An Interview with YA Author Robin Constantine -- Jen Doktorski

Robin Constantine is the author of four YA novels. THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, THE SECRETS OF ATTRACTION, THE SEASON OF YOU & ME,  and her June 2023 release, SOMEONE YOU LOVED.

A deeply emotional and highly romantic tale of two teens who fall in love while grieving the one person who makes their love impossible, in the vein of You’ve Reached Sam and The Sky Is Everywhere. 

Sarah feels unmoored following her boyfriend’s sudden and tragic death. Their love story was cut short after just two sweet months together, and now all Sarah can think about are the moments she and Alex should be sharing. Sarah distracts herself by consoling Ash—her best friend and Alex’s sister—and by rehearsing for the school play and working at her aunt’s café. But none of this is as comforting as her nightly talks with Jake.

Jake is not ready to move on. Unable to sleep at night and “mopey”— according to his girlfriend, who doesn’t understand why he isn’t ready to jump back into partying—Jake is wracked with guilt as a witness to Alex’s death. His one source of joy is talking to Sarah. But between their growing closeness and taking over as captain of the basketball team, Jake worries he is co-opting Alex’s life.

Both can’t help but wonder if they’re betraying Alex—and Ash—by acting on the feelings they can no longer deny. Given all that stands in the way, is their relationship worth fighting for?

I met Robin in real life for the first time in 2018 when she kindly reached out and invited me to do a signing with her at The Little Boho Bookshop, an amazing indie bookstore in Bayonne, New Jersey, with an equally amazing owner. But prior to our meeting, I'd always been a fan! When I asked her if she'd like to do something old school, like a Q&A on YAOTL, she graciously agreed!

Here at YAOTL we've been talking (re: blogging) a lot about how much has changed in our corner of the publishing universe. I mean, Twitter is an X now. What's next? Talk about how pub day for SOMEONE YOU LOVED was different from that of your previous YA novels.  

 Wow - such a great question! The time leading up to pub day is what really changed for me. A big difference was there were no printed ARCs for SOMEONE YOU LOVED. Only e-books and computer-generated audio (which was new). Aside from giveaways for advanced copies, I also used to use my ARCs as a way to introduce myself to new booksellers. So not having that physical copy for promotion, felt a bit strange. Blog tours were more of a promotional tool when my other books came out.  Whether or not that translated into any kind of book sales - doing interviews, guest spots, and blog tours, at least felt proactive.  This time around, I focused mostly on making content for Instagram. That’s the place I’m most comfortable.I actually enjoy making reels, but it’s work. I made a content schedule leading up to release day and a little beyond and stuck to it. That helped so much! It was about two to three hours of work putting together the content, but it was worth it to be able to know exactly what I was going to post. Now it’s a matter of keeping up with it and that’s tough on some days. I know the place to be is TikTok, but I’m leery about joining, even though I’m probably missing out. Social media changes so quickly, I feel like by the time I got the hang of it, something else would come along and replace it. The social media aspect is definitely the biggest change this time around. I haven’t been active on Twitter for a while. While it was always my least favorite place on social media - it seems to be even more polarizing lately.  I liked it more when it felt like a water cooler, and there was a bookish community. Book promotion is more visual now and it seems like there’s no way to really know what’s working and what’s not. 

As for my actual pub day - my launch this time was in my hometown in a great little bookstore, and the owner made me feel like a rock star, so that was nice!  A lot of family and friends came out, and it was so great to feel that support in person. It was a fun night!

I know I already told you this, but reading SOMEONE YOU LOVED re-ignited my love of YA. You have a gift for capturing the inner lives of teens. What drew you to write YA? 

 Aw, thank you so much! When I first joined SCBWI it was with the intention to write picture books, and I tried for a while, but nothing really caught fire for me. I’ve always loved reading coming of age stories, so I started fooling around with an idea and never looked back.  YA is where my writing voice naturally fell. Snarky, sarcastic, impulsive, lovestruck. Teens are fun to write about.  I love that the teen years are such an emotionally charged part of life. Everything is new and monumental. There’s built-in drama in everyday life.

As I fellow born-and-raised, proud Jersey girl, the landscape of your novels is so familiar to me. What makes you choose to set your books in the Garden State? Any plans to set future books elsewhere? 

You know the saying write what you know? I was struggling to break in, my agent was shopping around a novel that had gotten some interest but ultimately did not sell.  I kept getting rejections like “Love the voice, but…” , so I started to really think about what I knew, and what could set me apart in a saturated and competitive market. And while I don’t think New Jersey itself is what helped me break in - I think it was writing from a genuine place, and a place I knew in my bones. I’m from an urban, working-class NJ town - a place where family roots are deep, and everyone is six degrees of separation from everyone else.  My books are filled with people and places I experienced - so much so that friends would ask me “Who is this character based on?”  and “Did that happen to us?” I definitely drew from real life for some of my characters, but they are usually an amalgamation of several people and then become someone different altogether. The guys all talk like guys I knew in high school. I went to an all-girl private Catholic high school, and that comes through a lot in my books. I am still close with my high school friends - so while I like to write about romance, all my books have female friendships too because that has been such a big part of my life.  When I write - it’s always New Jersey I picture, but it’s bits and pieces of different places that come together in the story as a whole.  

I think my books will always have a little Jersey in them, but I’m definitely thinking of expanding my horizons for future books! 

It isn't easy to pull off a dual POV novel, but you do it so well! In SOMEONE YOU LOVED we see the story unfold through the eyes of Jake and Sarah. Whose story came to you first? 

Thank you again! There’s usually a point in the middle of writing when I think “Why am I writing dual POV again?” but it’s because I love seeing the story from different perspectives. SOMEONE YOU LOVED was actually written through Sarah’s eyes. I thought about what it would be like being at the very beginning of a relationship, when everything is wonderfully overwhelming, and then having all of that potential taken away. Where do all those expectations go? What happens to all those strong feelings? They don’t just disappear, they have to be worked out somehow. I wrote Sarah’s first chapter several times before writing Jake’s, but when I finally let Jake speak, he wouldn’t shut up. I loved him and his role in the story immediately. The novel evolved and became a much sweeter and heartfelt book about finding joy through grief.  It always seems like I aim to write edgy and angry, but end up falling back into hopeful, with lots of kissing. I absolutely adore the finished product. I think it may be my favorite so far. 

What books are in your beach bag this summer?

 A mix of books! 

Walking with Sam - Andrew McCarthy                                            

Crying at the H Mart - Michelle Zauner

One Italian Summer - Rebecca Serle

The Queens of New York - E.L. Shen

What's next for you?

I’ve taken the summer off from writing, but I do have two ideas I’ve been mulling over, one is a YA and one is an adult book. When summer is over, I’m going to sit down and sketch out both ideas and see which one I want to pursue!  

Thanks for having me on YAOTL, Jen!

(For signed copies of SOMEONE YOU LOVED, visit the Little Boho Bookshop.)


  1. Congrats on Someone You Loved--and thanks for stopping by YAOTL, Robin!

  2. (John Clark) Very much looking forward to reading this.


Post a Comment