!!