One Interview with One Rebellious Romance Writer

One Interview with One Rebellious Romance Writer
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BB Easton is the best-selling author of 44 Chapters About 4 Men, a memoir-esque romance novel that details her love life from high school to the present—married with children. Easton surprised the romance world with her humor and candor with a book that both entertains and moves the reader. She writes a heroine to whom all readers can relate. Skin, Easton’s second novel is the full story of her relationship with her first boyfriend, a reluctant skinhead with violent tendencies and a hidden warm heart.

MW: What made you decide you wanted to write romance? Was there any particular writer or works that inspired you?

BB: My mom was actually my romance drug dealer. (Awkward, I know.) In 2013 she forced me to read the Fifty Shades trilogy and I’ve been hooked ever since. I had a new baby at the time, so I began devouring romance novels on my Kindle app to pass the time during those endless late-night feedings. After few months I had this bolt of lightning epiphany. “I know these guys,” I thought. “I dated these guys. All of them. The tattooed bad boy, the rock star, the motorcycle club outlaw, the sexy-yet-emotionally-unavailable hunk in the suit…I could write these books and not even have to use my imagination!” So now I do.

MW: You were a school psychologist before you took this path, did that knowledge and experience help you get in touch with your own high school experience?

BB: Actually, I think it was my high school experience that made me want to become a school psychologist. I saw the need for mental and behavioral health services in schools first hand, and it really motivated me to get involved. But teenagers are the worst, so I stuck to working with elementary schoolers.

MW: Your books are romance novels, yet you fictionalize your teenage self. Do you consider what you write creative nonfiction? How do you describe and what do you call it?

BB: UGH. Choosing a genre label to slap on my work is like trying to find my name on a souvenir shot glass in a Panama City Beach gift shop. It’s never there, so I have to choose the lesser of eight-five evils or leave empty-handed. I usually end up settling on my middle name, or a nickname that nobody knows about because I just gave it to myself, or generic one that says, “BEACH B*TCH.” I’m currently published under a mess of categories including Personal Memoir, Relationship Humor, Romantic Comedy, Twentieth Century Historical Romance, and Coming of Age, but if I could create my own genre I would probably call it, “Creative Autobiographical Romance With a Twist.”

MW: How do the real people who are fictionalized in your work react to it? Do they know? Do you let them read it?

BB: Oh, no. They are never to find out. I actually had dinner a few weeks ago with one of my exes (the rock star I mentioned earlier) and the guys from his old band. When they asked me what I was up to these days I think I choked on my Jameson and ginger, then blushed and sputtered something about being a stay-at-home mom. I had to practically clamp my hands over my mouth the whole night to keep from blurting out, “I lied! I wrote an Amazon bestseller and all of you are in it! I’m sorry! Please don’t sue me!”

MW: Do you see yourself branching out in the future? Moving toward fiction without the memoire?

BB: I hope to, once I’m done with the 44 Chapters novels, but the idea is terrifying. What I do now feels like renovating an old house with a good floor plan and no asbestos. The story is already there. I lived it. I just have to polish it up and breathe new life into it. The idea of writing full-on fiction feels more like being blindfolded, dumped in the middle of a corn field with nothing but a hammer and a ham sandwich, and being told to build a mansion.

MW: I’m guessing the general consensus after reading your books would be that you were a rebellious teenager. Is that a fair assessment? Is there a message or a lesson we can take away from the rebellious, adolescent BB?

BB: “Rebellious” is a badge I wear with pride. Rebellion, for me, is about choosing to do/say/wear what feels right for you, even when it isn’t popular. I think, on some level, that’s what we all strive for. We all want to stop worrying about what other people think and just be ourselves, but it’s scary. Women are judged so harshly in our society that we find ourselves conforming just to avoid the bitter sting of disapproval. I think that’s what women like most about my books. They get to connect with their inner badass—the girl inside who, once upon a time, was brave enough to rebel. Maybe she dyed her hair purple or pierced her own belly button in tenth grade. Maybe she made-out with a bad boy behind the bleachers. Maybe she’s feeling stifled in her role as a mom/wife/employee and is ready to dust off those Doc Martens and go kick some ass again.

MW: There are four books planned for the 44 Chapters series. Can you tell me a little bit about each book and what readers can expect from them?

BB: Absolutely! My first book, 44 Chapters About 4 Men, is a comedic memoir that chronicles the year I spent trying psychologically manipulate my cold, introverted “husbot” into being a more amorous, emotionally-available partner. The only psychological tactic I found that actually seemed to work was writing steamy stories about my ex-boyfriends in a “secret journal” and leaving it out for my husband to find. It worked so well, in fact, that I began testing the limits, writing more and more exaggerated stories to see just how far I could push him. The results were sexy and hilarious, and when the book was finished I simply wasn’t ready to let those characters go. I decided to write a spin-off romance series and give each of the four men in 44 Chapters his own book.

The first book in the 44 Chapters series, SKIN, was just released on February 2. It’s about my first serious boyfriend—a psychotic, violent, broken skinhead named Knight who isolated me from my friends and eventually intimidated and coerced me into a relationship with him. The reader walks hand-in-hand with a fifteen-year-old BB as she finds herself falling in love with a seemingly unloveable man. This book takes on a much grittier, more intense tone than 44 Chapters and tackles a slew of tough subject matter, but the story is one hope and growth and redemption.

The next book in the series will be SPEED, a suspenseful romance about my second serious boyfriend, Harley—a tattooed, baby-faced ex-con who was nothing but trouble. Book three will be about my rock star ex-boyfriend (the one I had dinner with a few weeks ago), titled STAR. And book four, titled SUIT, will be the story of how I finally got past my bad boy phase and settled down with a good-looking, infuriating, smartass accountant. (Gasp!)

Wish me luck!

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