Ann Liang’s newest YA rom-com, I Hope This Doesn’t Find You is a love letter to people pleasers everywhere. It’s for everyone who’s ever tried to mould themselves into who and what they think they should be. It’s for the perfectionists who desperately crave a sense of belonging. It’s for all those out there who long to feel appreciated; to be seen. I Hope This Doesn’t Find You is relatable and authentic, whilst also having all the fun and drama of a perfect rivals-to-lovers rom-com. To celebrate the release of this delightful new addition to the world of YA rom-coms, we had the chance to chat to Ann Liang all about it.
Hi Ann! I’m thrilled to have the chance to talk to you today about your gorgeous new YA contemporary, I Hope This Doesn’t Find You. I have no doubt I Hope This Doesn’t Find You will end up being one of my favourites of the year but for readers who haven’t had the joy of reading it yet, what five words would you use to describe it to them?
Thank you so much! I’d probably describe it with the words pathological people pleaser and hate emails.
Can you tell us a little about how the inspiration for the book came about?
This was one of those instances where the plot came together pretty quickly, but I believe it started with Sadie’s personality—I was drawn to the idea of this people pleaser who everyone thinks is really quiet and smart and nice, the kind of student who does all the work in group projects but is secretly resentful about it, and the contrast between her perfect image and the side of her she keeps hidden from everybody. As with most of my books, I like to just ask myself: okay, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen for my main character, specifically? And I figured that having her angry, private emails accidentally get sent out to the whole school would be Sadie’s worst nightmare, so I went from there.
I Hope This Doesn’t Find You features one of the best rivals-to-lovers romances I’ve had the joy of reading for a while. Are there any other classic romance tropes you’d like to explore in future novels?
That’s so kind! I’m actually really itching to write a friends-to-lovers book. I feel like I’ve started to truly appreciate the angst and yearning that comes with that particular dynamic, and after writing my rivals-to-lovers romances, it’d be interesting to write about two people who openly enjoy each other’s company from the very beginning.
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All three of your books feature beautifully developed and genuine, yet very different protagonists. Between Sadie, Eliza and Alice; is there one girl you see more of yourself in and who do you think you’d get on the best with in real life?
None of my protagonists are exactly like me, but I think there’s definitely a small part of me in every protagonist I write. When I really want something, I can be a little impulsive and make terrible decisions like Alice; in my more optimistic moods, I’m a hopeless romantic like Eliza; and there have been times in my life where I’ve shied away from conflict like Sadie. I do think I’d get along best with Eliza in real life, in part because I’d be a bit intimidated by Alice and Sadie.
I Hope This Doesn’t Find You is your third YA novel. Has your approach to writing changed at all in the three years since the release of your debut?
Oh, that’s such an interesting question! My writing process hasn’t changed drastically, but something I’ve been noticing is that I have to give more thought to how a new project would fit alongside my existing and future books. Practically speaking, I’ve also had to be somewhat more flexible in how I draft my books. Before, I would like to write a book from start to finish, and turn in the completed draft once I was happy with it. But now that I’m working under contract, I might have to write three chapters first, wait for approval, and then pick up where I left off, or I might have to pause halfway through writing a book because my edits for another book just came in.
Considering we’ve just welcomed in the new year; are there any upcoming 2024 titles you can’t wait to get your hands on?
Yes, absolutely! There are so many incredible books coming out this year that I’d honestly need to write up a whole list, but just off the top of my head, I’m really looking forward to Maya’s Laws of Love by Alina Khawaja, Vilest Things by Chloe Gong, To Gaze Upon Wicked Gods by Molly X. Chang, A Crane Among Wolves by June Hur, Immortal Dark by Tigest Girma, and Of Jade and Dragons by Amber Chen.
Finally, for those of us already desperate for more Ann Liang stories; are you currently working on anything and if so, is there anything you can share with us?
I can’t talk about it too much yet, but I recently turned in the first draft of my next rom-com. I’m also very excited to start drafting the standalone spin-off for If You Could See the Sun, titled I Could Give You the Moon, which follows Beijing’s darling socialite Chanel Cao.