Welcome back to my second Coastal Magic Convention 2024 Featured Author Spotlight. This month, I'm featuring debut author Lisa Lin. Lisa not only writes multi-cultural romcoms that elicit both heartfelt tears as well laugh-out-loud humor but she's also a friend of many years.
Lisa Lin started reading romance when she was 13 and never looked back. After previous jobs in law and politics, she realized writer was the job meant for her. She believes in writing what she knows so her books contain witty characters, family relationships, and celebrates female friendships. An introvert to the core, she is addicted to Twitter, and prefers to spend her weekends in pajamas bingeing on Netflix. ha'
Hi, Lisa! Welcome back to The Romance Dish. It is so exciting to have you here as a Coastal Magic Convention Featured Author.
Thanks so much PJ! So thrilled to be here. It’s always a pleasure to be at The Dish-been a long time fan!
The first two books in your From Sunset Park, With Love series have been published this year. What should readers expect from The Year of Cecily and The Rachel Experiment?
Asian characters finding their HEAs! But also snappy witty banter (major Aaron Sorkin fan here), legal jokes (hey I gotta put that JD to use somehow), food (I’ve been accused of making readers hungry while reading my books to which I say #sorrynotsorry), and complicated family dynamics.
And Girl Squads. I love featuring friendships in my books, female friendships in particular. Romance tends to focus on romantic relationships for obvious reasons, but in my opinion, and personal experience, those aren’t the only relationships that are important and worthy of being explored.
Familial relationships and friendships also play an incredibly essential role in our lives and should be highlighted too. I know for me, my circle of girlfriends are invaluable and have gotten me through a lot of rough times. I don’t know what I’d do without them and I hope I never have to find out.
My writing friends have been lifesavers on my path to publication. They’ve held my hand, talked me off the ledge, kicked my butt when I needed it, and are always happier and more excited for me than I am for me.
Asian-American culture features predominantly in these stories. What was it like to write books so closely mirroring your own heritage? Are family members trying to figure out which characters are modeled after them?
It truly meant so much to me. Growing up, it was difficult and rare to find books with Asian characters or covers with people who looked like me or reflected my life or experience in any way . And when I did, it was a thrill. Representation is SO important y’all. And when I started reading romance, it was the same deal. It wasn’t until authors like Jeannie Lin, Courtney Milan, Sherry Thomas, etc. came along that things really began to change. I know I stand on the shoulders of giants and I am beyond grateful to all of them and all the other authors who put cracks in that ceiling for me. I am proud of being part of the effort to help Romancelandia live up to its mission statement of “HEAs for All” and it’s not a responsibility I take lightly. As Lyn Liao Butler said “It’s about time there are more of us out there.”
As for my family, I had a strict policy with family members who expressed interest in reading my books. “If you insist, you can buy and/or read my book. I can’t stop you, do what you want to do. But we shall never speak of it. It’ll be like it never happened.” So if they are wondering, they can keep wondering. ;)
I love the humor in your books, laughing out loud more than once while reading. How emotionally involved do you get during the creation of these stories? Do you find yourself experiencing the same emotions while writing that we do when reading?
This is a really interesting question and I had to think for a minute. First off, thank you for saying you enjoyed the humor in my books. Having someone say they laughed while reading my books lets me know I did my job right. Generally, I think I can compartmentalize pretty well when I write. It isn’t me waking up after a one night stand/night of debauchery because I forgot no good ever comes from tequila, it was Rachel. Cecily was the one locking horns with her mother and trying to hold on to her temper, not me. But like any author, there are elements of me and my own life in my books.
Cecily’s meeting with the genealogist and her feeling when she looked at her ancestor’s naturalization certificate and thinking about how different her life would be if they hadn’t come to America, and the great debt she owes likely reflects the feelings of many children of immigrants, me included. Rachel very much shares my awkward turtle and introvert tendencies. More than once I have gotten anxious and panicked over something I said that I was afraid had been taken the wrong way only for the other person to wonder what I was even talking about when I tried to apologize. No wonder Rachel and I are both baffled by people who like to people. But yes, I cringed along with Cecily when Judith told her she too understood the importance of a good sex life. I mean, who wouldn’t under those circumstances?? I cringed, then laughed HA ;)
This has been a year of firsts for you. First published novel. First author book signing. First time as a CMC Featured Author. Has your debut year been what you expected? What have you learned? Any surprises along the way?
Like I mentioned above, I’m extremely fortunate to have phenomenal author friends who are a few steps ahead of me on their publishing journey and they’ve shared their wisdom with me and gave me tips and a heads up on what to expect. That being said, there are still some things you can only understand after experiencing it first hand. For example, what it feels like to hold a copy of your book in your hand for the first time or how to deal with reviews, good and bad. One of the things I had to learn was how to promo my books and it’s been a steep learning curve for sure. How much is too much? How much is too little? How do I juggle promo while I’m editing the next book and drafting yet another one? Still working on that one.
