In The Right Swipe (Avon, August), dating app creator Rhiannon butts heads with her former hookup, Samson, a former football player turned rep for a rival app.
Your book touches on online dating, sexual harassment, and football players’ brain injuries. What inspired that mix?
I started writing it before the #MeToo explosion happened, so then of course I had to tailor it a little bit after that. You know, sexual harassment has been around forever, it’s not really a new thing, and our reaction to it is something that I wanted to talk about and explore. A lot of my books are just me working through my own feelings, a way to process it, get it out there, and maybe, hopefully, help other people. And the CTE stuff I’ve been thinking about for years. I had to do very little research, because for years I’d just been collecting all this information and reading and watching interviews with former players. The only way I can write a sports hero is if he’s an ex-sports hero—that’s sort of one of my running jokes. But I figured, if I have a former football player, then I can talk about CTE.
You tweet a lot about online dating. Did your experiences inspire the story?
No, but I have infamously online dated quite a bit, and still do, and I talk about it on social media sometimes, to people’s amusement. I hear a lot of people say, “You know, this must be the worst time in history to date,” and I just don’t think that’s true. I don’t think it’s ever really been easy to connect with other humans. So that was part of the inspiration for this. Even with characters who can be cynical, I wanted to write something that was moderately hopeful about modern dating.
What responses do you get to books full of nonwhite characters?
My last series was set in Upstate New York, and somebody said, “You know, I never knew Upstate New York could be that diverse.” And I said, “I grew up in Buffalo and it’s pretty diverse, actually.” This series is set in L.A., Santa Barbara, West Coast—it makes sense to have these characters there. Like, if I create an all-white or all-straight L.A., is that going to jar people out of the story? If it is, then it’s clearly not reality. And sometimes people will say, “Oh, your books are so casually diverse.” And I go, “Well, I’m pretty casually diverse.” I don’t go to the store and go, “Hey, brown woman walking through the store,” I’m just going to the store. Yes, everyone’s life is somewhat shaped by the color they are or their orientation or whatever, but I think for the most part we’re all pretty casually diverse. We’re just living our lives.