Tweet Cute is a young adult novel which tackles, very nicely I might add, issues high school seniors face as they begin to ponder their futures, the pressures parents unintentionally place on them, how trying to be perfect can be totally overrated and how figuring out what you really want can come in surprising ways.
Pepper tries to be perfect. She is at the top of her class and definitely headed to an Ivy League school when she graduates. She has no time for friends. Being on the swim team, keeping her grades up and working social media for her divorced parent’s growing fast-food business leaves her only a little time for exhaustion.
Jack seems to be a happy go lucky kind of guy. He is expected to take over his family’s deli business because he believes his twin brother Ethan who he feels is the favorite is expected to go on to great things. Unfortunately Jack does not feel the same way. He is very good at creating apps. He knows this is where his talent’s lie, but feels he would disappoint his parents if he tells them.
Pepper and Jack are not exactly friends. They barely tolerate each other.
But, unbeknownst to them, when their respective parent’s companies begin a twitter war over who owns the name of a grilled cheese sandwich, each is picked to do the mean tweeting at their adversary.
While all this is happening Pepper and Jack are becoming more than friends on an app Jack has created called Weasel where students at their high school can text each other and remain for a certain period of time anonymous until they get to know each other. And they don’t even know it!
But chaos ensues when they figure out they have been at war with each other on twitter. Being used by their parents to outdo each tweet with a worse tweet. As the secrets start to come out, they blame each other for the situation, which seems to be getting worse for them each day. Will this food war ever end? Will Pepper and Jack ever be able to be anything more than friends? Or could this all blow up in their faces like a microwavable hot dog?
Tweet Cute is an adorable rite of passage, life lesson story with believable characters and many relatable teenage problems.
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.
“Tweet Cute delivers in every possible way: a perfect enemies-to-lovers romance, a whip-smart plotline, and endearingly real characters. I devoured it.” – Francesca Zappia, author of Eliza and Her Monsters
“Sweet and fun! An adorable debut that updates a classic romantic trope with a buzzy twist.” – Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately and Serious Moonlight
“A witty rom-com reinvention for the Twitter age, Tweet Cute pairs delicious online rivalry with deeply relatable insights on family pressure and growing up. This fresh, funny read had us hitting ‘favorite’ from page one.” – Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, authors of Always Never Yours and If I’m Being Honest
Social Links: @dilemmalord (Twitter/Instagram)
TWEET CUTE Blog Tour Q&As
What was your inspiration to become a YA writer?
I don’t think I ever set out to be any genre in particular, but what draws me to YA again and again is probably that a lot of the fandoms I was in growing up featured strong teen leads — I spent most of my time writing about teens when I was a teen, and then I guess I never really stopped!
What is your favorite show tune?
Oooh, love this question! This is a tough decision for me but I think I have to say “Astonishing” from Little Women — I think anyone who’s ever had a dream that has felt bigger than them can relate.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My parents, for sure. They’re both pretty prolific writers and storytellers, and they raised me and my siblings to let our imaginations run wild. No other parents were as delighted as mine to hear about all bajillion pages of fan fiction their kid was uploading every other day growing up.
How did you come up with this idea?
I actually tweeted the whole idea for a plot as a joke in 2017, saying there should be a story about two social media managers from competing accounts falling in love. It wasn’t until the tweet got picked up by a few bookish friends and people started saying that someone should write it that I was like, “Oh! I guess that person could be me!”
What books influence your writing?
In terms of books, I’d say anything from Anne Brashares or Rainbow Rowell — but to be honest, a lot of influence came from my favorite fan fiction writers, who were the champions of banter-y dialogue and breaking conventional YA rules long before they were getting recognized for it.
Do you use twitter a lot?
Oh, boy howdy. I’m on Twitter WAY too much. But I think it’s okay for me, because even though I do get some of my news on it, I mostly use it for friendship and memes. At the moment my timeline is basically just Baby Yoda, Spider-Man, and Hufflepuff jokes.
When the idea for Tweet Cute came into fruition, did you imagine the characters or the plot first?
This was a rare moment that the plot came first! I tweeted the idea as a joke a few years ago, and then was tasked with making characters that would fit the bill. It was a little harder for me because it’s not my usual process, but I was happy with how they turned out in the end.
Do you listen to music, soundtracks, or any ambient sounds when writing? If so, what do you listen to?
I do listen to music while I’m writing, but it’s surprisingly mopey! Lots of singer/songwriter acoustic songs, the kind I can appreciate the prettiness of when I do happen to pay attention. I’m pretty sure my Spotify Discover thinks I walk around dressed in all black with a rain cloud hovering over my head. (In real life I am much more cheerful than my writing playlists would suggest!)
What is your favorite romance trope?
