Lauren Ho on her laugh out loud YA debut, Bite Me, Royce Taslim

"I'd always wanted to write about teenagers who look and sound like me"

This post is sponsored by Penguin Random House.

The YA debut from acclaimed author, Lauren Ho, Bite Me, Royce Taslim is a quick witted and charismatic rivals-to-lovers romcom following two budding comedians as they vie for first place in an international stand-up comedy contest.

Equal parts sweet and funny, Bite Me, Royce Taslim is a story of second chances, first love and following your dreams. It’s the perfect read for anyone looking to add some laughter and love to their bookshelves, which is why we’re thrilled to have had the chance to talk to Lauren all about it.

Hi Lauren! It’s so lovely to have you on the site today to celebrate the release of your laugh out loud YA debut, Bite Me, Royce Taslim. For readers who may be hearing about the book for the first time, what three words would you use to describe it?

Hilarious, charming, fun

Can you tell us a little about how the inspiration for the book and Agnes’s story came about?

I’d always wanted to write about teenagers who look and sound like me (I’m Malaysian) and I am so glad that I was about to do this while talking about one of my favourite art forms: stand-up comedy. I used to perform weekly as an amateur stand-up comic in Singapore from 2016 till 2018, bombing often and spectacularly, in part because I was too cheap to pay for therapy. Anyway, in the end I got a lot of material for my books including YA novel, but it’s possible that the scene never recovered. Speaking of therapy, taking care of your mental health is important, and that’s a theme I deal with in ROYCE TASLIM, too.

After having previously published two rom-coms for adults, what was it like switching gears and writing for a younger?

I explore universal themes of self-discovery and finding one’s true purpose in life in both my adult romcoms and my YA debut; the biggest shift probably was adjusting the language and tone so that I strike the right balance between engaging storytelling and age-appropriate content.

Bite Me, Royce Taslim is partially inspired by your own experience as an amateur stand-up comic. Are there any of your own moments or experiences from that time that didn’t quite make it into the novel that you can share with us?

Yeah, I like dark humour, and certainly dark humour doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to YA romcoms, at least in ROYCE ! I had to reword some of my jokes.

What do you think Agnes and Royce would have thought of your own sets?

They would have thought, Oh My God, I can do so much better! But they would have been gracious about it, because they are decent kids with empathy.

If you were to host your own comedy night, who would be on your dream set list?

Ali Wong, Nimesh Patel, Beth Stelling, Aparna Nancherla, John Mulaney, Ronny Chieng

Last but not least, do you currently have any projects in the works and if so, is there anything you can us about it?

Two adult fiction projects that I can’t talk about yet, and my second YA novel with Disney which is set in Paris and loads of fun!

Get your copy of Bite Me, Royce Taslim by Lauren Ho here.

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