Broken at Love by Lyla Payne is her first new adult title. Check out this exclusive interview where Payne discusses antiheroes, becoming a writer and new adult novels.
Tell us five random facts about yourself.
I’m allergic to peanuts, I have a phobia of bees, I eat Chipotle like four days a week, I have the best family in the world, and when I met Joshua Jackson I told him that Charlie Conway (from The Mighty Ducks) was my first crush.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
I’ve always been a big reader, and my high school English teacher encouraged me with compliments on my writing. I have a Film degree, and it was in college that I knew I loved writing — I began with screenplays. A few other professors made comments along the lines of, “you certainly have a way with words,” etc. and then one day I had an idea I thought could be a book.
It did turn into a book, albeit a very, very bad book that hopefully no one ever has to read. My first self-published book was actually the fourth manuscript that I wrote, and Broken at Love is the eleventh. At this point, I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.
You are writing in a fairly new category, new adult. How did you know this was where your story belonged?
It actually wasn’t a hard decision for me at all. I see Broken at Love as more of the fun side of new adult, with certainly its fair share of angst and sad pasts, but the issues are generally born of the inherent malfunctions of the uber wealthy. The original idea felt akin to a story arc on Gossip Girl, to me. That show (and most of the CW shows that I love) is pretty much new adult fiction.
Quinn is not the most likable lead male; how did you come up with his backstory, and did you ever think “oh, maybe that’s too much,” with the things he was doing?
Oh, Quinn. I love this question. I did worry some, but I felt as though I needed to be true to his character and not pull any punches. It was ugly at times, but Quinn was narrating and that’s what was happening inside his head. When I got critique and beta feedback, one of my specific questions was whether or not Quinn was redeemed at the end of the story, and everyone said they couldn’t believe they felt that way, but ultimately yes.
The theme of redemption is one that fascinates me as both a reader and as a writer. Some of my favorite literary characters are guys that some might think irredeemable at the start of a story — Chuck Bass, Damon Salvatore, Jaime Lannister — but as we move through their lives and their issues (and usually how much they actually hate themselves more than anyone), we find that we love them in spite of their flaws.
So, if anyone feels that Quinn isn’t redeemed at the end of Broken at Love, it’s my fault as the writer, not his as the character. I don’t think any character is ever truly past redemption if their story is true.
Except maybe Hitler. And Voldemort.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
It started off as something that sounded fun to me – most of my other stories have super high, universal stakes, like the literal end of the world. It was fun to just write about people whose own hang ups and problems were the biggest issue, but it ended up being more than that.
I have a soft spot for antiheroes (I know you’re shocked, right?) and getting to write one of my very own really appealed to me. Also, I miss Gossip Girl and figured others probably do, too.
What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
That’s a very hard question. I almost want to say the scene at the end where we really see Emilie’s scheming streak, but I think my real favorite is the scene on the beach when Emilie and Quinn really get to know one another for the first time. It fills out their story arc, for me, and makes it obvious why they appeal to one another.
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
I’ve never actually written a shorter piece, but it’s something I’d love to try. So basically all of the ideas I go after are ideas with the potential to be novels.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
“This manuscript isn’t ready. You’re not ready.” Those early criticisms were hard to hear, especially pertaining to a goal that I was determined to attain, but those critiques pushed me to work harder and become a much improved (but still learning!) storyteller.
What has been the best compliment?
My focus is always characters, so any time a reader really connects with a character on an emotional level, or sends me a message about how they can relate, it’s the best kind of compliment.
Do you relate to your main characters, or secondary characters?
Sure, I do. All of them in different ways, I think, and certainly some more than others. As far as Broken at Love goes, Emilie is really the kind of girl I wish I had been more like in college — confident and self-assured, secure in her sexuality and committed to a life without regret.
Do you have things you need in order to write (ie: coffee, cupcakes, music)?
Coffee, of course. Seinfeld DVDs and Hershey’s Kisses, too.
Where’s your favorite place to write?
I have a day job but no children, so snuggled up at home is my favorite place to write.
What is easier to write, the first line or the last line?
The last line, I think, though that’s a hard question. The first line is harder for me because it sets so much of the tone for the book, but there are aspects that can’t be given away. By the end at least all of the spoilers are out and the characters’ voices are in place.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on another book set at Whitman University! There will be a reveal soon about who the main character will be, along with a short blurb, but I’m really excited. Don’t expect the crowd at Whitman to get a whole lot nicer along the way, but I promise they’ll be fun.
When a knee injury ends twenty-year-old Quinn Rowland’s pro tennis career, he’s not only dumped by his hot Russian girlfriend but ordered to attend college by his disinterested billionaire father. A rich kid who’s not used to being disappointed by life, Quinn and his sociopathic half-brother Sebastian create a frat house game intended to treat girls how they see them — as simple game pieces to be manipulated for their pleasure.
College sophomore Emilie Swanson knows Quinn’s reputation — after all, he did send one of her sorority sisters into therapy earlier in the semester — but the game and his charm bring them closer together and soon she starts to believe there’s more to Quinn than people think.
But what if the more is something darker than a game of toying with emotions and breaking hearts?
Quinn and Emilie might be falling for each other, but there are secrets he’s not ready to tell — and lifestyle changes he’s reluctant to make. She willingly stepped on the court, but if Emilie finds out she started out as nothing as a pawn in Quinn and Sebastian’s twisted game, she might never forgive him.
To his surprise, Quinn finds that he might finally care about someone more than he cares about himself…even if that means letting Emilie walk away for good.
I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published young adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first new adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked. In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.