Yikes on BIKES am I a sucker for enemies-to-lovers. It is my baguette and butter. I am also a big fan of the secret identity trope, courtesy of being obsessed with all things superheroes, so I’m very pleased I got to work that into Tweet Cute!
Kitty’s Book Spot!
Do you write to music?
I do! It tends to be slower, more acoustic music while I’m doing the actual writing, and more bops when I’m plotting. These days it’s a lot easier to find good music to write to, with other writers sharing playlists on Tumblr all the time.
Do you make music playlists for your works?
I’ve recently gotten into making character playlists for works, at the suggestion of other writer friends. I tend to listen to those when I’m walking around and daydreaming about the plots, though, since I find that the music I think my characters would listen to isn’t often the kind of music that helps me focus on actual writing. I’m have a WIP right now that has six different character playlists and is probably about to get more, my poor Spotify account is just a big mess of character names!
What would you tell us about yourself that no one knows?
I saw the Star Trek 2009 reboot in theaters seven times. (My friends thought it was six. I lied.)
The Book Marauder
What’s the most exciting part about being a writer?
Oh, for sure whenever someone mentions my characters’ names out loud to me. It’s wild to think that other people are living in the same little world you created, even if it’s just for a few hours. It’s like you opened up your brain and other people hopped in.
What is the first book that made you laugh?
Junie B. Jones!! I remember my kindergarten class howling with laughter when our teacher would read it out loud in class. I can’t remember a single one of the plots in adulthood, but I do remember everyone just losing their marbles at them.
Who is your favorite ”Tweet Cute” character and why?
Oooh. I don’t think I have a favorite, but I will say that the one I relate to most is probably Taffy, the overworked Hello Kitty-loving millennial trying to run Big League Burger’s social media. She gets mentioned very briefly, but it was a way of sneaking myself into the book for sure.
Swoony Boys Podcast
What was your favorite part of TWEET CUTE to write?
I think my favorite parts by far were whenever Pepper and Jack bantered with each other in person — there’s a scene early on when they do that in a cafe, and one mid-book where they’re bantering in the pool, and those were my favorite to write. The latter scene I especially loved because it was the first time I’d gotten to use all those years of high school swim team for any kind of purpose in the “real world” — teenage me may have hated it, but adult me is glad to have had some experience to draw from!
Tell us about Pepper and Jack. We want to know all the things!
Oh BOY. Okay, Jack is a Cancer, and Pepper is a Capricorn. Both are Hufflepuffs (Pepper with a Slytherin bent, Jack with a Gryffindor one). Jack is a firm believer in never walking and texting. Pepper has way too many socks, but they always, always match. Jack does coffee, Pepper does tea (hallmark of a “bad New Yorker,” as I’ve been told by my coffee-guzzling friends). Pepper’s favorite color is rainbows (hence, the color coding of everything in her life, from her closet to Excel spreadsheets to planners). Jack is the only person in his family who hates cilantro and as deli owners and foodies it brings them all deep shame.
If you could introduce one of your characters to another character from any other book, who would it be and why?
I feel like Jack and a young James Potter would have plenty to talk about re: scheming.
With TWEET CUTE based around a Twitter battle, how do you think social media has changed modern teen romances?
I think it’s given teens an entirely new language to communicate — like, literally, teens are crafting their own slang, creating infinite new types of memes, crafting their own unique forms of syntax and grammatical rules. I think it only broadens the opportunities you have to get to know and relate to people, having this shared language that is tight knit and highly relatable, and takes a lot of the pressure off interactions that might otherwise cause anxiety. Social media has its pitfalls, sure, but at its best it gives teens a low stakes, high reward way to connect with each other, whether it’s for friendship or romance or just to share some laughs.
Did any rom-coms influence you while writing TWEET CUTE?
Oh, for sure You’ve Got Mail — or at least, what I knew of it. (As soon as people started likening the idea to the movie, I wouldn’t let myself watch it so I didn’t rely too much on its plot!)
Pie or cake, and what kind?
What an excellent question that I have a highly specific answer for!! Cake, and the best kind I’ve ever had was a yellow cake that was filled with three types of frosting between each of its three layers: a peanut butter cream cheese frosting, raspberry jam, and chocolate ganache. I never would have thought of it on my own, but I used to work in a cake bakery, and when they were chopping off the ends of this particular cake to shape it into a football they let me eat the leftovers. I still DREAM about it. But truly, I’m here for any cake except chocolate cake (I’m ashamed to say it — I’m more of a chocolate frosting lady, unless the chocolate cake is like, absurdly rich, in which case it has my attention).
The Nature of Pages
Did the plot or the characters come to you first when writing this novel?
