Best-selling author Lynn Painter follows her wildly popular book Better Than The Movies with a brilliant new romantic comedy, chronicling the emotional rollercoaster of a summer for her teenage girl hero in Betting on You. In this exclusive conversation with Young Entertainment, Painter tells us about how she manages to get into her characters’ heads, her favorite fan posts and which YA novels she simply couldn’t live without.
Young Entertainment: How do your main female character’s in your YA Books Better Than the Movies, The Do-Over and Betting on You (Liz, Emilie and Bailey) differ in terms of their voice?
Lynn Painter: I feel like they’re similar in that they’re overthinkers who spend a lot of time in their own heads. Where they differ, however, is that Liz is a romantic who believes wholeheartedly in love, Emilie is cynical about the notion of fate and love, and Bailey wants to believe in love but she’s scared that what Charlie (the anti-love) believes might actually be the truth.
YE: What was the decision process like in doing both Bailey and Charlie’s POV as opposed to just Bailey’s? And what did you do to get into the mindset of Charlie?
LP: I fell in love with dual POV when I was writing Mr. Wrong Number, and now I don’t ever want to go back. There’s just something about knowing what’s actually going on in the brain of both characters while they each behave in ways that absolutely contradict those thoughts that I’m obsessed with. I honestly can’t imagine going back to single POV (unless it’s to go back and write BTTM from Wes’s POV, which is something that readers have slowly convinced me I’m dying to do ;).
I didn’t really do anything specific to get into Charlie’s head. Charlie’s voice has been really loud for me, louder than Emily‘s actually, since the day I started outlining the project, so I found him very easy to write. My only issue (after the fact) is that he obviously spoke very loudly to me THROUGH A HUGE POTTY MOUTH, but I was so in his head at the time that I failed to notice until it became a printed book. So now I feel a bit like a terrible person for throwing so many F-bombs into one book.
Having people connect to a book enough to want to make content about it is ridiculously cool. On top of that, everyone is so stinking good that I end up walking away with this gift of being able to see a real-life, visual manifestation of my imaginary friends.
YE: What is it about the Enemies to Lovers trope that you love so much?
LP: I’m obsessed with the concept of two people having preconceived notions about each other, then slowly seeing them in a different light. There is nothing more fun than those moments where a character is like “oh, I thought he was a trash human, so why is he helping this person when it doesn’t benefit him at all? Is he… Nice? No, surely that can’t be it.”
YE: What gave you the inspiration to make Charlie and Wes cousins in Better Than Before?
LP: I was brainstorming ideas for a short story and couldn’t decide between writing one for Wes/Liz or Bailey/Charlie. Then my brain was like “put them all together and cousin it up” – and that’s where we landed. (I wish I had a better inspiration story for you but alas, I do not.)
YE: In The Do-Over do Emilie and Nick get matching tattoos at any point? And if they do, what do they get?
LP: They do not get matching tattoos in the book, although now you make me want to write a bonus short story where they do! Because the banter they would have to exchange in order to reach an agreement on what that ink would look like? That’s some juicy dialogue. Perhaps that will be my next project…(thank you, Young Entertainment, for the idea)
YE: Now that we know Wes and Charlie are cousins, do Emilie and Nick also exist within the same universe?
LP: They DO exist in the same universe, but I am still exploring their family trees (to determine just how close that link is) and geographical locations (how far is Hazelwood High from Emerson…?).
YE: What has been your favorite fan post for Better Than The Movies?
LP: Well, I’m obsessed with every single TikTok and aesthetic Reel. Having people connect to a book enough to want to make content about it is ridiculously cool. On top of that, everyone is so stinking good that I end up walking away with this gift of being able to see a real-life, visual manifestation of my imaginary friends. It’s so unbelievably mind-boggling! I don’t know if I could pick a favorite, but last spring when someone made a BTTM TikTok and Jack Champion commented that he’d just bought the book, we screamed and kicked our feet and it was a total blast of a moment.
@youngentmag “Better than the Movies” is well…the BEST! We can’t put it down – It tells the story of Liz Buxbaum, a senior in high school with a passion for romance movies – She discovers that “happily ever after” is not what or who she expects – but MAYBE it’s even better?! So if it DOES become a movie, who would you cast as Liz and Wes?! #betterthanthemovies #betterthanthemoviesedit #booktok #joshuabassett #saylorbell #sophiaturner #lolatung #sadiesink ♬ Get You – Official Sound Studio
YE: Did you use the words Betting On You to spell out BOY on purpose? And if yes, what was the decision process like?
LP: It was a total fluke, I’m sorry to say. It would’ve been SO COOL if I’d pulled a Taylor and created some easter egg of an acronym, but it was dumb luck (that I’m in love with).
YE: What do you hope readers take away from your books?
LP: I am the type of person who treasures my comfort reads and comfort watches. I re-read my favorite books and rewatch my favorite shows ALL THE TIME because I love the escapism, so it is my dream for the books I write to serve that purpose for someone else. The idea of someone turning to something I’ve written as a respite from a long day is just mind-boggling dopamine for me! 🙂
“I didn’t really do anything specific to get into Charlie’s head. Charlie’s voice has been really loud for me, louder than Emily‘s actually, since the day I started outlining the project, so I found him very easy to write.”
YE: Why do you think the basketball scene in Better than the Movies made such an impact?
LP: I don’t know!!! I literally didn’t know it was a favorite until I started writing bonus scenes and kept getting requests for that one in Wes’s POV. I’m not sure if it’s because Wes literally gives Liz the shirt off his back when he thinks she needs help, or if it’s just the funny cringe of our silly little love-lover taking a basketball to the honker.
YE: When you write your books do you have talent in mind to play these characters?
LP: Not exactly. When I wrote Better Than The Movies, the characters were all in my head and I had no mental fancast whatsoever. Wes was just a blur of dark hair, laughing eyes and tallness. But when I wrote The Do-Over, Nick was absolutely 1000% Jess Mariano from Gilmore Girls in my head and I just heard Nick talking when I was writing dialogue. So I guess it just varies from book-to-book.
YE: What are your top 5 YA books?
LP: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Check & Mate, Dry, and Bruiser. **Disclaimer: this changes on a weekly basis.
YE: If you were to collaborate with another YA author, who would it be and what would you want the story to be about?
LP: My dream pitch would be a collab with Neal Schusterman, where he would do all of his amazing plotting and worldbuilding and then I would just drop in to add the romantic subplots for all of his characters.