Author Spotlight Interview: Casey Dembowski
Today’s interview is with award winning author Casey Dembowski who writes contemporary romance. Reviewers call her books engaging, fun, and thought-provoking. We were thrilled to chat with Dembowski about her writing journey, style and exciting upcoming projects.
HG: Your debut novel, When We’re Thirty was just named the 2021 NYC Big Book Award Winner for Romantic Comedy, congrats! Tell us more about the book and why readers may enjoy it.
CD: When We’re Thirty is a friends-to-lovers/marriage of convenience mashup about two friends who follow through on a pact they made to get married if they were both still single when they turned thirty. It’s a fun story and really tackles the experience of being thirty in New York City. Will and Hannah have a lot to overcome not only in their relationship but with their careers and families and the direction they want their lives to take.
HG: Oooh, how fun! Where does the inspiration for your writing come from?
CD: So much of my writing is inspired by music. Each of my works has a playlist that inspired me while I was writing, and there’s usually one specific song that is really the theme song to the book. It might not directly correlate, but the feeling behind the moment depicted in the song will spawn a story that I will spin into a whole novel.
HG: That’s really cool. I like that. What feeling do you want readers to be left with when they finish one of your novels?
CD: I always hope that my books bring joy to the reader. They are love stories and friendship stories, and by the end, I hope readers have been given a few hours of escape.
HG: For fun, if When We’re Thirty was made into a movie, who would you cast?
CD: This is such a hard question! When I wrote When We’re Thirty I had Josh Bowman and Emily VanCamp (both from Revenge) as Will and Hannah. But as I started looking at actors under thirty, I think Dove Cameron or Zendaya would be great for the role of Hannah.
HG: All great actors! How do you come up with your character names?
CD: I usually start with names I like, but sometimes I just have to sit with my fingers over the keys until their name comes to me. And once I name a main character, I usually can’t change that name.
HG: Tell us a bit about your publishing journey. What has been the most challenging part?
CD: When We’re Thirty is actually not the first book I’ve written. It was the third full manuscript I wrote. The first will now be my sophomore novel, The Corey Effect, and the second lives only on my computer and no one shall ever see it! After my first book didn’t sell, and I decided my second book wasn’t one I wanted to pursue, I turned to When We’re Thirty. It took me about a year to write, and over a year to sell. It was definitely long and winding, but I’m really happy with where the book and my journey ended up. In fact, once it sold, it was only eight months from signing my contract to getting it out in the world! So, after all that waiting, it was quite a whirlwind to publication.
HG: Wow! When did you know you wanted to be an author?
CD: Writing is just something I’ve always done. It’s who I am. Even when I wasn’t writing, I was plotting in my head. But in terms of really deciding to try and get published, I suppose I decided that in my junior year of college when I started looking into applying to an MFA program. It was the first time since I started writing that I really looked into a more formalized writing program, instead of one-off classes or conferences. But after my MFA, I had about five years where I just couldn’t write; I was completely blocked. And then I decided to break out my thesis and revise it. And the rest is a long and winding journey to When We’re Thirty.
HG: Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Has it changed since the pandemic? Where and when you write?
CD: I’ve always been a write whenever and wherever I can writer. When I was in graduate school, I used to write at the laundromat or on my breaks from working as a barista. Learning to fit writing into short bursts has been really beneficial now that I’m a mom. I’m able to write without needing much lead in or time. In fact, I usually write about thirty minutes a day, right before bed.
HG: That’s fantastic. What did you do to celebrate when you finished writing When We Were Thirty?
CD: This is a hard question! I finished writing When We’re Thirty in 2018, which feels like a really long time ago. I don’t generally do more than post about finishing writing it. Usually I take a few days off, let it sink in, and then go back and read it again.
HG: I hear you. 2018 does feel like forever ago. What do you like to do when not writing?
CD: I don’t have too much free time, but I enjoy reading. I’m a big rereader, so I usually read my favorite series again at some point of the year. I also love to bake cookies – it’s a lot of fun to teach my four-year-old to bake, though she mostly enjoys eating the cookie dough.
HG: I can’t blame her! What’s next up on your TBR list?
CD: I’m reading Good Catch by Jennifer Bardsley right now. After that I’m hoping to check out one of the new Helena Hunting books on audio.
HG: Nice! Anything you can tell us about projects you’re currently working on?
CD: My second book, The Corey Effect, is due out next year. It’s a small town, second chance romance. It’s not directly related to When We’re Thirty but is technically in the same universe (you’ll hear mention of Wilderness Weekend for instance and Talented). I’m also working on an enemies-to-lovers romcom set in the When We’re Thirty universe.
HG: For readers that want to find out more about your stories and future projects, where should they go to connect or learn more?
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