This one was an odd one for me because the plot came LONG before the characters, in the form of a tweet I made in 2017 joking that there should be a rom-com about social media managers from warring fast food chains falling in love. Usually I’ll think of a character first and build plot around them, but I had to go through about five iterations of characters before landing on Pepper and Jack.
What was your favorite part about the process of writing Tweet Cute?
For sure writing with my friends! We try to meet up once a week and are constantly bopping around in the group chat. I wrote Tweet Cute in a month and a half while holding down a full-time job, so my brain was basically just leaking memes by the end of it, but those sessions we spent writing in coffee shops after work were my best memories of the process.
As a debut author, what was a surprise when it came to writing your book?
Uh, people READING it. That was profoundly surprising to me. Like, logistically you understand that people are going to read it if it’s getting published, but usually I’ll write something, stick it on a fan fiction platform anonymously, and that’ll be the end of it. I’m still not over the surprise any time someone reads the book and tags me in something about it!
What inspired you to write Tweet Cute? How did you come up with the idea?
The idea actually started out as a tweet — I’d been laughing at some of the Twitter wars between brands, and thought it would be a funny concept if two of the social media managers from competing accounts fell for each other without realizing it. Once people started saying they wished it was a book, it all kind of took off from there!
How would you describe your writing process? What part do you focus on the most or take you the longest to work through?
I would describe it as organized chaos. I try to sit down and plot, but more often than not the plot comes when I’m walking to work or in the shower or somewhere deeply inconvenient. Usually I’ll just start writing the first two chapters to see what comes out of me, then stop and figure out where it’s going until about the 40,000 word mark, then stop and adjust the plot outline and start again.
What Hogwarts Houses are some of the characters?
Oh, everyone’s a Hufflepuff. I’m busting into the YA world with an unrepentant Hufflepuff agenda. Pepper’s a Hufflepuff with a Slytherin moon; Jack is a Hufflepuff but a Gryffindor rising; Pooja is a Hufflepuff with aggressive Ravenclaw tendencies; Paul is about as Hufflepuff as it gets. But they are all unquestionably Hufflepuffs, and I think that’s going to be the case with most of my YA going forward.
What parts of online culture were important for you to showcase in Tweet Cute?
I really, really wanted to inject the fun of social media in Tweet Cute — the bantery, laugh-out-loud relatability of it, and how it can be full of surprises. I think we’re often so fixated on the bad qualities of social media that we forget the ways it brings us together.
Which came first – the ship name or Pepper & Jack’s name? How did their ship name fully form for you?
MWAHAHAHA. So this was a happy accident, really. I had the name Jack, and I could not for the life of me figure out a name for the girl lead. I tried four or five of them but when I was typing them they all seemed wrong. I think I’d fully finished two chapters and just hit a dead end with it when my brain cells finally crashed into each other and were like “PEPPER!! PEPPER AND JACK!!!!!!!” And that was that.
What do you hope readers take away from the story?
I want the book to feel like eating a really good, deeply satisfying, thick slice of cake. But also, I want readers to consider the kind of pressure they’re under to be a certain way, or pursue certain things, and separate that pressure from what they think is actually best for them — the characters deal with that a lot, as do most of us, and I think that’s something we can all check in with ourselves on every now and then.
The Elven Warrior
For both Jack and Pepper (I adore those names!) what would you consider their core character trait? The thing that makes them solely THEM?
Hmmm — for Pepper I’d say it’s her drive, and for Jack I’d say it’s his empathy. I think they both have a lot of both of those elements, but those seem to be the factors that spur their decision-making in the book and lead them into all their mutual shenanigans.
Sending your first book out into the world and being a debut in general can be nerve wracking. But it can be an amazing! What has been the best thing about this experience?
Is it cheating if I say the whole thing? Everything is new to me — getting to work with a team on edits and marketing and how things look, getting a cover, meeting other authors, having people legitimately read something that I wrote and know that I wrote it (unlike the bajillion years I’ve spent writing fan fic). It feels like every day something happens to me that’s never happened before.
If you had to choose between working in a bakery, a sandwich shop, or as an author, which would you choose and why?
Fun fact: I’ve done ALL THREE of these. I spent my post-grad years working in a sandwich shop, and then a bakery, and then a whole bunch of other things (lol, job market) before becoming a digital media editor and eventual author. I’d say I’d rank them as author (you get to play god to a bunch of characters you made up!), bakery (FREE STALE CUPCAKES EVERY DAY!), and sandwich shop (great coworkers, but not as delicious, and I always came home reeking of basil).
Reading, Writing, and Me
Social media is obviously a huge part of this story. Were you ever hesitant or concerned about trying to capture internet culture in a book? Did you do any kind of research to prepare?
