Interview: Kaitlyn Hill talks Not Here To Stay Friends and more

Not Here to Stay Friends. Image courtesy Random House Children's Books
Not Here to Stay Friends. Image courtesy Random House Children's Books /

Sometimes, you immediately click with an author’s writing style. For me, that was Kaitlyn Hill.

You might recognize her name from her debut novel, Love From Scratch. It was released in April 2022 and followed two interns as a Buzzfeed-like company that end up becoming a viral sensation. It’s honestly a really fun story and such a fast-paced read that I read it in one sitting.

That’s why I was so excited when Delacorte Press reached out to me and asked if I’d want to read her 2023 release, Not Here To Stay Friends, and interview her. It did take some minor organizing on my part, but I made it happen and I’m so happy I did because Kaitlyn Hill is lovely.

If you haven’t picked up her debut book, Love From Scratch, then you might be more than intrigued by her upcoming release, Not Here To Stay Friends which we discuss heavily during this interview.

Kaitlyn Hill talks Not Here To Stay Friends, reality shows, and upcoming projects!

Before getting into the interview, I’d like to thank Kaitlyn Hill for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to me honestly, she was a dream. These answers are so great and, to be honest, I feel like we’re besties now. (At least in my mind!) but let’s get into the interview.

Kaitlyn Hill
Author Kaitlyn Hill. Image courtesy Kaitlyn Hill /

Culturess: Not Here To Stay Friends focuses on a show very similar to The Bachelor. While you were writing, did you watch a few seasons or were you inspired by other reality dating shows?

Kaitlyn Hill: Ha, “a few seasons”! For better and for worse, I’ve been watching all the Bachelor franchise shows for way too long. So I didn’t have to do much extra research on how reality dating shows work, and that was definitely the strongest influence. I do enjoy just about every other show in this genre, but for what I wanted to do, the single lead + many contestants model worked best. The idea of the show’s lead being a popular teen actor was also loosely inspired by media I was too young to be watching when it came out, specifically the movies Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and I Wanna Marry Ryan Banks. Deep cuts, both released before most of my teen readers were born, both apparently imprinted on preteen Kaitlyn’s brain in 2004!

Culturess: Speaking of TV shows, I have to ask because so many shows were popping into my mind while reading. Did you base The Cove on any teen drama shows in particular?

Kaitlyn Hill: I love to hear what shows it makes readers think of! It’s an amalgamation of the many teen dramas–my second-favorite TV genre after reality romance–I’ve gotten into in my life, but probably most influenced by One Tree Hill, The OC, Riverdale, and Outer Banks. I also love the completely bonkers show-within-a-show concept from shows of my childhood–like the fake teen soap operas Moody’s Point from The Amanda Show, and MacKenzie Falls from Sonny with a Chance (more deep cuts!). I tried to give The Cove that kind of almost-parody feel, with ridiculous quotes at the beginning of the chapters and references to wild plot points.

Culturess: I adore friends-to-lovers stories and Not Here To Stay Friends was exactly what I’m looking for from a friends-to-lovers story. Were you always planning on writing a friends-to-lovers story or did you have something else planned at first?

Kaitlyn Hill: I’m so glad to hear it! I love friends to lovers, too, but it wasn’t initially the plan for this one. When I first started to brainstorm a reality dating show-centered romance, the obvious choice seemed to be having Sloane fall for the lead of the show, who she’d be dating alongside all his other girlfriends. But as I figured out more of who I wanted Sloane to be, what her background was, how she’d ever end up on this show, the idea for Liam came about. Once he was in my head, he was a pretty dynamic character from the jump, with his reality TV producer dad and his job behind the scenes, and everything else fell into place from there. I’m glad it did, because I loved exploring the journey from childhood friends to “wait, you got hot since I saw you last” to “what are these feelings I’m having?” and onward.

Culturess: Aside from the romance in the story, one thing I couldn’t get enough of was Sloane’s friendships with most of her roommates. Would you ever plan on giving us their stories or giving us romances for them?

Kaitlyn Hill: If the right idea came up for any of them, I’d be open to it! I love romance spin-offs that follow side characters, and had a great time writing the different girls Sloane befriends. Or be-enemies, in the case of my prickly queen Peyton. 

Culturess: As someone who is no longer in the YA age range, I must ask if you’ve ever thought about writing adult romances or if you have any plans to write an adult romance eventually.

Kaitlyn Hill: I’ve absolutely thought about it! And may or may not have started and stopped a couple attempts! I read adult romance more than any other genre and would love to join the ranks of those genius kissing book crafters one of these days. 

Culturess: Last but not least, what do you have in the works right now? Any releases/news you can share with us?

Kaitlyn Hill: I’ve been revising my third young adult romance, Wild About You, coming out summer 2024! It’s the last in my little trio of reality TV showmances and follows Natalie, a side character (yay!) from my first book, Love from Scratch. She’s a sassy, theater-loving girl who goes on an Amazing Race meets Survivor, wilderness competition show set on the Appalachian Trail, where she’s partnered with grumpy-but-unfortunately-hot Finn. Usually whatever book I’m working on at the moment is my favorite, and this one owns my heart right now. Can’t wait for y’all to read it!

If you guys couldn’t tell, I absolutely adored talking to Kaitlyn and as I said, she’s my new bestie. I loved all of her deep-cut references and this was just so much fun. Honestly, if you’re looking to read a reality-show romance and enjoy friends-to-lovers, Not Here To Stay Friends is a must-read for this year.

dark. Next. In Nightfall by Suzanne Young is the vampire thriller you need

Not Here To Stay Friends by Kaitlyn Hill is releasing on April 4th, 2023. 

Did you learn anything new from our interview with Kaitlyn Hill? Do you have a favorite reality-show romance book? Let us know in the comments!