Bestselling Spanish author Elena Armas broke into the literary scene when her novel, The Spanish Love Deception, became a viral sensation thanks to positive chatter and shared love for the book by users on TikTok. Many romance book lovers have dived into the book and been charmed by the characters’ hate-to-love relationship; now, the story is heading toward a film adaptation!
Armas is an avid book lover and collector and has shared her love for books with the #Bookstagram community on Instagram. After gaining a chemical engineering degree, she decided to transfer her passion for books and give writing a go.
From there The Spanish Love Deception was born, followed by her second rom-com, The American Roommate Experiment, both of which have captured many readers’ hearts and have been translated into over 30 languages.
Elena’s characters share banter, argue, and get confused about their feelings for each other — all of the elements that make for great romance-based entertainment. Throw in swoony male lead characters, and readers will find themselves falling in love as the books’ leading ladies usually do.
Up next in her perfect bookish rom-com world is The Long Game (Atria). We had the chance to speak with Elena about the novel and everything that comes with her recent success as an author.
Your book The Spanish Love Deception became a viral TikTok hit and New York Times bestseller. What was your favorite part about writing this book, and how did you react to the way audiences embraced it?
I wish I could pinpoint a specific moment or part within the writing process of The Spanish Love Deception, but unfortunately, it’s all a blur. If I had to say something, it’d probably be the complete freedom of writing a book with no expectations. But of course, I see that as positive now that I am entitled to those expectations. I’m pretty sure 2021-Elena would have said something else! As for my reaction to the TikTok phenomenon … surprise is a good word.
You have a degree in Chemical Engineering. Tell us a bit about following that unconventional path to becoming a writer! With the rise in popularity of STEM romances, have you ever considered using your background to write about, maybe, two chemical engineers falling in love?
The Spanish Love Deception is a STEM romance at its core, so I did write about two engineers falling in love. I guess it all moves to the background with the fake dating — which I’m not complaining about, I promise. Having said that, I will admit that at first Aaron and Lina’s story was a lot more focused on the STEM aspects of it. I (vaguely) remember having fun writing about all those things I have experienced myself in the field I’ve worked in for years, so I don’t think that’s a door I’ve completely closed.
Before becoming a writer and having your own novels released, you were also a Bookstagrammer, promoting some of your favorite books on Instagram. How did you decide to start writing and publishing your books? What advice do you have for people who might be afraid to take that first step to become a published author?
There wasn’t a specific moment in time when I set myself to writing, and much less, publishing. I am an impulsive person when I get excited about things, so the moment the idea for The Spanish Love Deception hit me, I just went for it. I dove into the writing pool head first, with no tools or the slightest idea about storytelling. Once there, it wasn’t an easy or thoughtless journey, of course. It took a lot of work and even more learning, and I was lucky I had a friend to encourage me and guide me through the more intricate details of self-publishing. There’s a quote from a Hilary Duff movie from the 2000s that has always stuck with me: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” That’s my (very millennial) advice to anyone afraid to take that first step.
You are from Spain and — as a Puerto Rican and a minority myself — I love that you write about characters who share your background! How important do you feel it is to share your worlds, your cultures and characters inspired by these types of backgrounds with others? How do you feel the prioritization of stories with diverse characters is changing the literary world today?
I think own voices are vital to any form of art. Representation is a work in progress in literature, and as much as we’ve come a long way, I think there’s still more to be done. What pushed me to include all those little parts of myself and my culture were two main things: 1) the lack of a realistic and non-stereotypical representation of my culture in the literature I was consuming and 2) the hope for Hispanic readers to relate to a Spanish main character like Catalina.
Your new book, The Long Game, out September 5, stars two very different characters — with a mutual interest in soccer — who are forced to work together. Your main character, Adalyn Reyes, is a relatable workaholic with impeccably planned days. You describe yourself as “the Monica of your group of friends”, so I’m curious, how much of Adalyn’s personality and life is inspired by your own?
Probably more than I expected to. This is something I’ve learned throughout my journey as a writer. As much as I never intend to leave all these little pieces of myself in my characters, I always, always do. In this case, Adalyn ended up with a fair share of work-induced anxiety she struggles with, which has also been a new thing for me. Only I never found myself ripping off the head of a team mascot. At least not yet.
The Long Game kicks off with a mistake Adalyn makes that goes viral, leading her to be tasked with turning around a struggling soccer team. Have you ever been in a situation like this, where you learned a lesson that shifted your own path?
I can’t think of anything as big and outlandish, but instead of an array of little missteps that have eventually led me here. Either way, like my abuela would say: pasado, pisado. And what’s more important, the magic in leaving things in the past is learning from them and embracing where they take you. Which is in big part the arc Adalyn goes through while in Green Oak.
Can you tell us anything about your untitled book set to release in Fall of 2024 from Atria? What other exciting projects or books are you working on next?
That book will take us back to Green Oak and follow two characters we get to meet in The Long Game. So far, I can confirm it’s going to be a lot more rom-commy than its predecessor and LOADS of chaotic fun (which should hint at who the main characters will be). As for other projects, I’m currently working on one that’s super exciting; and have plans for a new and different thing that might take one or two by surprise (or not, if you’ve been following me long enough on socials).
About Elena Armas:
Elena Armas is a Spanish writer, self-confessed hopeless romantic and proud book hoarder. Now, she’s also the author of Sunday Times and New York Times bestsellers The Spanish Love Deception and The American Roommate Experiment. Her books are being translated to over 30 languages – which is bananas, if you ask her. Her newest rom-com, The Long Game, is on sale now. To learn more, visit www.authorelenaarmas.com and follow her on Instagram and TikTok @thebibliotheque.