Casey McQuiston Q&A with Joy & Cassie!

To say that we collectively fell in rom-com love with Casey MicQuiston’s delightful, sexy, political romp, RED WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE, is to really say that we tumbled head first into obsessive happy adoration. So much so that it’s currently sitting as the centerpiece of our brand new romance display. So much so that we’ve become happy evangelists for the rom-com revival in all its new forms. We are, thus, quite delighted to feature an interview that Joy and Cassie did with Casey this week in our lead up to Saturday 8/17’s BOOKSTORE ROMANCE DAY. Turns out there are tons of amazing, diverse romance titles just waiting to be read, each with its own unique and satisfying happily ever after. (and in this case, set in an alternate reality in which a divorced Texas woman with two college age kids won the 2016 presidential election.)

Now that we have your attention, here’s what Casey had to say!

Joy Preble & Cassie Schulz: First off, we all want to thank you for this wonderful, sweet, sexy, LGBTQ-rep, very happy ending romance that is also much-needed wish fulfillment for an alternate history in which a divorced woman whose children are part Hispanic has been elected President of the United States in 2016!! Your inspiration is pretty obvious, but were there aspects of creating this world that gave you more concern than others?

Casey McQuiston: It was always such a complex thing to try to tackle a story like this, where the world felt close enough to ours to be recognizable and to grapple with how we got here in our own world, while still suggesting that it’s possible for things to be better. The element I was most concerned with, I think, was just striking that tonal balance, where it took the bad things seriously without getting too dark and revel in the good things without being too completely unrealistic or naive. That’s a hard balance to strike!

JP & CS: It maybe be a hard balance, but you’ve done such a grand job!

JP & CS: Speaking of rom-coms, political or otherwise, we’d love to hear your thoughts on why there’s been such a resurgence of them in books and film (especially but not limited to original Netflix movies).  And in a related question, RWRB is full of so many of our favorite rom-com tropes of all time: animal shenanigans, gratuitous karaoke moments, enemies-to-lovers. Was there a particular rom-com trope you couldn't fit in the book that you really wanted to? What was your absolute favorite one to include? 

CM: I think there are a few factors that lead to it, honestly, but a huge factor is just the state of things since 2016. While things were far from perfect before, the overall mood of the world just tanked. I know I’ve basically only watched sitcoms and rom coms since then, and it’s because now we’re looking for escapism and hope and happy endings and something to believe in again. Romantic comedies provide that. And then there’s the fact that this generation of romcoms is driven by diverse casts and creators—that’s a huge strength, because so many of these voices are able to bring a richness and freshness to tropes that we’ve always loved. We don’t want escapism that’s just as white, straight, and cis as the people in power making the world worse.

My favorite trope was definitely the gratuitous karaoke moment! It’s just my favorite in general—I think it finds its way into just about everything I write. I do wish I could have found some way to make some pairing in this book to end up stuck staying overnight somewhere with just one bed.. although, if you think about it, June, Nora, and Pez kind of do. Do with that what you will!

JP & CS: Cassie is quite thrilled about that karaoke moment!

JP & CS: And in a fun side note, what are you characters’ favorite rom coms? We’d imagine that Henry, Alex, June, Nora and the rest all have very different tastes! 

CM: Alex is a sucker for love/hate relationships, so of course he loves 10 Things I Hate About You. Henry, of course, loves Love, Actually and The Holiday, but he has a soft spot for About a Boy. June’s favorites are Crazy Rich Asians, While You Were Sleeping, and anything Norah Ephron. Bea loves the classic screwball comedies like His Girl Friday. Nora and Pez both insist that Die Hard is a romantic comedy about Bruce Willis falling in love with Reginal VelJohnson.

JP & CS: Ha! Joy and her husband discuss the Die Hard question every holiday season! 

JP & CS: We also adored not only the swoon-worthy romance and love scenes with Alex and Henry (!!) but also the amount of gay history represented in RWRB, particularly through Alex and Henry's emails, which are so integral to their growing relationship. What was your favorite letter or story you discovered through writing this book?

CM: My favorite would have to be that letter between from Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf—the full text of it is just absolutely gorgeous. “I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless, nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple, desperate, human way.” I mean, come on!

JP & CS: Okay, we’re dying a little every time we read that. *swoon*

JP & CS: And speaking of representing, let’s move to politics. How exactly did you make sure that this intimate, deep dive into politics and the First Family and the people who work with and protect them was accurate and believable?

CM: I read a few books about first families and also political sex scandals—two standouts were All The Truth Is Out by Matt Bai and A Woman In Charge by Carl Bernstein—and tried to integrate what I learned from those into the foundation of the book, but I also learned a lot from The West Wing and Veep about how these worlds look from the inside (or at least how we think they look). I felt like the more useless trivia I could fill my brain with, the more easily that world would sort of flow out of it, so I tried to read as much as I could, wherever I could find it. And it helps to know a few campaign staffers and D.C. people to bounce things off of!

JP & CS: Moving away from DC for a second, let’s talk Texas. You do such an overall solid job of representing Texas, including the Diaz house by Lake LBJ-- a house so perfect that it is now my Austin area fantasy house. Have you lived in Texas? How did you get Texas right?

CM: Thank you! I’m from Louisiana, but my dad’s side of the family practically lives on the Texas/Louisiana border and tons of my friends are from there. I spent a lot of time in Houston growing up, then Houston and Austin in my college and post-grad years. I just fell in love with the state, the food, the people, the unpretentiousness, the hills, the bayous, the music, everything. I’ve felt for a long time like it’s my secondary home state, and I think that’s a love that comes through really organically on the page. I already knew Mexican Coke was better than regular Coke. I already knew about Texas homecoming mums. I didn’t have to learn to love Texas like Alex does—Alex loves Texas like I do. And again, it helps to have Texas-native friends I could ask about what types of trees grow near Lake LBJ. 

JP & CS: Anything else we should know about Casey McQuiston and what’s coming next? 

CM: Just that I’m super excited to keep bringing fun, earnest, queer romcoms to people! Right now I’m finishing up my second book, which is another new adult romcom that’s sort of a queer Kate & Leopold, if Kate was a reformed girl detective and Leopold was a butch lesbian from the 1970s. It’s been so challenging to write—the plot requires more than half the book to take place on the subway—but I’m so proud of it. I can’t wait for people to read it! And keep your eyes open this fall: I just might be popping up at a few book festivals. 

JP & CS: Cassie got to host you at a Houston Public Library event, but of course we’d LOVE to have you back! And Joy is dying happily again because she’s watched Kate and Leopold twenty-nine times and if you need an early reader for the new book, holy cow she is exactly your audience!!

JP & CS: Thanks for such awesome answers, Casey. We’ll continue putting RED WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE in everyone’s hands!

Pick up your copy of RED WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE the next time you’re in the store. Or order one here!







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Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel By Casey McQuiston Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250316776
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - May 14th, 2019

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