Bethany Turner is a bestselling author of romantic comedies. She has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, been repeatedly named to Family Fiction Magazine’s annual list of 40 Essential Romance Authors and POPSUGAR’s Best Romance Novels of the year, and has been an Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best Romance, “Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other.” She lives in southwest Colorado with her husband and two sons.

“Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other” won the 2024 Colorado Book Award for Romance.


SunLit: Tell us this book’s backstory. What inspired you to write it? Where did the story/theme originate?

Bethany Turner: Something interesting happened with this book that had never happened to me before. I created the fictional town in which it takes place first, and then figured out the story and characters that were going to exist there.

I’d begun writing a completely different story set in this fictional town — Adelaide Springs, Colorado — nearly a decade ago, but the time was never right for that story, no matter how many times I tried. I finally got to the point of being ready (I thought) to move on from that story, but I couldn’t move on from the town.

Before I knew it, I had created a group of friends who had grown up in Adelaide Springs together before going their separate ways, and one of those friends was Brynn Cornell, who has become a major celebrity in the 20 years since she essentially ran away from home. I knew that if I could find a believable reason to make her (begrudgingly) go back home, there was a story there.

(Incidentally, the time is finally right for that original Adelaide Springs story, too. “Wes and Addie Had Their Chance” will release in 2025.)

SunLit: Place this excerpt in context. How does it fit into the book as a whole? Why did you select it?

Turner: The excerpt is from the first chapter, and it’s essential to laying the groundwork for the story. Brynn Cornell is the beloved co-host of “Sunup” — the number one morning news entertainment program in the country. But suddenly, the wheels come off in the final few minutes of the Friday episode.

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In this excerpt, we see Brynn go from a star on the rise to a complete disaster. She’s known as “America’s Ray of Sunshine,” but suddenly she reveals her true character…and she’s a bit of a mean girl. The excerpt sets us up for all that is to come as Brynn is forced to go back to Adelaide Springs to try and save her reputation.

SunLit: Tell us about creating this book. What influences and/or experiences informed the project before you sat down to write? And once you did begin to write, did the work take you in any unexpected directions?

Turner: I tend to find that stories always take me somewhere unexpected! I knew when I sat down to write that I wanted to share the warmth and occasional quirkiness of small-town living from the perspectives of these two very different (though certainly not as different as they think) characters.

Brynn has found it so easy to blame her difficulties in life on her upbringing in Adelaide Springs. Sebastian, meanwhile, has come to the town as a somewhat damaged adult, and Adelaide Springs is a source of peace and healing for him. One thing I really didn’t anticipate was how much healing was to be found, for both of them, in simply being loved and accepted.

And once the healing began, they were able to connect across their differences and through their similarities. I also don’t think I expected to laugh with these two characters as much as I did. I write romantic comedy, so obviously I hoped it would be funny. But it was the laughing with Brynn and Sebastian — mostly as they laughed with (and occasionally at) each other — that I treasured.

SunLit: Are there lessons you take away from each experience of writing a book? And if so, what did the process of writing this book add to your knowledge and understanding of your craft and/or the subject matter?

“Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other”

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Turner: Oh, always! For a long time, I thought the fact that each new book I wrote became my new favorite just meant I was flighty or had a bad memory! That’s not true, of course. (Well, the bad memory thing isn’t untrue…)

Each new book I write tends to be my favorite book I’ve written because each book adds to my mental and emotional library of resources — what I’m good at; what I struggle with; what makes me laugh; what makes readers laugh; what makes us both cry.

With this book in particular, I realized that in my first drafts, I tend to get too caught up in the exposition. I’m what we call a “pantser” — I fly by the seat of my pants as I write and go wherever the story takes me, rather than plotting out a book ahead of time — so in my first draft, it’s usually obvious in the first few chapters that I’m just trying to figure things out. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s my process, and that’s what edits and rewrites are for!

But as I wrote (or more accurately, rewrote) “Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other,” it finally clicked for me that I’m better served, and the story is better served, if I just jump into the action…even if I don’t understand anything behind the action yet. The edits and the rewrites will still be necessary, of course, but the characters reveal themselves to me more quickly when I give them more to do, right off the bat.

SunLit: What were the biggest challenges you faced in writing this book?

Turner: Brynn Cornell is not very likable in the beginning of this book. I knew that would be the case and I had no desire to skirt around that. It was a challenge, however, to embrace the negative side of my primary protagonist’s personality while still creating a character readers would want to stick with and root for.

Ultimately, the story is about Brynn’s redemption and healing, and in order to get her where she needed to go, we needed to first see her at her worst. The adage “hurt people hurt people” very much applies to Brynn, but ultimately, she is deep and layered and has a great capacity for love and compassion.

It takes the patience and understanding of those who love her to help her rediscover those qualities in herself, and I definitely rely on the patience and understanding of the reader, as well, as they get to know who Brynn really is.

SunLit: If you could pick just one thing – a theme, lesson, emotion or realization — that readers would take from this book, what would that be?

Turner: Laila Olivet, one of the supporting characters in the book, has a quote that I think sums it up: “Sometimes when you look for the best in someone, you actually find it.” As we all know, we live in a very divided world. We have a lot of differences that stretch across a lot of issues. That’s part of being human.

But if we go to the effort of looking for connection and looking for common ground, or even just looking at the person rather than the rhetoric, there’s no telling what we may find.

SunLit: In a highly politicized atmosphere where books, and people’s access to them, has become increasingly contentious, what would you add to the conversation about books, libraries and generally the availability of literature in the public sphere?

Turner: I think if we could all just commit to building up and supporting the books and authors we like to read rather than tearing down the books and authors we don’t like to read, most of the problems would take care of themselves. Support libraries, support independent booksellers, support any reputable channel of literary distribution you choose! But the key word is support.

