Marisa Kanter’s debut novel released out into the world on Tuesday, and I am so excited to talk with her about What I Like About You! Book bloggers are definitely going to want to pick this rom-com up!
Q&A with Marisa Kanter
Let’s kick off this interview with a little bit about the book—describe What I Like About You in five words.
A love letter to YA!
“Can a love triangle have only two people in it?” is such a fun tagline! Tell us about Halle, her online persona Kels, and Nash.
Halle Levitt is passionate about YA books and dreams of pursuing a career in publishing. She’s the daughter of semi-famous documentarians, and because of this she’s spent much of her live moving around and never had the stability to create and maintain close friendships in real life. She’s also socially anxious and a master stress-baker. While Halle has never found “her people” in real life, she has a whole community online as Kels, the persona behind her blog, One True Pastry. Kels is everything Halle believes she is not—confident, bold, and the type of person who always knows what to say. Kels has a platform and friendships. Kels has Nash, the boy who ends up in the middle of all of this! Nash is an artist and his online presence is tied to his web comic series. Him and Kels connect over their love for YA via Twitter and develop a years-long friendship . . . a friendship that Halle is terrified of ruining by being her awkward, socially-anxious self, when she unexpectedly runs into him IRL!
You used to be a book blogger. How did this influence the “One True Pastry” blog? Why was it important for you to write about the blogging community?
What I Like About You was inspired by my own teen book blogging days. I ran my own book blog and reviewed YA books just like Halle did, however, blogging was so different back when I was active. Twitter was just starting to become a thing, and most of the blogging community was on blogspot. Today’s book bloggers and bookstagrammers are truly content creators, and One True Pastry’s cupcake theme and concept was inspired by the creativity of the blogging community. Bloggers add so much value to publishing and I wanted to write a book that shouts out all of the hard work that goes into running and maintaining a blog. Plus, I noticed that not a lot of YA books reference teens actually reading YA books, so that’s something I wanted to see and address. I loved blogging so much during my formative years, and I hope that came across via Halle’s dedication to OTP!
Since Halle loves to bake, what’s your favorite type of cupcake? Do you like to bake as well?
I had so much fun incorporating the baking element into What I Like About You! Now, everyone asks me if I love to bake—and the answer is, much like Nash, I prefer eating cupcakes to baking them. I do love baking competition shows and channeled all the knowledge I’ve absorbed from Food Network into this book. As for favorite cupcake, I love a good red velvet because cream cheese frosting!
I have to know, what are some of your favorite YA rom-coms?
Also like Halle, one of my favorite things to do is gush about books, so I love this question! The books that made me fall in love with romcoms as a teen were anything by Meg Cabot and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. More recent favorites include The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka, Have A Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl, and Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan just to name a few. Also! Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon isn’t out until June, but it is a must-read that I will be flailing about until the end of time.
Before we go, what can you share about what you’re working on next?
I’m currently in the middle of revisions for my second YA romcom that’s due out next spring. If What I Like About You is a love letter to book bloggers, my second book is a love letter to theater—and that’s about all I can say for now. I cannot wait until I can share more!