KH: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, hello!
KH: Fun fact, gang—at my first Romance Writers of America conference, I saw SEP in line at the breakfast buffet (she loaded her plate, just sayin’), and I thought, “Oh, my God, that’s SUSAN FREAKIN’ ELIZABETH PHILLIPS!” and dared not look directly at her. And now, nine years later, we’re friends, because she’s just that kind of person. A sucker. A warm, lovely, funny, wonderful sucker.
SEP: [Rolls eyes at above paragraph, except for the “plate loading” crack, which is totally true.]
KH: Susan, thanks for enduring an interview with me. Also, dinner is most definitely on you next time!
SEP: [Sighs, then double sighs.]
KH: My first question: you started writing books the year I started 8th grade. How does that make you feel?
SEP: In case no one’s ever pointed it out to you—which I highly doubt—you are a brat. Of all the friends in the world, I had to choose—
KH: Breaking in here— First Star I See Tonight is the hugely anticipated next installment in the Chicago Stars series, but there have been a few books in between First Star and This Heart of Mine.
SEP: Match Me If You Can and Natural Born Charmer. After that, I was sure I couldn’t bring anything fresh to the character of the football player. And then Piper Dove, the heroine of First Star I See Tonight, showed up in my brain, as characters tend to do. And she needed a formidable opponent. And I wanted a big city book. And Chicago is the Big City I most love writing about. And there I was, right back in Chicago Stars territory with Cooper Graham, the only hero I could think of who was a match for my girl detective.
KH: Was it strange to come back to the series, or was it like slipping on a pair of comfy slippers?
SEP: More like pulling on a great pair of athletic sneakers. Familiar but issuing a silent challenge with every step.
KH: Let’s talk about your hero, Cooper. He’s a jock, he’s a nightclub owner, he’s got rock hard abs…what about him surprised you in his interactions with Piper, your bad-ass heroine?
SEP: How competitive he still is. You’d think after all those season in the NFL and that Super Bowl ring, he might be a little more laid back. But there’s something about Piper Dove’s toughness that brings out his worst. And…maybe…his best.
KH: Did you do any fun research for this book, other than fondling your well-worn copies of Sports Illustrated?
SEP: I’ve never fondled a copy of Sports Illustrated in my life—ruling out a few light caresses across the covers. Chicago research is always fun because it gives me an excuse to travel into the city from the ‘burbs. I also loved taking a peek into the world of private detectives, not to mention professional football players who make a habit of dating famous actresses.
KH: I love seeing you on book tour or at a reader event, Susan, because you literally bounce around with excitement—and the way you read aloud slays me. (Hint: she emotes.) Have you ever thought about being a clown for children’s parties or maybe a gymnast? Are you like that all the time, or are you also gifted in the art of couch-flopping and binge-watching? And if so, what’s your latest television obsession?
SEP: A clown at children’s parties? Where is that deference you refer to in your intro? Where is the respect? The—can I say?—blind idolatry? And let me point out that I’ve seen you in action, K.H., and you’re not exactly Ms. Bore Your Readers To Tears yourself. And no, [sniff], I am not a couch-flopping, binge-watcher—unless you’re talking about Project Runway. OMG! I love that show so much. And Modern Family. And Blackish. And… Gray’s Anatomy before they killed McDreamy. And— Never mind.
KH: Okay, enough chit-chat. I’m off to reread the series. Tell the nice people what’s next for you, Majesty. And thank you for your time, and for writing this book!
SEP: What’s next is catching up on the entire Kristan Higgins backlist. Since I’ve told you a zillion times, you know I fell head over heels in love with IF YOU ONLY KNEW. That book is so fresh, so original, so funny and charming that I kinda hate you for it because I didn’t write it myself. The childbirth scene alone… Who thinks like that?! Thanks for writing so many great books yourself, and thanks for the interview—except for the crack about 8th grade. But since you called me “Majesty,” I’ll rise above.