Today author Neely Tubati Alexander joins me to chat all about her latest novel, Love Buzz! I’m so excited to get to chat with Neely as I have seen Love Buzz all over bookstagram!
Neely! Welcome! Tell us more about Love Buzz!
LOVE BUZZ is the story of Serena Khan, who is attending the Mardi Gras bachelorette party of her estranged cousin. On the last night of the trip, she meets this guy named Julian, and they have this instant connection. Though she tries to fight it, when she gets back home to Seattle, she finds that she can’t stop thinking about him and puts a plan in motion to try to find him. Part rom-com, part the journey to an authentic life, LOVE BUZZ is for readers who love women’s fiction served with a healthy dose of romance.
What inspired you to tell the story of Love Buzz?
There’s a saying: write what you want to read. I love romcoms, and I love stories where women cease control of their own lives. Also, I wrote this story during covid and was very much looking for escapist reads when the world felt so heavy. Unfortunately, it still does. I love nothing more than escaping into a feel-good love story that might even make me LOL. I hope to have given readers these things in LOVE BUZZ.
Who was your favorite character to craft in Love Buzz?
That’s hard! Though besides Serena, the main character, I’d have to say, Odette. I love having a tell-it-like-it-is character who will say things off the cuff and perhaps just speak the things everyone is thinking, but nobody has the guts to say. This unfiltered quality is really fun to write and hopefully just as fun to read! Beyond that, I loved writing an elderly character who still has a lot of life to live and a lot to offer. As a society, we tend to discard our older members, overlooking the knowledge and wisdom they have. I loved writing the connection between Odette and Serena and how they both got something equally important out of the relationship.
Did you travel to New Orleans to attend Marti Gras season before crafting this story?
I did not! This was something I was anxious about…writing a place I’d never visited. But I did a lot of research and asked friends who had been or lived there. When writing about a place (one I’ve visited or not), I try to give the “local” experience. The smells, the hidden gems, the quirks—the things one may not know unless they experienced it themselves. In Seattle, it was the cherry blossoms on the Quad of the university, the non-Starbucks coffee shops on every corner, and the way the city comes alive in summer. I truly hope I did both locations justice!
What chapter are you most excited for readers to read?
I hope readers enjoy the meet-cute between Serena and Julian in the first two chapters and also the final chapters! The beginning and end of a story are so important, and these scenes really drive the story.
Let’s talk about the cover. I love the mix of colors. Were you involved in the design process?
YES! I adore the cover. I worked with a fabulous designer, Jo, at HarperCollins. She sent a few options, and this one just immediately stood out. I knew I wanted something that felt a little edgier than a typical rom-com cover, given the Nirvana theme, but I still wanted it to capture the fact that it is a love story. I think it captures both aspects beautifully. And the font we used for the title is the same font as the Nirvana logo—that was my idea!
How long did it take you to craft Love Buzz?
I drafted pretty fast in about three months. But this book came after I had put the first book in the drawer, so I was hell-bent on ensuring I could do it again, successfully this time. From there, there was a lot of editing and then more editing, and then even more editing once I signed with my agent and publisher. You really have to be okay with editing to be an author, ha! Overall, this book took about two years from word one to publication, which, all things considered, is a very short journey!
Did you always want to be an author?
Yes! But it took a long time to get here. Over the course of my life, I have built a large folder of incomplete drafts of books that I couldn’t quite finish. When covid hit, I was finally able to finish my first novel (referenced above). That book ultimately went in the drawer, but it was a huge accomplishment that ultimately led me here to LOVE BUZZ. Thirteen-year-old me is pretty happy right now.
Can readers expect a sequel to Love Buzz?
I don’t think so. Writing LOVE BUZZ was such a wonderful experience, but you live with these characters for so long that by the time it comes out, it’s hard to imagine doing it with them all over again! That said, I am very excited about my second book, which is coming out in early 2024! A whole new cast of quirky characters awaits! Think fake lovers, a tropical setting, a doomsday prepper, and a video game designer…what could go wrong?
Is there anything you want to add before I let you go?
Thank you for the thoughtful questions, and I hope your followers will enjoy LOVE BUZZ!
Thanks for joining us, Neely! If you have any questions for the author be sure to comment below!