Announcing Our First Selection for Season 5: MEG AND LINUS by Hanna Nowinski!
Dear Swoon Readers:
I’m so happy to share the first title of our fifth Swoon Reads list: Meg and Linus. Here’s a charming story about two best friends with problems in their love lives. Meg is heartbroken when her longtime girlfriend, Sophia, breaks up with her and needs a distraction. So she makes it her mission to set up her friend Linus with his crush – adorably awkward drama nerd Danny. There’s lots to swoon over here: Not only did we find the romance sweet, but the underlying friendship story gave this book an extra element of heart that left us with a smile on our face when we finished.
Welcome to the Swoon Reads family, author Hanna Nowinski (and Meg and Linus.) We’ll be announcing this list in several parts, so stay tuned for our next announcement.
A Note from Editor Christine Barcellona
Hey Swoon Readers,
I fell hard for Meg and Linus. I love a good friendship story, I love a story with nerdy protagonists, and I love a story where I wish the characters were my best friends. The first time I read Meg and Linus, I breezed through it. I knew we had to publish it. And that I had to edit it. I needed to spend more time with Meg and Linus!
When we had our editorial board meeting, so many people in the room spoke up about how much they adored Meg and Linus, and how they enjoyed their voices and related to their very real dilemmas. Anyone can relate to Linus’ disbelief that his crush could possibly be into him. Or Meg’s total denial that her heart’s broken – she just needs a new project to distract herself, thank you very much. And, I mean, can you think of a dream date any better than making snow aliens? Doubt it.
This is a book that I wish had been around when I was a teen. We need more stories about LGBTQIA characters. And I hope that we find many more manuscripts featuring diverse characters and from diverse perspectives to fall in love with on Swoon Reads.
A huge congratulations to Hanna! And I hope that all of you enjoy Meg and Linus as much as we do.
♥ Christine Barcellona
Meet the Author: Hanna Nowinski
What sparked the idea for Meg and Linus?
There isn’t really any moment or event I could pin down for this. I was actually working on something else at the time. But I also had this character of Meg I kept thinking about, who had been dumped by her girlfriend just before summer break. In my head, she was writing letters to her ex-girlfriend that she had no intention of sending. I mentioned the idea to a friend one day and we kept emailing back and forth about it, and eventually Meg just wouldn’t leave my mind anymore. Only she wasn’t writing letters any longer, she was trying to come up with projects to distract herself from her heartbreak. And so Linus was introduced as the best friend, and Meg had her project: if she couldn’t be happy, she would make sure that Linus would be!
The real spark for me was the friendship between Meg and Linus. I love a good friendship story, but a lot of the time the best friends get together in the end. Which is wonderful, I love that! But I wanted to write one in which they didn’t, one in which that wasn’t even an option. I wanted to write one where they love each other but are not each other’s love interests. I think it’s still kind of a love story between those two, just not a romantic one. They have their romantic love stories with Danny and Sophia, and those were a lot of fun to write too. But the spark was the friendship idea for me.
Which character was most fun for you to write?
Hmm. Good question. Linus and Meg were fun in different ways. I enjoyed writing both of them so much. Getting to know Linus was easy from the beginning. Meg was a bit more difficult for me at first, because I needed longer to figure her out and understand the way her mind works. But once I got a handle on her, I had so much fun putting myself in her shoes.
I love them both. I can’t choose between them. Writing Linus was a very comfortable and sunshiny kind of fun, while writing Meg was a more exciting and rolling-my-eyes-in-fond-exasperation kind of fun. For all the things they have in common, they’re also very different, and hanging out with Meg was different than hanging out with Linus. But I loved both.
Have you ever built a snow alien? What would you name it?
I have indeed! Several winters ago I built a snow Vulcan! …Well, at least it was a snowman with pointy ears. He actually looked a lot more like a rabbit. But building snow aliens is not as easy as it sounds! I mean, Vulcans are still relatively easy. Try building a snow ALF if you ever have the chance, and good luck keeping the nose from falling off!
If I’d build a snow alien now I’d take a more creative approach and make up my own kind of alien. As for names – that depends on what he or she would look like once I’m done. I’m going to go with the easiest way of creating alien names and just sneak an apostrophe in there. So Clara and Fred are now Cla’Ra and F’Red.
Who would play your characters in a movie?
Oh well, if I could choose, I’d like Jennifer Lawrence for Meg! Or Molly Quinn. A combination of the two would be fantastic. And as for Linus – I can’t think of anyone the right age (or height, he needs to be short), but I’m sure there’s an actor out there somewhere who looks like a mix of a younger Dominic Barnes and a younger Matthew Lewis. Also less tall.
For Danny… maybe a young Utkarsh Ambudkar, and then Samantha Ware or Aja Naomi King as Sophia. That sounds like a really good cast to me.
What makes you swoon?
People who genuinely like each other. Friendship. People caring about each other. I love stories in which characters connect through more than just mutual attraction to each other. Give me two people who are interested in each other and value each other and are each other’s biggest fans. And I don’t mean joined-at-the-hip, never disagreeing about anything. No. People fight and people do stupid things and people screw up sometimes, that’s only natural.
I love stories that reflect that. Two people who are not just in love, but also in like. Who love hanging out together, and really and truly enjoy each other’s company. Flaws and all. I really just love it when I can see that connection between two characters. We all just want to be liked, don’t we? How awesome is it to see two people give each other that?