Chloe Liese: On Changing Character Dynamics in Romance

Author Chloe Liese discusses the classic Shakespeare play that inspired her new romance novel, Two Wrongs Make a Right.

Chloe Liese writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humor, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself.

When not dreaming up her next book, Chloe spends her time wandering in nature, playing soccer, and most happily at home with her family and mischievous cats. Learn more at chloeliese.com, and find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Chloe Liese

Photo credit: Chloe Liese

In this post, Chloe discusses the classic Shakespeare play that inspired her new romance novel, Two Wrongs Make a Right, her hope for readers, and more!

Name: Chloe Liese
Literary agent: Samantha Fabien, Root Literary
Book title: Two Wrongs Make a Right
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Release date: November 22, 2022
Genre/category: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Previous titles: The Bergman Brothers series
Elevator pitch for the book: Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

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What prompted you to write this book?

I’m a Shakespeare nerd who’s always enjoyed a good literary retelling. While I’ve seen a lot of lovely Austen retellings, particularly in the romance genre, I’ve been disappointed not to find nearly as many Shakespeare retellings, so the idea’s been in the back of my head for a while.

I was rewatching Much Ado About Nothing starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh (it’s one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and movie adaptations), and I had this thought as I watched it: What would Benedick and Beatrice have done if they’d found out earlier in the play that they’d been tricked and matchmade by their friends?

They would have been livid! In the play, they realize they were duped so late into the story, they’re too happy they’re in love to be mad at the meddlers. But had they found out earlier on, when they were both still so determined to see the worst in each other, they would have been angry at their friends for their trickery.

I loved the idea of two people who didn’t get along and had written each other off being brought together by a revenge plot, determined to prove their friends wrong about their romantic compatibility, only to realize maybe their friends weren’t so wrong after all.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

I wrote my first draft in the fall of 2020 and now it’s being published in the fall of 2022, so from idea to publication, it’s been a two-year journey. While some beats and details shifted and changed (for the better!) during revisions, it fundamentally stayed the same as a concept from initial drafting to publication.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

While Two Wrongs Make a Right is my traditional publishing debut, I’ve self-published before—most notably, so far five out of seven planned books in my Bergman Brothers series since early 2020—so I was pretty familiar with most aspects of publishing already, going into the publication of Two Wrongs Make a Right.

The learning moments for me have been small but mighty, as I’ve absorbed the industry wisdom and expertise of my editor as well as marketing and publicity team. They’ve been so supportive of me, this story, and my vision and hopes for it while also sharing their approach and guiding me on how to best position, market, and share this book so that it has the best chance of finding its readers.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

As I wrote a story about people who honestly cannot stand each other when they first meet (though they are physically drawn to and intrigued by each other), I was surprised by just how tender and caring their dynamic ultimately became.

I love writing characters who tease and banter and play with each other, and while these two definitely do that, there’s a softness, a gentleness, to their treatment of each other that I didn’t expect to develop so richly. I realize now why that came about and how meaningful it is: Because they are both people for whom the world is in a fundamental way more difficult than most (Bea is autistic and Jamie has anxiety), once they recognize that mutual struggle in each other, they want to make each other’s lives easier, safer, more affirming, than the outside world tends to allow.

In short, while I knew I was writing two neurodivergent characters, I hadn’t expected to explore so deeply the beauty and uniquely healing power of relationships between neurodivergent folks, but I’m so glad I did.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope readers feel uplifted and joyful when they read this story, whether or not they’re neurodivergent like Jamie and Bea. I hope that when they finish the last page, they laughed and swooned and smiled, and they felt the affirmation that’s so close to my heart as a writer: That all of us deserve to be known and loved for all of who we are, and that all of us who want it are worthy of joy, romance, passion, and happy endings.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Write what you believe in and what you love to read. To paraphrase Toni Morrison, if there’s a book you’re aching to read but you haven’t found it, that’s the book for you to write.

Join Donna Russo Morin to learn the definition of historical markers and how and where to unearth them. And uncover the tools to integrate history, research, and the fiction plot arc. Most of all, find out how to honor verisimilitude—the goal of any historical writing—and avoid the dreaded anachronism.

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