Ally Carter on her adult spy rom-com debut, The Blonde Identity

"I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to write about characters who are the grownups."


If a ridiculously fun and fast-paced rom-com with rogue spies, grumpy operatives and a case of amnesia sounds like the kind of rom-com you need in your life, you’re in for a treat. Best known for her young adult spy novels, bestselling author, Ally Carter, has switched gears and audiences with her newest novel, The Blonde Identity, a romp of a road trip romance that’s a must for any rom-com readers bookshelves. To celebrate its release, we had the pleasure of chatting with Ally about everything from dream movie castings to her decision to write for adults.

Hi Ally! I’m so excited to get to chat to you today to celebrate the release of your new spy rom-com, and one of the most fun reads I’ve had in a while, The Blonde Identity. For readers who may just be learning of it; how would you best describe the book in one sentence?

Thank you! I’m really proud of it. This is a road trip action rom-com about a woman who wakes up with amnesia and, immediately, people start trying to kill her. She thinks, “OMG! I’m a spy.” But she’s not: she’s a spy’s identical twin sister. Her only hope is to team up with her sister’s (very hot, very grump) former partner to stay alive.

Can you tell us a little about your inspirations behind the story?

I’ve always been a sucker for amnesia stories. And spy stories. And twin stories. Years ago, a scene came to me out of nowhere: a woman lying on the ground beneath the Eiffel Tower, coming slowly awake in the snow, with a man leaning over her, shouting, “Get up, Alex! Run!” I didn’t know who that woman was or who was chasing her or why, but I knew one thing for certain: she wasn’t Alex.

That began a long process of trying to fill in all the blanks: who was she? Who was her sister? Who was the man shouting at her? And (the hardest part) exactly who was after her—and what did they want?

For years, I tried to write it as a YA novel, but I just couldn’t crack it. Then one day I was on the phone with a friend and she said, “That’s because they’re adults.” And, instantly, all the pieces fell together. Within days I had a proposal written. Within hours after that, we had our first offer.

So took ten-or-so years of thinking, but when it clicked, it clicked.

The Blonde Identity was such a ridiculously enjoyable read. I imagine you must have had a lot of fun writing it? Were there any scenes you especially loved writing?

I loved writing every single scene of this book! This idea came to me so long ago that it felt like a lot of the scenes had been living in my head for ages, and it was a relief to get them out.

The opening scene under the Eiffel Tower, I’ve obviously imagined a million times. But once I got into it, there were a dozen more moments I couldn’t wait to get to—like pretending to be a pair of honeymooners on a river cruise; or the moment where they have to jump into the icy river to escape (followed by building a fire and huddling together for body heat to stay alive, obviously.) Those scenes were like the load-bearing walls of the story. It was a huge relief when they were finally up and stable and standing on their own.


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The Blonde Identity is your debut adult novel (congratulations!) After releasing multiple bestselling YA novels, what was it like changing lanes and writing for a difference audience?

It was so much fun, and very freeing.

I realized while writing The Blonde Identity how extremely challenging it is to write the types of books I write for younger audiences. Pretty much every day I would have to sit down at the computer and come up with a very logical, very believable reason why my kid protagonists didn’t just turn their problems over to a grownup.

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to write about characters who are the grownups.

In The Blonde Identity, the world’s intelligence services all believe my protagonist is her sister, so she obviously can’t go to them for help. Really, the only person she can turn to is her sister’s former partner. It’s the two of them against the world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Whilst reading The Blonde Identity, I couldn’t help but picture it as the perfect rom-com movie. Do you have a dream casting for if it were to be adapted to screen?

 I would be so incredibly happy to see this book adapted into film. The fun thing about Pretend Movie Casting is it’s never-ending. One day my mental Sawyer and Zoe could be Chris Evans and Jodie Comer. The next it could be Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning. Or Amanda Seyfried. Or Kristen Bell. (Can you tell I’ve been rewatching Veronica Mars?)

At the end of the day, the characters are themselves. And while it’s a fun game to play, it will probably only ever be that—a game. Luckily, these characters already feel like real people to me. Now my answer is usually, “Oh, Zoe and Sawyer should play themselves!”

The end of The Blonde Identity hints at a potential sequel; is this something we can hope to see in the future?

I really, really loved the character of Alex. I mean what’s not to love about a rogue spy who kind of single-handedly took down one of the worst people on the planet? So the question isn’t so much “does Alex have a story?” It’s more like “can Ally actually do Alex justice?” And the answer to both is, I guess, we’ll see?

Finally; if you were a spy, what would your codename be?

Oh, probably DeadGirl because I wouldn’t last five minutes!

Get your copy of The Blonde Identity by Ally Carter here.

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