By Noelle Downey

Best friends and New York Times bestselling authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings (who collaborate under the shared pen name Christina Lauren) have quite literally written the book on romance! Their newest novel Dating You / Hating You (DYHY) follows the story of two star-crossed lovers, Evie and Carter, who find themselves locked in a heated battle of the sexes after their Hollywood agencies combine and force them to compete for the same job. With the glamorous backdrop of Hollywood life and celebrity style, these squabbling love birds must finesse the tricky situation of chasing their dreams without chasing each other away. Recently, Hobbs and Billings spoke with CupidsPulse.com on their excitement over this new project, which hits shelves today, June 6th, their best relationship advice, and how they found success as BFFs. Check out our exclusive author interview below!

Exclusive Author Interview with Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings

In DYHY, Hollywood culture plays a huge role since your main characters are both agents. How did you research the celebrity lifestyle? Did you get the chance to meet any celebrities while you were writing this book?

We have had interactions with various Hollywood folks, including celebrities and industry people, but our focus on the research was on the agent side. We had a lot of fun talking to agents and managers about things they had seen and experienced. Interestingly (at least to us!), a lot of the shenanigans that Carter and Evie stoop to in the book are based on true stories.

Speaking of Carter and Evie, they vie for the same job in DYHY, which obviously disrupts their flirtation. What are your tips to our readers who may also be struggling to handle the demands of work life and romance? How would you advise them to find a healthy balance between the two?

Beyond the premise of this book, it can be really hard to find that balance—whether you’re single, in a relationship, or have kids. When we were first writing, we were working full-time jobs and raising small kids and trying to fit the writing into every crack of time we had. What we found is that nothing in our life was getting 100 percent of our attention. We ended up leaving our jobs to write full-time, and it allowed us to have much more energy for the relationships at home.

It’s okay to set priorities and—this is especially important for young women to hear—it really is okay to make your career your priority if you’re doing something you love. That said, it’s also okay to feel like the rat race isn’t for you. Bottom line is, only you know how things rank in your emotional heart. No one else can tell you how you should be balancing your career with your love life, not even a couple of romance authors.

Related Link: Relationship Advice: 6 Ways to Keep Work & Life Demands in Balance

In your opinion, do you think that men and women are often pitted against one another in the workplace? How did your own professional experiences in the past influence your writing of this book?

It may not be the case that men and women are necessarily “pitted” against each other, but sexual politics are alive and well in the workplace. We’ve seen this ourselves in various ways, from the women being more visible in assistant roles to egregious pay disparity to casual sexism in the form of “sweetie,” “hon,” and “kiddo” spoken from men to women, even sometimes to women who are their superiors in the reporting structure.

Luckily, we’ve both worked with very progressive people—both men and women—who made a point to address any overt workplace disparity. But, for better or for worse, given that it’s hard to miss it even in this day and age, it made that aspect of writing this book very easy because we didn’t have to dig very deep to find the thread of that subplot.

Do you have any tips for our readers on how to foster the kind of amazing and collaborative relationship that the two of you have found in your friendship, especially if demands like school, work, or kids tend to keep them apart?

There are a million reasons why this collaboration is so enduring—and still so happy—but at the end of the day, the most important component is our chemistry. Lo is the neurotic, spreadsheet-loving, deadline-driven one. Christina brings the levity. As our editor has said on multiple occasions, “The world needs Laurens, but it also needs Christinas.” It’s true. If we were all Laurens, we’d be wrestling for control until it turned into a bloodbath. If we were all Christinas, we’d drown in a pool of boy bands and glitter. Having both makes this possible.

The other thing is, when we began writing together back in 2009, we said at the very outset that the books will not become more important than the friendship. That has been a very, very important motto and one we have treated reverently. To maintain a deep friendship, it has to be put front and center.

Christina Lauren Shares Best Relationship Advice and Favorite Date Nights

Shifting gears, since you’re both clearly romance experts, I have to ask: How would you advise our readers to keep things sexy and fun with a partner, even after years have gone by and kids and other commitments come into the picture?

Communication, communication, communication. The more open we are, the better our marriages are in all respects—in and out of the bedroom. We find that when things are more distant in our marriages, it’s because we aren’t speaking to our spouses as lovers and partners; we are only interacting as parents.

Related Link: Parenting Tips: How to Feel Sexy After Motherhood

Do either of you have a favorite date night? Do you ever double date?

We can’t routinely double date because we live in separate states (!!), but when we are together, we have a lot of fun, just the four of us. Our husbands get along really well, and when we travel, they often take off and do their own thing together—sometimes stumbling back tipsy and hilarious.

Favorite date nights are usually spent discovering new restaurants in the area, catching a movie we couldn’t see with the kids, or—probably most common—going to a concert together!

As two people who have written so much great romance, I’m sure you get asked all the time what your best relationship advice is. I’m curious, though: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

If you’re in a relationship, the best love advice we’ve ever received was what someone said at Lo’s wedding, “Always assume good intentions.” That means, if you’re in a loving, stable relationship, the basic assumption should be that your partner has your best interests in mind. If you see the relationship through that lens, you are less likely to see strife or hurt where there is none.

Related Link: 5 Communication Keys Every Relationship Needs

Lastly, do you have any other upcoming projects or anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Other than DYHY, we have two more books out this year. Autoboyograhy is out September 12th; it’s the story of Tanner Scott, a bisexual teen who moves from the Bay Area in California to Provo, Utah and falls in love with the son of the local Mormon bishop. We love how this book came out; it’s been something we’ve been working on for many years, and we are so proud of the finished product!

Then, in December (formerly October), we have Roomies, which is a little bit Greencard-meets-Once. It’s the story of Holland Bakker, a twenty-something woman in NYC who is watching her MFA gather dust in the corner while she works front-of-the-house for the hottest musical on Broadway. Holland has an infatuation with an Irish guitar-playing busker at the subway near her house and offers to marry him to help him stay in the country…and land him a position in the ensemble for the show. It’s a strangers-to-married story that has been the most fun to write!

2018 holds LOTS MORE for us, but we haven’t announced those projects yet, so for now we’ll just have to say: we.cannot.wait.for.2018.

You can purchase Dating You / Hating You on Amazon. For more from Christina and Lauren, visit their website or follow them on Twitter @ChristinaLauren.