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Author Jasmine Guillory on her new Cali-surf-infused ‘Beauty and the Beast’ retelling

The romance novel pro and Wellesley alum dishes on reimagining a tale as old as time.

Romance author and Wellesley alumna Jasmine Guillory.Andrea Scher

Writer and Wellesley aluma Jasmine Guillory has become a romance genre sensation in the last several years. Her works — including 2018′s “The Proposal” and 2021′s “While We Were Dating” — have become New York Times bestsellers and she was the first romance author to land on Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club. Her latest, “By The Book,” is a modern reimagining of the “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale, complete with a book-obsessed publishing house editorial assistant Isabelle (Izzy). Her beast? An ornery, former child star named Beau, who hasn’t turned in his overdue memoir in a year — and, who also happens to be in possession of a gorgeous Santa Barbara mansion with an enviable library.

The novel, which debuted in May, is a joyful rom-com trip with a charming heroine and dastardly foes (which take the forms of self-doubt and corporate nemeses). As an added bonus, since the novel centers around Izzy’s attempt to motivate a reluctant and withdrawn Beau to write the book he’s signed a seven-figure deal for, “By The Book” features a healthy dose of actionable writing and literary advice, too.


The tips range from the practical (force yourself to write for 15 minutes; switch from longhand in a notebook to a computer; don’t delete your old work even if you hate it — just rename the file and hide it from yourself) to the emotionally motivational. And through helping Beau, Izzy finds herself dusting off her long-abandoned manuscript as well.

Guillory now lives on the West Coast, but she’ll be back in Boston for an event with Brookline Booksmith on June 6, as well as for her college reunion. In advance of her return, we chatted on the phone about all things writing and romance.


The latest release by author Jasmine Guillory — a modern, romantic retelling of "Beauty and the Beast."

Q. What about the “Beauty and the Beast” story drew you into writing a retelling?

A. For any bookish kid, Belle was their favorite princess. It was fun for me to be able to write a contemporary version of her — especially one that centered on a Black woman. And, to write about a love of books and a love of writing in a way that felt real to me.

Q. Tell me more about how writing about a love of books felt real to you.

A. I grew up always in the library, and always in the corner with a book. It was exciting for me to get to put that love of reading on the page — that different world that you go into when you’re in the middle of a book.

Q. The “pep talks” were really helpful pieces of advice.

A. Every writer has been there. That was a side benefit of writing their story. And, in many ways — yes, of course I was writing advice from Izzy to Beau, but I was also writing advice to myself. Some of those things I have to repeat to myself over and over again as I write each book.

Q. How did you decide to make Beau a struggling author?

A. It felt natural to put Isabelle in the publishing world, as a woman who’s always loved books. Then I had to think: why would they come together? It felt natural to have him be a writer and stuck in his mind about how to move forward.


Q. What were some of the most fun references to the “Beauty and the Beast” storyline for you?

A. I had a lot of fun with the house itself. It was not quite full of objects that came to life, but ones that felt like they might. There were references to little quotes from songs, but there was one that still makes me laugh—it came very naturally. When Izzy is having a conversation with her friend about Beau, and she says, “We’re barely even friends.”

Q. That one was so sly. I had to backtrack.

A. It was my favorite. That made me really happy.

Q. How do you continue writing such joyful stories when things get difficult in the rest of life?

A. Part of it is that it’s nice to have a place to escape to when everything is hard. For me that’s been my books and my writing. It was great for me to spend time with Isabelle and Beau in the house in Santa Barbara when things are stressful in the real world.

Q. Are you excited for your return trip to Boston and Wellesley?

A. Yes! It’s my reunion. My event in Boston is going to be right after the reunion, but it’s the first reunion that Wellesley will have in person in two years, so there was a long time where we wondered if it would even happen.


Q. Anything in particular you’re looking back on about your time at Wellesley?

A. I felt like I learned how to be a person and an adult there. A lot of the confidence that I have now started there. I made lifelong friends. There are people who have supported me throughout my life since then — I’m so grateful to them and Wellesley.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. I have a book coming out in September. It’s called “Drunk on Love” and set in Napa Valley wine country around a Black-owned winery. I’m so excited for people to read it.

Jasmine Guillory will be in conversation with the Boston Globe’s Meredith Goldstein for Brookline Booksmith at Coolidge Corner Theatre on June 6 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available at brooklinebooksmith.com.

Interview was edited and condensed.

Gina Tomaine can be reached at Gina.Tomaine@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @gtomaine.