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Amy Lea is the author of Set on You, which is out now.
Amy Lea is a Canadian bureaucrat by day and contemporary romance author by night (and weekends). She writes laugh out loud romantic comedies featuring strong heroines, witty banter, mid-2000s pop culture references, and happily ever afters.
When Amy is not writing, she can be found fan-girling over other romance books on Instagram (@amyleabooks), eating potato chips with reckless abandon, and snuggling with her husband and goldendoodle.
Here’s the synopsis for Set on You:
Curvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.
Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents’ engagement party.
In the lead up to their grandparents’ wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, they just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength.
Let’s get to know Amy as she talks favorite novels, her writing inspiration, crafting romance novels and more!
What are some of your favorite novels?
My favorite romance is The Simple Wild by KA Tucker and my favorite thriller is My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa. One of my all-time favorite books has to be The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
When did you know you wanted to become an author?
I have always wanted to be a writer since I was old enough to write full sentences in crayon. As a pre-teen, I’d sit for hours on my family desktop secretly writing angsty teen love triangle romances. I stopped writing in my teens and early 20s, and finally got back into it once I started reading romance again as an adult.
What inspired you to write Set on You?
The inspiration for Set on You started with me spending time in the gym people watching (as one does). As an avid romance reader, I can find inspiration for love wherever I go. While dying and profusely sweating in a spin class, it suddenly came to me that the gym would be the perfect place to meet someone, as well as the perfect setting for enemies to lovers shenanigans.
Crystal’s character came to me almost immediately after. I’m drawn to strong, confident main characters in romance. As I fleshed her out, I realized she had a lot to say, and a lot of her journey was inspired by my own experiences. As an Asian girl who grew in an all-white community the 90s/early 2000s, I seldom saw myself represented in books or film, aside from flimsy side characters. When you don’t regularly see yourself represented in the media you consume, you begin to think you’re not worthy of being a main character in your own life.
Crystal’s story is drawn from my own journey to self-acceptance. I wanted readers, particularly those who don’t conform to Western societal beauty standards, to know that while loving yourself is such an important goal, it’s OKAY to feel doubt sometimes. Crystal is seemingly the picture of strength and confidence. She’s a character who, despite being an idol in the body positivity fitness community, still has her moments of doubt. I hoped to write a book that would show readers it’s okay not to feel confident all the time – and that society still has a long way to go in normalizing marginalized bodies as being worthy of love.
And even more importantly, I wanted to write a book that would affirm to everyone that they deserve a happily ever after. That they deserve to be a main character in their own story.
What do you like best about writing for the romance genre?
Love and romance is just so intrinsic to us as humans. Romance more often than not shows us portrayals of healthy communication and consent that we don’t often see in other media. Especially after the past few years, I believe people are more than ever drawn to uplifting stories where happiness is guaranteed at the end. I love the idea of giving people hope, happiness, and escape.
What are some key elements that should be included for a well-crafted romance novel?
1. Chemistry between the two main characters is the most important for me. The reader needs to understand why these two individuals complement each other and why they are meant for each other. Tension is key here, too, because the reader knows it will end happily, but they also need to be taken on an emotional journey first.
2. Characterization is key because you can have an excellent plot, but if the characters aren’t well developed, without satisfying character arcs, the reader may not be as invested in their happy ending. I find asking yourself What does my character want/need? throughout can be helpful in ensuring the arc is fulsome.
If Hollywood makes your novel into a film or TV series, who would you like to see play the main characters?
My love interest, Scott Ritchie is inspired by Chris Evans. So of course he would be my dream casting. As for Crystal, there aren’t a ton of mainstream actresses that fit her physical description. However, I do love Lana Condor!
What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?
I’m not currently reading anything, although I just finished an early copy of 50 Ways to Win Back Your Lover by Kelly Siskind, as well as Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea. Both books were absolutely fantastic!
My TBR is embarrassingly long. Here are just a few of the advanced copies sitting in my Netgalley:
Seoulmates by Susan Lee
From the Jump by Lacie Waldon
How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter
Click here to order Set on You on Amazon.