My first book, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, was released in 2018, a pre-pan­dem­ic year that now feels a bit sur­re­al to look back at. Our Year of Maybe came out in 2019, and these would be the two nor­mal” book releas­es I had before the world changed in 2020. They were both emo­tion­al, slight­ly heavy YA nov­els, after which I piv­ot­ed to writ­ing roman­tic come­dies for both teens and adults. 

This is where I’m hap­pi­est, and each sub­se­quent book brings with it a new brand of excitement. 

Busi­ness or Plea­sure will be my eighth release. It’s also my steami­est, about a ghost­writer who has a ter­ri­ble one-night stand with an actor, not know­ing who he is, only to learn she’s been hired to work on his memoir…a part­ner­ship that heats up when he asks for help in the bed­room. It’s a twist on two of my favorite tropes: the one-night stand and lessons in seduc­tion. And the amount of fun I had writ­ing it felt like it should have been ille­gal. I adore these char­ac­ters, and I’ve been count­ing down the days until read­ers can meet them.

Over the past five years, my writ­ing has evolved. That’s both nat­ur­al and expect­ed. The char­ac­ters in my books have had dif­fer­ent pas­sions, dif­fer­ent flaws, dif­fer­ent rea­sons for resist­ing love until the right per­son sweeps them off their feet. But one thing that’s remained con­stant, aside from a Seat­tle set­ting and my fond­ness for beta heroes, is that my main char­ac­ters have all been Jewish. 

When my debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, was pub­lished, I didn’t real­ize how moved I would feel, hear­ing from Jew­ish read­ers who saw them­selves in those pages, and maybe that’s because I didn’t often see myself in lit­er­a­ture grow­ing up. For the most part, I only read about Jew­ish char­ac­ters in Holo­caust books. There weren’t many books about mod­ern-day Jews with anx­i­ety, Jews with com­pli­cat­ed friend­ships, Jews falling in love. Even in fic­tion, we were always marked by tragedy. 

One thing that’s remained con­stant, aside from a Seat­tle set­ting and my fond­ness for beta heroes, is that my main char­ac­ters have all been Jewish. 

Those books are undoubt­ed­ly still impor­tant, and they should nev­er stop being pub­lished. But it’s impor­tant, too, to show a wide range of Jew­ish expe­ri­ences. And I think that’s why it took me a while to put Jew­ish char­ac­ters in my own writ­ing. While my debut nov­el starred Jew­ish char­ac­ters, the four man­u­scripts I tried to get pub­lished before that didn’t. Sure, my writ­ing was prob­a­bly a lot bet­ter in that fifth man­u­script, but I think let­ting myself write Jew­ish char­ac­ters gave You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone a lay­er of authen­tic­i­ty that had been miss­ing from my ear­li­er attempts. Their Judaism was dif­fer­ent from mine, but there was a thread that linked my heart to theirs. 

Even by the time You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone came out, I could list the num­ber of oth­er Jew­ish YA nov­els releas­ing that year on one hand. So I made a promise to myself, one that I don’t intend on break­ing: mov­ing for­ward, all my pro­tag­o­nists would be Jew­ish. And they have been.

In Busi­ness or Plea­sure, both the hero­ine and hero are Jew­ish, and through­out the book, they dis­cuss shared tra­di­tions, anti­semitism, and how it feels to have a last name that sounds Jew­ish ver­sus one that doesn’t. I also made the hero’s mom a rab­bi. Some of it is ter­ri­to­ry I’ve explored before, and some is new — because I’ve found that if I start dig­ging into some­thing in one book, 350 pages usu­al­ly aren’t enough for me to ful­ly exca­vate it. Almost all my char­ac­ters are grap­pling with being Jew­ish enough,” because that’s some­thing I’m per­pet­u­al­ly try­ing to unpack. At the same time, my books aren’t about being Jew­ish — it’s just one piece of my char­ac­ters’ iden­ti­ties. They sim­ply exist as Jews in the world, the same way I do. 

Writ­ing Jew­ish char­ac­ters has helped me con­nect with a part of the book com­mu­ni­ty I trea­sure so dear­ly — read­ers, oth­er authors, peo­ple who’ve become close friends. I’ve nev­er felt wel­comed the way I have by Jew­ish book­sta­gram­mers, and I’m end­less­ly grateful. 

It’s a space I might have been shy or uncer­tain about claim­ing for myself when I was younger and now feels like a warm blan­ket. This is where my books belong, and even though every anx­ious cell in my body might try to con­vince me oth­er­wise — I think it’s a place that I belong, too.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is the New York Times best­selling author of The Ex Talk, Today Tonight Tomor­row, and oth­er roman­tic come­dies for teens and adults. Her next book, Busi­ness or Plea­sure, will be pub­lished in June 2023. Orig­i­nal­ly from Seat­tle, she’s cur­rent­ly nav­i­gat­ing expat life in Ams­ter­dam, where she can often be found explor­ing the city, col­lect­ing sta­tionery, and work­ing up the courage to knit her first sweater. Con­nect with her on Insta­gram @rlynn_solomon or online at rachel​solomon​books​.com.