Casey McQuiston says their new time-travel romance book is different from 'Red, White, and Royal Blue' in a 'really fun way'
- Casey McQuiston is the bestselling author of the queer romance novel "Red, White, and Royal Blue."
- Their second book, "One Last Stop," a time-travel rom-com, will be released on June 1.
- Insider spoke to McQuiston about what they're most excited about with the upcoming release.
For most romance book lovers, Casey McQuiston is a household name.
It became an instant New York Times bestseller thanks to McQuiston's vivid characters and warm writing style, which blends internet slang with rich descriptions you could find in love stories from any century.
On June 1, McQuiston will release their second novel, "One Last Stop." The book follows August Landry, a cynical sleuth who moves to New York City with the intention of staying detached from everyone she meets.
But then August meets Jane Su, a leather-jacket-clad commuter she is attracted to as soon as she sees her on the Q train.
Jane is everything August has been looking for, aside from one small problem: She's a time traveler from the '70s who has been trapped on the train for 40 years.
Insider spoke to McQuiston about how the time-traveling romance came to be ahead of its release.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
McQuiston has always wanted to write a love story that bends time
Why do you write with such a playful and relatable tone?
I try really hard, not just in the dialogue but also in the narration, to be really voicey and conversational. I never want my narration or any part of my book to feel super stiff or stilted or something you couldn't imagine your friends saying out loud.
I think the biggest key to writing really good ensemble banter is to surround yourself with funny people in real life. I have really funny friends, and I'm always mentally taking notes on what our conversations are like or our group chats.
When we're all sitting around at a picnic in Central Park having a debate about whether or not you would kill your clone, that is life. When you put stuff that's inspired by real life in your book, it makes it really resonate. So my best advice to aspiring rom-com writers is to make funny friends.
Your characters are often inspired by real people, but what inspired you to write a time-travel rom-com?
I really love anything that messes with timelines and a love that can transcend time or space. "Outlander" springs to mind.
It just really tickles my brain and has always seemed really romantic to me to have two people whose connection is so powerful that it literally can transcend through dimensions.
I always wanted to try my own take on that, and I wasn't ever really sure what the setup would be. Then, I was on a trip to New York, and I was just taking the subway a lot and it all clicked together to me. I started thinking about the subway and public transit as a liminal space where your life crosses paths with another person's life like five million times for half a second.
Time-travel romance can feel like this really high-brow, grand love like you were saying with "Outlander," but in "One Last Stop," the subway makes the story so much more accessible.
I think that's the whole reason that the book works at all. Everything that wasn't that fantastical part of the story had to feel grounded in reality to make up for how completely unrealistic the central premise of the book was.
The concept of the meet-a-stranger-on-public-transit meet-cute is something that I think anyone who lives in a city has thought about.
For me, any time I encounter a beautiful stranger in public, which is most often these days on public transit, it's like, "Oh my goodness. This is the most beautiful person I've ever seen in my life." And imagine if they looked at me and had that same reaction, and we fell in love and spent the rest of our lives together.
One of my friends met her husband because they got in the back of the same cab. I didn't realize that still happens in real life.
It almost has to be the design of the universe for you to cross paths with your soulmate in that moment. And I think that that's one of the most romantic things that I can think of - we were in the right place at the right time.
With my current partner, there are moments that we crossed paths before we met each other and didn't know it. To me, that romance is that the universe put you in each other's paths.
Maybe I am the kind of person who is always looking for signs from the universe, but when there's some type of fate element to a love story, it really, really elevates it.
'One Last Stop' has similar themes to 'Red, White, and Royal Blue,' but McQuiston shows their growth as an author in the book
In "One Last Stop," you give us so much of August longing for Jane before they're actually together. There are these really rich descriptions of Jane as someone to desire. That's a common theme in romance in general, but it's kind of turning it on its head to have it be in a woman-loving-woman (wlw) context.
When I set out to write this book, one of my objectives was to write a book in which the love interest is a butch lesbian. This is somebody who is, on the page, described as somebody worth longing for because I don't think that butch lesbians get their due. Especially in romance, I feel like we always need more of them.
But in terms of longing, I think that so much of the queer experience is yearning. I think that all love stories should have some element of yearning to be compelling, but when it's a queer love story, I feel like if you don't have that element of yearning, it sometimes doesn't work.
How is your work continuing to evolve?
As I get older, my approach to romance in general is getting tighter in scope. I feel like with my first book I was just going to throw everything in the world in this, and the setting is literally the world and it is as big as it can get.
With my second book, I was like, "Alright, we're going to shrink it down into the smaller world." And then my third book is an even more intimate setting of just one small town.
I'm becoming more interested in less big, loud stories and more smaller, quiet settings that can feel as big. I'm interested in finding a way for a romance to be tighter and more intimate and more nuanced and still feel like a confetti-raining-down type of happy ever after.
And that's so true to life. The really small moments are what change your whole life.
Yeah. The things that I find most universally relatable are actually incredibly specific and personal.
McQuiston is eager for readers to meet the characters in 'One Last Stop'
What are you feeling most excited about for readers to see in "One Last Stop"?
No offense to Henry, but I do think that Jane is my favorite love interest I've written so far. I think that she's big-time book girlfriend material, and I really want to see her have her day. I want to see people in love with Jane.
I'm also just really proud of some of the plot stuff that goes on in this book and a lot of the callbacks. There are just so many small details that I've been freaking out about privately that I'm excited for other people to experience them.
And also I really love the supporting cast. I'm really excited to see which character is going to be the one that people kind of adopt.
-casey mcquiston ⚡️ 13 days until ONE LAST STOP (@casey_mcquiston) May 17, 2021
It's so easy to pick people from your books to adopt because chosen family is a big theme in both of your novels.
I think that's another thing that is a really integral part of queer life is the found family. I really, really wanted to explore that in as many ways as I could in this book.
There are characters who are literally looking for family members and trying to find them. And there are characters like August and Wes and even Jane who are maybe more isolated or estranged from their families and have to create their own from the people that they meet. I wanted to explore that from pretty much every angle I could think of in this book.
We have a lot of conversations, especially when we talk about queer fiction, about found family and its place in the genre because it is something that a lot of people really rely on.
"One Last Stop" was really, really fun to write and really rewarding. My hope is that if there are readers who do feel isolated and haven't found their people yet, that this book would be a little bit of wish fulfillment for them. Like, "I will find my people."
And they can take comfort in these fictional people until then.
"One Last Stop" is a really, really different book from "Red, White, and Royal Blue." And I am really proud of that.
I promise it's going to still feel like it's by me. It's going to still feel like a Casey McQuiston book. And I think it's going to make you feel just as good at the end, but it's just going to take a very different route to get there in a good way and really fun way.
You can preorder "One Last Stop" here.
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