Rent a Boyfriend Author Gloria Chao Blog Interview

Nov. 12, 2020

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

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I have had the privilege of interviewing Gloria Chao, the author of the now-published book Rent a Boyfriend! We discussed her current book, her upcoming plans, and whether or not she'd like to see Rent a Boyfriend on the big screen. Thank you to Hear Our Voices for providing me this opportunity to interview Ms. Chao! Onto the interview!

Lara Pena: How is Rent a Boyfriend different from your other books? What were your writing goals specifically for this novel?

Gloria Chao: Rent a Boyfriend is different from American Panda and Our Wayward Fate because romance is the focus. While all three of my books explore romance and complicated family dynamics, the relative emphasis of the two varies. So if you are a fan of Mei & Darren or Ali & Chase, I hope you will love Chloe & Drew!

One goal for this novel was to bring the boyfriend rental practice to America. In some Asian countries, women sometimes feel so much pressure to bring home an acceptable boyfriend that they hire fake ones from the classifieds or a company. I understand this pressure and wanted to bring the practice to an Asian American community. I created a company, Rent for Your ’Rents, that specializes in boyfriend rentals, and I had a lot of fun creating the history around the company and the training of its “operatives.”

LP: What inspiration did you draw from your own life that you know you wanted to be included in the book?

GC: Drew’s backstory of being cut off from his family after dropping out of college to pursue art was informed by my experiences. I changed careers from dentist to writer seven years ago, and my family had a hard time with that decision. A lot of the things that Drew’s family says to him are things I heard. It was difficult to write, but I’m glad I did for the readers out there who are struggling to pursue their dreams. You aren’t alone!

I also drew from my experiences with Chloe’s mom setting her up with her friends’ sons, with whom Chloe has no interest. I unfortunately had plenty of material to draw from for this!

LP: I loved the book! Would you ever be interested in seeing your story come to audiences in a visual format, like a TV show or movie?

GC: That would be a dream come true! Personally, I think Rent a Boyfriend would translate well to a movie—a rom com with a few fresh twists!

LP: What are your upcoming plans for after Rent a Boyfriend is published and released into the world?

GC: Immediately, to celebrate with my husband with a fun at-home dinner! In terms of writing, I’m drafting book #4, I’m working on some short stories for anthologies (the one that’s been announced is FOOLS IN LOVE, which has fresh takes on romance tropes, releasing Dec 2021), and I’m working on a few projects that I hope I can share more about soon!

LP: What was your thought process behind the introduction to the book? I was surprised to see that the two main characters have never met prior to the Thanksgiving evening.

GC: The first line of Rent a Boyfriend has been the same since the first draft: “Almost everyone is nervous introducing their boyfriend to their parents for the first time, but I was about to pee my sweat-soaked undies because, well, I hadn’t met him yet either.”

To me, I was fascinated by the idea that Chloe and Drew are pretending to be a serious couple when they haven’t met yet. I wanted to capture the absurdity of that right off the bat. Also, I personally love reading stories that drop us right into the action, and I wanted to plunge the reader right in to when Drew was already in the picture. The backstory as to how Chloe reached the point of hiring a fake boyfriend is then peppered throughout the book.

LP: I was interested in the aspect of Chloe's parents being honest with her and Drew about their relationship, and a little more surprised that the honesty maintained throughout the book. Why did you write the parents this way?

GC: Chloe’s parents are honest with her about the struggles they faced in their marriage because it informs why they pressure her to be with their Asian American community’s flagship bachelor, who is rich but also a jerk. I wanted to demonstrate why Chloe’s parents value different things in a romantic relationship than she does (they value financial stability over compatibility), and why that leads to a difficult situation for Chloe. This is inspired by my experiences with my parents, and it impacted my first few relationships a lot.

I hope you enjoyed this interview just as much as I did! Thank you Gloria and the Hear Our Voices team for this awesome interview!