On the day before I was scheduled for our interview with Ali Hazelwood, the news broke that her debut novel, The Love Hypothesis, was a New York Times bestseller, ranking #9 on the list of print bestsellers and at #11 on the combined list of print and ebook bestsellers.
It is not surprising that Hazelwood cannot recall precisely what she thought when she received the news from her editor at Berkley Publishing: “I remember eating grilled cheese and trying not to choke.” There’s no surprise here, given that the book has been causing a massive stir among a specific section of TikTok recently – and it’s no secret that The Love Hypothesis’s origin story adds an interesting element to the book.
The Love Hypothesis is an entirely original work, but there are still some nods to its beginnings, like the cover. In addition to being completely original, there are still some nods to Hazelwood’s past as a fanfiction writer who became a published author. The interview I had with Hazelwood, which you can read below, covered many topics.
These include the fact that both her fanfic background and her STEM background influenced her writing of The Love Hypothesis, particularly the scenes that didn’t make the final cut. In addition, she can tease about her next book.
Source: Congratulations on the book of how it came to be, but for those who don’t, what’s the genesis behind The Love Hypothesis?
Ali HazelWood: Honestly, a lot was just luck and chance, and I had many opportunities. I wrote many fanfictions in the past, first for the Star Trek fandom and later for the Star Wars fandom. I enjoyed it very much. There was just something so unique about this community. I couldn’t put it into words.
Through the program, I made many friends and had a good time. After that, I started to think about writing something original. This was to challenge me and try something different, and I gradually began to think about writing something original. I was happy when my agent sent me a direct message on AO3.
She read my fanfiction on AO3 and reached out through DM. There was something that she wrote somewhere, and it was like, “I saw that you wrote something about you pulling some of your fanfics and reworking them, and I wanted to let you know that I’m a literary agent and I would love to see some of your manuscripts if you’re interested in it.”
Source: The Number of Autor who likes, “I totally got my background in fanfiction and there’s nothing with that,” is increasing. Christina Lauren is one of the more famous Examples.
Ali HazelWood: Christiana Lauren, excellent.
Source: Or even authors today who are like, Oh Yeah, I’m writing this mainstream book, but I still have an AO3 profile. So I appreciated that we’re seeing the barriers break down around what the public perception of fanfiction is and how it really is such a great breeding ground for authors to find their voice.
Ali HazelWood: Without a doubt. Fan fiction is one of the most engaging forms of storytelling. It’s inspiring that you have found your voice in this. You have been able to explore things you aren’t usually able to do with traditional publishing. However, there is also something special about feeling like you are part of a community, getting to know people, and meeting someone like-minded and interested in similar things.
As an adult, it’s complicated to make friends because it’s so difficult to get along with them. Through fanfiction and the fandom community, I have found my adult friends, which is a beautiful feeling for me. In addition, I express my deepest gratitude to my publisher for embracing the fanfiction part of the book. For the cover, we’ll use fanart or fanfiction if that’s what you want to do.
We will use fanart creation for the back. They were very accommodating about that. There is no doubt that traditional publishing is becoming increasingly interested in fan fiction as the form becomes more popular. I know they’re doing well, maybe because of money and marketing and stuff like that, but I’m glad this is happening. That fanfiction is gaining legitimacy because it’s always had legitimacy in the first place.
Source: I want to talk a little bit too about the setting of the book, and I know your personal background is in STEM. So did that inform your inspiration on where to set the story, drawing from your own experience?
Ali HazelWood: Yes, I agree with you 100%. In the past few years, I’ve wanted to write fanfiction set in academia simply because it’s an exciting field… Right now, I’m a professor, and I’ve spent most of my adult life in the academic world. If I were to write anything else in any other setting in a strange way, I would find it difficult.
As a result, it was just a more natural setting for a story to take place in. There will be a book set in academia in the third book of my series and a book set in academia in the next book. I can do that quite quickly because I am most proficient at that.
Source: My favorite thing about the book is how it references romance tropes but then subverts them. I’m thinking specifically about the only-one-bed scene, and then there’s not only one bed, which felt like a really funny wink at romance readers. What made you decide to include that meta-awareness in the story?
Ali HazelWood: Honestly, it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Having said that, if the story had not been fanfic, I wouldn’t have included that. I posted it chapter by chapter. I wrote it chapter by chapter. It is difficult for me to forget all the comments that said, “They will go to the conference, and there will only be one bed available for them.”
Consequently, I started talking to people in the fandom. I want to say that a kind of collective effort was involved there. People were writing fiction about their iterations of the same characters simultaneously. I just had such a memorable time doing this.
Source: You had talked about how when you were reworking the fic for publication, there were a lot of edits, and I’m assuming a lot of things ended up on the chopping block. Is there a deleted scene that didn’t make it into the final novel that you maybe wished you could have kept in?
Ali HazelWood: Adam and Olive are not breaking up because of it, but when she enters his hotel room and says to him, “It’s over.” As a matter of fact, in that scene, they ended up having sex, as per their original plans.
At the time, we had a kiss there, but we decided it would be more poignant, or I don’t know, more heartfelt if it was only a kiss. There was a sense of success, in a way, but the fanfiction writer within me misses it in a way.
Source: Let them have one more time!
Ali HazelWood: A part of me wanted to keep that sex scene, but honestly, we talked about it – my editor, my agent, and I – and it turned out to be a wise choice from the perspective of story structure.
Source: So you mentioned you’ve got a second and third book in the works. I’m sure you probably can’t really talk about book three yet, but is there anything you can tease about book two coming up?
Ali HazelWood: In Book Two, we are introduced to a neuroscientist who is selected for a NASA project, and he is assigned to work on it. This is a massive opportunity for her, as she is ecstatic about it until she discovers that the person she is appointed to co-lead the project with is someone she used to work with in the past, and they are enemies at the moment.
She thinks they are enemies, or at least they are enemies, which is one of those things. It was a positive experience to cooperate with them on this project, which is the story of their collaboration. There is a release date of August 2022 for this film.
Source: I thought it would be fun to wrap up with a couple of rapid-fire questions. Enemies-to-lovers, or friends-to-lovers?
Ali HazelWood: Enemy-to-lovers.