Author Interview: Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
What are some of your favorite rom-coms – and how does your love life compare? Better Than the Movies is getting love across the book-sphere and we are thrilled to have chatted with author Lynn Painter about her debut! Check out a little about Wes and Liz and what you should watch when you’re finished with Better Than the Movies!
Better Than the Moviesby Lynn Painter
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
on May 4, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.
Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.
The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.
But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.
Interview with Lynn Painter
Tell us about Liz and Wes. What motivates them in life?
Liz Buxbaum is ALL ABOUT true love. Rom-coms are her comfort shows – partially because they remind her of her late mother – and over the course of her life, she’s watched her favorites hundreds of times. She full-on believes in running-through-the-train-station big love, and expects it will happen for her…well, any time now. But as hard as she tries to make herself into the perfect protagonist of her own real-life rom-com, underneath it all she’s still “little Liz,” the owl-eyed kid who used to put-on ridiculous one-woman musicals about romance while the other neighborhood kids played kickball (and occasionally pegged her in the face with their balls).
Wes Bennett, her next-door neighbor, is one of those former neighborhood kids. He’s a laid-back guy, the kind of guy who everyone likes; everyone but Liz. One of his favorite pastimes has always been messing with her, so lines get a little blurred for him when he agrees to pretend to have the hots for her.
Better Than the Movies is all about those HEAs. Is there a movie you’ve seen that you expected to have a HEA that didn’t? How would you rewrite the ending?
Okay – this is probably a wrong answer, but I have to say La-La-Land. I mean, yes, you could technically say the ending is happy because it’s hopeful; neither of the main characters die in a fiery crash and their whole lives are in front of them. But dang it, when I get emotionally-invested in a romance, I need those characters end up together. I was SHOCKED by that plot-twist and to be honest, I still can’t hear the xylophone-heavy soundtrack without feeling a microscopic amount of residual heartbreak.
If I could re-write the ending, I would show Mia’s wedding; we didn’t see that in the movie.
Mia, standing in the church enclave, is waiting to walk down the aisle, lost in thought. As she stands frozen, surrounded by bustling bridesmaids, she notices that the music being played in the chapel has changed. The classical piano arrangement has been replaced with City of Stars, the song she sang with Sebastian at his piano. She opens the door to the chapel and peeks inside. She sees her groom, talking to his best man in the front of the church, and she looks content as her eyes drink him in. But as her gaze finds the piano and she sees Sebastian, playing their song, her entire face is transformed by the enormity of her grin.
Yeah – I’m not saying I could write a good ending, just a happy one for Sebastian and Mia.
When people finish and LOVE Better Than the Movies, what would you recommend they watch or read next?
If you finish and love Better Than The Movies, I would suggest downing a visual sampler of classic rom-coms. 10 Things I Hate About You, You’ve Got Mail, Notting Hill – immerse yourself in the glorious happy powers of the rom-com. If you’re looking for something shorter and made for a smaller screen, re-explore New Girl, because Liz reminds me a lot of Jessica Day. As far as books go, I’d recommend The Unhoneymooners. It’s one of my favorite enemies-to-lovers that is laugh-out-loud funny, and the post-wedding digestive catastrophe reminds me of something that could happen to Liz.