At heart, I am still a voracious romance reader and lover who fangirls over her favorite authors. The transition to the author side of the equation has been a bit surreal to say the least. This past summer I attended my first big romance reader/author event as an author and having readers come up to my table at the signing to tell me they’ve read and enjoyed my books was staggering and gratifying.
I have been blown away by how generous the romance community has been to me. Fellow writers, bloggers, readers, have all been so kind and supportive. So many congratulated me and supported me when I announced my deal back in July of 2021 and boosted and spread the word when Cecily and Rachel released. Fellow authors welcomed me into the fold and treated me like one of their own. To give just one example, I did my first author event in NYC at Yu and Me Books right after Cecily released. I was so nervous and terrified no one would show up and I’d face an empty store alone. But Lyn Liao Butler agreed to moderate the event and do a Q&A with me, and Priscilla Oliveras, Alexis Daria, and Maya Rodale all came to support me. I will love all of them forever for that. All I know is I am beyond grateful and I have a lot of paying forward to do.
As a debut author you may be a bit of a mystery to readers so let’s talk about you a bit.
What are your passions (aside from writing, of course)?
I was a political science and history major in college and politics and history are huge passions of mine. The West Wing is my most favorite show EVER and I loved the Medici mini-series and The Crown on Netflix. My friend Susannah Erwin and I just finished the Diplomat and it ticked ALL my boxes. I also love food-my dad always used to tease/joke that while some people eat to live, I live to eat. And…no lies detected, lol.
What would readers be surprised to learn about you?
As a pandemic project, I decided to use Duolingo to learn/improve my French. I’m currently on a 868 day streak and I’m probably prouder of it than I should be.
What is the top travel destination on your bucket list?
Oh there are so many. But Ireland has to be at the top of the list. Nora Roberts wass my gateway to romance, and many of her books are set there. Nora’s love for the land and people shine through on every page, and I want to pop into an Irish pub, listen to traditional music, and learn to dance a jig. I’ve also always wanted to travel south of the Equator so Australia is on my bucket list as well.
What are you currently reading or looking forward to reading?
I’m about to start Xio Axelrod’s Love on the Byline and I just know I’m going to devour it in one sitting. A second chance romance with a journalist heroine and hero who’s the personal assistant to a Hollywood star who have to fight their growing attraction when she’s assigned to do an in depth interview on said star. Need I say more??
I’m also looking forward to the next book in Felicia Grossman’s Once Upon the East End series. Felicia is one of my favorite romance authors and she writes fantastic historicals with Jewish protagonists. Book 1, Marry Me By Midnight (her take on Cinderella) came out last month and I can’t wait for Wake Me Most Wickedly, which comes out April 2024. Felicia’s spin on Snow White is bound to be amazing and y’all should also go pre-order it now.
What are your must-have drinks and/or snacks while writing?
Vino is crucial when writing *those* scenes. Julie James gave me that tip years ago and thank goodness for it. Maybe someday, writing sex scenes will be a less awkward out-of-body experience but today is not that day, lol. Other than that, I don’t have any essential drinks or snacks when I’m writing, though I have been known to reward/bribe myself with an ice cream sandwich or cupcake, or brownie, etc. after I’ve met my daily word count.
When will your next book be released? Are you able to tell us anything about it?
The final book in the From Sunset Park, with Love series will be out April 10, 2024. The title is Bethany Meets Her Match and features Jeffrey’s little sister Bethany Lee, who readers meet in The Year of Cecily. When Bethany showed up on the page in Cecily, I fell in love with her immediately and knew she’d have to get her own book eventually. What can I tell you about the book? Hmm. Well, the love interest I paired her with is also a doctor and they butt heads right off the bat. There’s a dumpling making contest, Bethany’s neighbor has a precocious daughter who steals the show, and there may or may not be a Guess Who game that goes awry. And expect more family drama, food, and banter. I’m excited to share Bethany’s story with readers and have them get to know her better.
Where can readers find you online?
I am @laforesta1 on Instagram, Twitter, and Bluesky (though I’m on Twitter less these days). I’m LisaLinBooks on Facebook.
My website is www.lisalinbooks.com.
Thanks for visiting with us today, Lisa. I’m excited to see you in Daytona Beach next February for Coastal Magic Convention 2024. Before we wrap this up, do you have any questions for the Romance Dish readers?
As a new/new-ish author, I’d love to know-how do you discover new to you authors? What will entice you to give a new/debut author a shot? The cover? Back blurb? Reviews? Personal recs from trusted friends or family? A mention from a fav author? Let me know below.
Lisa has also offered a giveaway today. One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, September 29 will receive a signed copy of The Year of Cecily and The Rachel Experiment.
*Must be 18