Romance writer Abby Jimenez has been a favorite amongst readers everywhere since her debut release The Friend Zone in 2019. Both a baker and writer, her novels are the perfect blend of sweet and sassy and exactly the kind of fun romance we need in our lives right now. With her latest release, The Happy Ever After Playlist, due to publish in just a few weeks, we’re absolutely ecstatic to host Abby as our latest Guest Editor.
This April, we’ll be getting to know Abby, her favorite books and what she can’t wait to read next.
What was the inspiration behind The Happy Ever After Playlist?
The theme of the book was actually inspired by real-life events. A close friend of mine lost her husband unexpectedly and I watched her struggle for years with complicated grief.
I remember thinking what a strange in-between place she seemed to be in. Two years after his death, she was past the initial devastation. She didn’t cry over it anymore. She took showers and cleaned her house and functioned. But she just wasn’t whole. Something inside of her had been disrupted and she couldn’t seem to figure out how to get herself back.
When I looked back on writing this book, I realized that it was my way of working through my own feelings of loss. I lost her. I wanted to do for Sloan all the things that I couldn’t do for my friend. I wanted to heal her, put her back together again, make her someone I recognized.
Grief is not a straight line. There’s no one thing that makes it better. You can take steps forward and then fall back. You can have good days and then bad ones again. It’s a journey, not a destination, because you never really get over it. You just learn how to move forward. And this book is about Sloan moving forward, and rediscovering the parts of herself that she recognizes. Getting out of that in-between.
We know that you’ve had an incredibly successful career as a baker but when did you know you wanted to write books, too?
I never had a vision of being an author. I mean, I’ve loved to read my whole life and I took creative writing in high school. But writing books? Never thought I could do something like that.
Then one day in a tent on a camping trip in the Boundary Waters when we were rained in, I started telling my kids about this story I’d thought up. It was a young adult sci-fi romance. They loved it and they encouraged me to write it down. So I started cranking out these chapters so I could read them to the kids when they got home from school. A few months later I had a whole, awful, hot mess of a book that nobody will ever see! Ha!
I actually queried this horrible book to an agent and she gently told me I might benefit from some crit buddies. So I got on Critique Circle and ran the first few chapters of this book through–and was immediately told how bad it was. One thing I kept hearing though was that I was great with dialogue. So I decided to trunk the YA and start again. This time I decided to write a contemporary romance and I decided that I was going to have the characters separated so they could get to know each other on the phone and I could do lots of that great dialogue everyone loved so much.
The new book got rave reviews on the site. I was so encouraged that I decided to query an agent with it. That book was The Happy Ever After Playlist. While we were in submissions to publishers, I had the idea to go back in time and write Kristen and Josh’s love story so we could live through the events that make Sloan who she is in this next book. That book was The Friend Zone. We led with The Friend Zone as my debut novel since it came first chronologically, and my writing career began.
It’s been a wild ride. I never expected any of this.
Which authors do you admire most?
I love LJ Shen’s hustle. I don’t know how she does it. She’s so great at self-promotion and I really admire that. And she’s constantly putting out new books and they’re SO GOOD. When does she sleep? But honestly, this is true for so many romance authors. Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Sarah Maclean, Alyssa Cole, Sally Thorne. There’s too many to list. Romance authors are their own brand of badasses.