• Thursday, April 25, 2024

Interview with Jenny Proctor Author of “How to Kiss Your Best Friend”

Discover insights from author Jenny Proctor on 'How to Kiss Your Best Friend' in this exclusive interview with Frontlist. Get inside the mind of the writer.
on Feb 13, 2024
Interview with Jenny Proctor Author of “How to Kiss Your Best Friend” | Frontlist

Jenny Proctor is an award-winning author of more than fourteen romantic comedies and an Amazon bestseller. She began her career in publishing in 2013; her writing has been a constant since then and is now her full-time focus, but in the past, she spent several years as the owner and managing editor of Midnight Owl Editors and as the chair of the Storymakers Conference.

Wired for relationships, Jenny loves public speaking, teaching, and building lasting connections. Jenny was born in the mountains of Western North Carolina, a place she considers one of the loveliest on earth. She loves to hike with her family and spend time outdoors, but she also adores lounging around her home, reading great books or watching great movies and, when she’s lucky, eating delicious food she doesn’t have to prepare herself.

Frontlist: As someone who has authored multiple romance novels, where do you continuously find the motivation and inspiration to craft distinct narratives? How do you navigate the challenge of ensuring each book maintains its unique voice and storyline while avoiding creative roadblocks that may arise from working within a particular genre?

Jenny: This is a great question. A lot of this comes from spending time with my characters before I start drafting. I think about who they are, what motivates them to act and think the way they do, and what experiences they’ve had that impact the way they view the world. Not all that backstory will necessarily make it into the novel, but it does help me figure out who my characters are. It helps them feel like distinct individuals, which, in turn, helps each novel feel different. Every love story is different; every person has their own unique way of processing and understanding the variety of circumstances life throws at us. To write unique novels isn’t just about thinking up unique plots. It’s about coming up with unique characters who will respond and process in their own way and knowing them well enough to weave that uniqueness into the plot.

Frontlist: What sets 'How to Kiss Your Best Friend' apart amid the common theme of choosing between love and career in romance narratives? How does this story offer a fresh perspective or distinctive approach to navigating the tug-of-war between personal desires and professional ambitions that differs from other works in the genre?

Jenny: As a woman who is living my dream career-wise but has also been married to the love of my life for twenty-three years, I like to think we shouldn’t have to choose between love and success in our careers. But that doesn’t mean we won’t ever have to compromise. I think it’s also important to recognize that dreams change and grow and shift as we do as people. When Kate, in How to Kiss Your Best Friend, left her hometown to pursue her dreams, I think that’s exactly what she needed to do. She went after what she wanted, and it was meaningful and important and exactly what she wanted … until it wasn’t anymore. And then she knew it was time to look for more. I don’t think she expected to find it in the one place she was so anxious to leave, but her heart knew what she needed. Did this mean her career goals shifted a little to make room for love? Sure. But it was about more than that, too. It was about finding the piece of life that she’d been missing. That’s the thing, though. We don’t all have to want or look for the same things. As a romance novelist, I love love. But in my mind, love, happily ever after, is more about being with someone who inspires you to be the best version of yourself in every aspect of your life than it is about giving up who you are or what you do to be with someone else. I know that doesn’t always feel possible, but I think that magical combination of right time, right place, right person … we can find it. That’s what I aimed for in How to Kiss Your Best Friend. Ultimately, Kate's decision about her career didn’t feel like a sacrifice because the life she gained in return was well worth it.

Frontlist: Brody's love for Kate remained steadfast even after years of minimal communication and Kate's pursuit of her aspirations. How did you approach crafting Brody's enduring love, and what do you believe drives such unwavering affection despite distance and differing paths in life?

Jenny: I love this question because I’ve actually had a lot of readers speculate about whether Brody would REALLY keep loving Kate after so many years. The thing is, the two of them were childhood best friends. They were so young, still learning what it meant to be friends, and then later, at least for Brody, what it meant to fall in love with someone. All those years of friendship are a lot of history for two people to have. But it isn’t as though Brody stopped living his life while Kate was away. He worked. He pursued his hobbies. He even dated. This might make some readers mad, but while I definitely believe in love, I don’t know that I believe we only have one chance to find it. Had Kate never returned, I like to think Brody would have eventually found someone else. But she DID come back. And she finally saw in Brody what he had always seen in her. She became the right person, in the right place, at the right moment. I know that I have friends who I won’t see for years, and then when we do see each other, it’s as if no time has passed. We just pick up right where we left off. Because we have history, we know each other so well, and we love each other despite the distance between our daily lives. It was fun to give two characters that kind of history and explore the way it impacted the depth of their feelings.

Frontlist: In 'How to Kiss Your Best Friend,' Kate finds herself torn after a passionate moment with Brody. What inspired Kate's inner conflict, and how does her journey mirror the struggle many face in accepting and embracing love?

Jenny: This was such a hard scene to write! Because Kate loved Brody as a friend for so many years, she was so afraid of hurting him. I think she trusted Brody completely, but she didn’t trust herself. She didn’t believe herself capable of giving him what he needed. It’s so often like that, isn’t it? We doubt ourselves; we doubt our ability to love completely. We worry we will hurt the people we care about the most. Kate had to realize that she was not only capable of loving Brody in the way he deserved, but she ALSO deserved to be loved in the same way.

Frontlist: In today's ever-evolving landscape, perceptions of love are changing. What advice would you give to young individuals, particularly on Valentine's Day, to navigate the shifting dynamics of modern relationships? How can they embrace these changes while fostering meaningful and fulfilling connections?

Jenny: You know, my three oldest children are all young adults, currently navigating the world of dating and relationships. The advice I give them is to look for ways to make real connections. Talk face to face. Be open and honest about what you’re looking for and what your expectations are. Believe that you are worthy of a healthy, happy relationship in which you are seen and valued. But also, be gentle with yourself and gentle with others. No one is perfect. Sincere apologies are important, both giving them and receiving them.

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