Auriane Desombre, Author of "I Think I Love You"
Way back in 2017, the last year I attempted to get into Pitch Wars, I received an email that would, unbeknownst to me at the time, be one of the most important of my life.
No, it wasn’t an email congratulating me on my acceptance into Pitch Wars. It was an email from one Auriane Desombre, with whom I had briefly connected and shared pages with in preparation for our entries, asking me for tips on freelance writing.
And with that fateful email, I embarked upon one of my favorite friendships.
Today I’m so excited because Desombre’s debut YA novel, I Think I Love You (Underlined Paperbacks, Mar. 2, 2021) is finally releasing into the world after a nine-month delay due to the pandemic. So I hopped on the phone with my friend and we chatted about writing, her debut, and more.
Desombre said she’s always been a writer — as a child, in fact, she used to write stories about her dog (readers of I Think I Love You who encounter Lady Catulet the cat will smile to realize she has been on-brand for years). In middle school, she began writing books, saying, “They were all extremely bad. I do still have them and look back on them sometimes just for a good cringe moment.”
In 2018, Desombre won entry into Pitch Wars with a draft of what would become her debut, and she said that is when she started taking her writing career more seriously.
The book was initially scheduled for release in June of 2020, but due to the pandemic was pushed back nine months.
“Honestly, as hard as it was to wait so much more time than I thought I was going to, I think it was a really good call,” Desombre said about her publisher’s decision to delay the book’s publication. “We’re in a much better place now than we were. It’ll give me the space to enjoy the debut process a little more.”
An additional boon is that Desombre’s original publishing timeline was quite tight, by industry standards, so the delay actually slowed things down to a more traditional timeline.
While she was in Pitch Wars, Desombre was also a grad student in not one but two graduate programs (a Writing for Children and Young Adult program at The New School, and an English MA at NYU). This was also the time period when she signed with her agent and, eventually, her editor, so the entire time she was getting two degrees she was on a tight publishing schedule as well.
“It sounds really chaotic when you say it all like that, but it was really fun,” Desombre recalled. “I was really busy, but I feel like everything I was doing was exactly what I wanted to be doing. I was pushing myself, filling all my time with doing things that I really cared about. It was a great exercise in being extremely busy.”
From her MFA at The New School, Desombre said she took away a great community of writer friends, people who were interested in the same type of writing as she was.
As for her MA at NYU, Desombre was one of only two people in her cohort who had an interest in kidlit. “We wrote our theses on YA books. It gave me the chance to think about books and writing in a place where — think about YA books in a world where people didn’t really know a lot about them and they’re not always taken very seriously,” she said. “By the end of it, most of my professors were pretty into it. I did a few projects that were really well-received.”
I Think I Love You is a Much Ado About Nothing retelling with flavors of Jane Austen’s Emma thrown in for good measure, or, as Desombre put it in a so-called “elevator pitch,” “a YA enemies-to-lovers rom-com set over the course of a summer film festival following Emma and Sophia as they compete to make a short film for this competition.”
It was originally written as a screenplay, which Desombre then adapted into manuscript form, saying it was a “fun time.”
As for the best part of the process, Desombre said she really enjoyed copyedits.
“Every note she had I was just astounded and I just had so much fun,” she said. “I also had a fair amount, because my first draft of the book was in winter and then it was changed to summer.”
Desombre currently works as a teacher while still writing during her free time. She encouraged aspiring or new authors to have fun with writing.
“I feel like I really enjoy writing, and I love drafting. The writing part of the publishing process is so much fun for me,” she said. “Hold onto those feelings of enjoying writing as an activity. Don’t let any fears of the industry/confusion take that away from you.”
In addition, she strongly recommended finding writer friends. As someone whose own writing journey has been greatly improved by friends (including Desombre), I’d have to agree that is a crucial part of surviving in this industry.
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