This month, All The Kissing welcomes Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient, out now from Berkley Books. We couldn’t be happier for Helen’s success and are delighted to have her here. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and of course on helenhoang.com. Read on to learn more about Helen, The Kiss Quotient and its inspiration, and how events and contests have helped shape her career.
Introducing Helen Hoang
Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since.
In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT (June 2018, Berkley Books), available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tunes, and Kobo.
She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.
Helen is represented by Kim Lionetti of BookEnds Literary Agency.
Congratulations on the publication of your first novel. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s surprised you most as a debut author?
This is going to sound corny, but what’s surprised me most from publishing is how fantastic people can be. This book wouldn’t have happened without the help and support of many people. From my Pitch Wars mentor Brighton Walsh, to my critique partners (who know who you are), to my agent Kim Lionetti, editor Cindy Hwang, the team at Berkley, even the publicity teams at other publishers, and the incredible authors who did me the honor of providing blurbs for my book, so many have struck me with their kindness and generosity. This supportive community makes me proud of the romance genre.
Speaking of things that make the romance genre wonderful, let’s talk about Daniel Henney. Was he always the inspiration for Michael Phan, or was that happy serendipity?
“It was always Daniel Henney,” she says in a fateful voice. I think he’s gorgeous, and I love that he’s mixed race like I am. It was fun sifting through his pictures on social media while I was “researching.”
Never belittle that time spent researching! Sifting through pictures aside, how long did The Kiss Quotient take you to write? How many revisions did you make on it until you were satisfied?
The first draft of The Kiss Quotient took me ten weeks to write, but it went through several revisions after that (honestly, I can’t remember how many; six maybe), including a large revision under the guidance of my Pitch Wars mentor Brighton. From beginning to polished final product, it took me about eight months.
Since you mentioned Pitch Wars, how have writing contests helped, hindered, or informed your career as an author?
Writing contests have been really helpful to me. While there were definitely occasions where I received feedback that I didn’t find useful, I’ve learned a great deal from contests and received kind encouragement that helped me keep going.
Are there any particular contests you recommend? Why?
Hands down, the best writing contest I’ve participated in is Pitch Wars. The opportunity to learn from a mentor who’s been there and done it is priceless. Also, the friends I’ve gained from Pitch Wars are some of my best friends.
Where do you find the best inspiration for your stories? What are your go-to places (either online or in real life) when you’re hunting for ideas?
I find a lot of inspiration from film. When it’s time to write something new, I always go back to my favorite romantic comedies. If it’s not clear, The Kiss Quotient is a gender-swapped Pretty Woman.
If you were stuck rereading only one romance novel forever, which one would you pick and why? How about a romance movie?
I don’t think I could reread one novel forever, no matter how good it was. I’d rather have an empty journal so I could write the story myself.
As for movies, I can’t pick just one, so here are my top three: Pride and Prejudice (Matthew Macfadyen edition), Amelie, and Love, Actually.
You’re quite active online. Are there specific sites that have helped foster your writing career? Any special groups, places our readers can check out?
If you’re an American romance writer, and you’re not a member of Romance Writers of America, you should get on it. I learned a massive amount through guest speakers at my local RWA chapter meetings. Twitter is a good place to meet other writers online, and there’s also the All the Kissing Facebook group here.
Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Never give up. Publishing success is all about luck, but luck won’t do you any good if you’ve quit. Hang in there, for as long as you can, and then longer still, so when your luck comes, you can grab it.
Thanks again, Helen, for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you the best of luck in all your writing endeavors!
Feature image courtesy of Helen Hoang’s Facebook page.