SunLit: Walk us through your writing process: Where and how do you write?

Turner: Like so many writers, I have a separate full-time job, a family, and a very busy life. I don’t have a lot of time to write, so it’s important to me that the time I do have is productive.

My very supportive husband and I gave up the guest room in our house and turned it into my office, and my family is very respectful of my writing time. Most of my writing is done sitting in front of a large monitor at my desk in that office with headphones on and a cup of coffee nearby.

SunLit: You deal with difficult issues in your stories, and then surround those difficulties with comedy. What do you see as the connection between pain and laughter?

Turner: Just like there is a thin line between love and hate (as Brynn and Sebastian demonstrate in this book), there is a thin line between pain and laughter. The acknowledgement of both genuine pain and genuine laughter requires a certain level of vulnerability.

There’s a reason families so often share their deepest laughs together as they mourn the loss of a loved one. An authentic life lived richly will be full of peaks and valleys, and it’s often the traveling from one to the other that reveals to us who we are and what we value.

SunLit: Tell us about your next project.

Turner: My next romantic comedy is called “Cole and Laila Are Just Friends: A Love Story.” It once again takes place in the fictional town of Adelaide Springs, Colorado, and features two supporting characters we meet in “Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other.” It was so fun to return to this cast of characters!

Each story stands on its own and can be read in any order, but Cole and Laila’s story does continue on after the events of Brynn and Sebastian’s story. Cole and Laila have a very different dynamic than that of Brynn and Sebastian, as the titles suggest, and it was simply joyous to spend time with these lifelong best friends as they began to wonder if they’d been missing something right in front of them for their entire lives. That book released earlier this month. And then in 2025, we return to Adelaide Springs one final time with “Wes and Addie Had Their Chance: A Love Story”.

Just a few more quick questions

SunLit: Do you look forward to the actual work of writing or is it a chore that you dread but must do to achieve good things?

Turner: I tend to look at it as a chore, until I actually sit down and the words start flowing. Then I never want to stop!

SunLit: What’s the first piece of writing – at any age – that you remember being proud of?

Turner: In the second grade I won a state-level contest in Kentucky, where I grew up. The assignment was to write about who we would have lunch with, if we could choose anyone living or dead, and to write about that lunch as we imagined it.

I chose John Stamos, who was Uncle Jesse on the sitcom “Full House” at the time, and my essay certainly stood out, considering most of my peers wrote about more serious lunchmates! But, like I said, I won. I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but now I see just how much that early success bolstered me and encouraged me to write what matters to me, even if it seems less important.

It’s not less important. If it matters to me, it probably matters to some readers out there who are waiting for a story like mine to come along.

SunLit: When you look back at your early professional writing, how do you feel about it? Impressed? Embarrassed? Satisfied? Wish you could have a do-over?

Turner: I’ve definitely gotten better through the years, but I’m honestly proud of all of it. Each story has shaped me into the writer I am today — for better or worse — and will continue to shape me into the writer I hope to become.

SunLit: What three writers, from any era, can you imagine having over for a great discussion about literature and writing? And why?

Turner: John Stamos released a book last year, so I suppose I could get away with including him in this conversation, as well! Having said that, I’ll go with Jane Austen, Nora Ephron (who, in addition to many other genius works, wrote the rom-com movie classics “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail”) and Helen Fielding (who wrote the Bridget Jones novels).

Those three are my writing inspiration with every love story I write, and they each broke the mold within the genre in their own individual ways. They make me laugh and swoon and cry and then laugh again, and I would love to pick their brains and just marvel at their brilliance.

SunLit: Do you have a favorite quote about writing?

Turner: Jane Austen wrote, “I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on till I am.” That’s my favorite because it is so real, and such a good reminder. Writing can absolutely be a joy. There are times, when the words are flowing and the imagination is running wild, that it really is like you dream it will be.

But there are also deadlines and writer’s block and headaches and days when you’re convinced you’ll never write anything worth reading, ever again. The key is to keep at it. The next moment of joy is only a word or a page or a chapter away.

SunLit: What does the current collection of books on your home shelves tell visitors about you?

Turner: That I have some ridiculously talented friends! I’m in the process of reading books written by friends—either to endorse them, prepublication, or to get caught up on stories I’ve missed—and I’m blown away by their talent and creativity.

SunLit: Soundtrack or silence? What’s the audio background that helps you write?

Turner: Soundtrack! I know it doesn’t work for every writer, but I have discovered the beauty of creating a playlist that fits the story’s emotional needs, and using it as a shortcut to that emotion, essentially. Music holds an indescribable power that way.

SunLit: What event, and at what age, convinced you that you wanted to be a writer?

Turner: I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I began writing in my early 30s. I suppose I was always a decent writer (see, once again, the John Stamos story), but it never occurred to me that I would write entire books!

Then in my early 30s, I was the vice president of a bank that was enduring its second buyout in a couple of years, and I was burning out quickly. My children were young and I was tired and stressed, and I began writing as a creative outlet and stress relief. It didn’t take long, once I got going, for me to realize how much I loved it.

SunLit: Greatest fear as an author?

Turner: The end of the ideas. So far it’s been an unfounded fear, but it’s always there, just under the surface.

SunLit: Greatest satisfaction?

Turner: Connecting with readers. In-person reader events are my absolute favorite thing, but connecting through email or social media or virtual book clubs is amazing as well! From the time a reader dives into a book, it no longer belongs to the author. It belongs to the reader. And it’s such a gift to be able to share a story with another person.

Type of Story: Q&A

An interview to provide a relevant perspective, edited for clarity and not fully fact-checked.

This byline is used for articles and guides written collaboratively by Hablame24 reporters, editors and producers.