Lauren Ho is a reformed legal counsel who now prefers to write for pleasure. Hailing from Malaysia, she is currently based in Singapore, where she's ostensibly working on her next novel while attempting to parent. She is also the author of Last Tang Standing Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
In this post, Lauren discusses combining heavier themes with laugh-out-loud humor in her new contemporary romance novel, Lucie Yi is Not a Romantic, what she hopes readers get from the experience, and more!
Name: Lauren Ho
Literary agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary Management
Book title: Lucie Yi is Not a Romantic
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release date: June 21, 2022
Genre/category: General Fiction/Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy/Women’s Fiction
Previous titles: Last Tang Standing
Elevator pitch for the book: Having given up on finding Mr. Right and yearning for children, a 37-year-old single career woman from Singapore living in New York uses an elective co-parenting platform to match with Mr. Right Enough for the job. They get pregnant and return to Singapore, but when feelings develop and family weigh in, things get messy.
What prompted you to write this book?
I was inspired by the experiences of friends who had chosen to take non-traditional routes to parenthood and the anecdotes of strangers who I interviewed for the book. I’d also been following the elective co-parenting phenomenon for some time out of personal interest, and I wanted to explore how a woman from a background like mine, culturally and socio-economically, would navigate such an arrangement.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
It took about a year and eight months from conception to publication (the actual writing probably took about 10 months, not including revisions).
I explored heavier themes than I had set out to write initially, including pregnancy loss and grief. I really wanted to challenge the general presumption that romance, in the sense that my book is also considered a contemporary romance, should not deal with “heavy” subject matters—in this respect, I was inspired by Abby Jimenez and Hellen Hoang, especially Helen Hoang’s excellent women’s fiction/romance crossover novel, The Heart Principle.
Yet in spite of the serious themes, I think I’m a humorous writer (I performed as an amateur stand-up comic in Singapore for two years, bombing often and spectacularly), and I’d like to think I can make people laugh even when the context is serious. I set myself a challenge of creating a complex protagonist who might not be very “likeable” from the outset and made it my goal to really make her appealing to the reader as the story progressed. I mean, Kirkus Reviews called her “lovably hilarious!” An endearing tax management consultant! Surely that’s no mean feat …
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
This being my sophomore novel, I felt I had more pressure to write well. I’m my own worst critic, so I was surprised that I was better able to let go this time of my manuscript (no deadlines were too badly harmed in the process). I guess I’ve learned that there’s no perfect manuscript.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
I would say that the loveliest thing about being a published author is when you approach perfect strangers for their take on things and they open up to you and trust that you will do their story justice. Time is precious, and I appreciate everyone who contributed to this book with their expertise and their truths.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
That it’s OK to fight for your version of happiness, even if the people that you care for in your life hate it.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
I have a lot of good general writing advice for would-be novelists, including approaching it like you would any job and setting writing goals/schedules, but I think the most important piece of advice I have is this: You do you.
You can’t please everyone, and if you allow yourself to be swayed by online opinion or casual critics, you will lose what makes you unique in the first place. Guard your flame.