Oh boy, I did almost zero research. I was working as an editor who wrote and assigned daily content based on things going viral both in the social media and food space, so I was already aggressively online. I think my primary concern was mostly trying to keep the book from feeling too hyper specific to the time I was writing it, but also keeping it fresh — I was careful to try and choose the more “lasting” memes than the memes of the week.
One of the major threads of the story has to do with Jack’s app Weazl. How did you get the idea for Weazl? Was it important to you to show the really positive side of social media with this app because I really enjoyed that focus.
I knew I wanted some element where they were getting to know each other without any pressure, so that’s kind of where Weazl came in. I also did want to emphasize that although there are always cases of social media being used for bad, there’s so, so much good that comes out of it too! I really loved the idea of these kids who were forced to be so hyper competitive all their lives coming together in a place where they could help each other out and band together, because ultimately that’s what a lot of these social media platforms and tools help teens do.
Jack and Pepper are both quite complex, well drawn characters that complement each other perfectly. Do you have any advice for writers looking to further develop their own characters, and do you have any advice for people writing multiple points of view?
I think what really helps for me is just figuring out who the characters are by mentally putting them in all kinds of situations that may or may not ever actually land in the book. I think of life experiences I’ve had, or my friends have had, and I ask myself, “How would this character have reacted to that? Would it have been similar or different to the way I did, and why?” That also helped with figuring out the fundamental differences between the two characters when I was switching POVs; I was definitely worried in the beginning about making them sound too alike, so figuring out what set them apart was definitely a priority when I was first shaping them up!
Books Real When Shared
In your opinion, which is one of the best Twitter wars in history?
Hands down, without a doubt when Moon Pie smashed Hostess during the eclipse. Hostess tweeted saying that Golden CupCakes were the official snack of the eclipse, and Moon Pie simply quote retweeted “Lol ok …” and I have been DYING ABOUT IT EVER SINCE. Sometimes I’ll just be walking down the street and think about it and start laughing to myself. We stan the Moon Pie Twitter social media manager from now until the end of time.
Are you a fan of baking like Pepper? And if so, which is your go-to dessert?
Yes!! I’ve been baking my whole life. I can’t say I’m all that good at it, but I sure do love it (one of my little sisters is the true genius who has the actual patience for complicated things). My go-to is anything involving cookie dough; I’d say my favorite dessert on the planet is the “Sex Positive Brownies” in the book, which are the already popular combo of brownies, Oreos, and cookie that are all slightly underbaked. (I also like to add a pinch of salt to mine!)
F A N NA
The twitter war in Tweet Cute is primarily between a fast-food chain and a deli regarding an iconic grilled cheese sandwich. While Pepper is working behind the scenes to defend Big League Burger, Jack is stern on stating the fact that this sandwich recipe belongs to his grandmother who worked hard behind the deli. How did this idea of back-and-forth debating in 280 characters emerge?
The idea actually started at as a tweet! Back in 2017, I made a joke about how there should be a rom-com where two social media managers from competing accounts fell for each other without realizing they were Twitter battling. I knew I wanted it to be over something I already was familiar with, and I was pretty much raised on a steady diet of grilled cheese and Eggo waffles, so grilled cheese became the central focus. It helps that everyone who loves grilled cheese has strong opinions about how it should be made (I have yet to find a single grilled cheese opinion that’s wrong, though — it truly is the most delicious canvas of all).
Tweet Cute also entails some emotionally important themes like the rat race to good grades or college admissions, living up to the academic expectations set up by parents, figuring out everything by the end of senior year in high school, and being unresponsive to the pressure of familial responsibilities. What would you like the targeted young readers to take away from such aspects of the story?
I think the main takeaway I want is for young readers to know that everything is never set in stone. The things you study in high school, the colleges that accept you right out of the gates — it can all just be a blip if you let it. It’s easy to transfer schools, to change your course of study, to start all over again if you want to (trust me, I did all three of those things, sometimes more than once). Pepper and Jack deal with a lot of the pressure of thinking their futures are decided for them because they’re already committed to a certain path, but the truth is that path only gets more forked with options the older you get and the better you understand yourself.
Lastly, which of the two main characters Pepper or Jack do you see more of yourself in? The over-achiever girl with social-media managing ability and baking talents, or the goofball boy with the coding aptitude and a sweet-tooth?
Oh, boy. I think I’m a Jack-esque goofball when I’m out with my friends, but I’m so, SO much like Pepper in the privacy of my own brain. I think that’s why I was especially worried about how people would react to her — that was very much me, both in high school and now, even if it’s not necessarily the personality I project when I’m not working. That said, I could not code my way out of a paper bag. (Jack inspired me to take some free coding lessons for fun, though, so we’ll see!)
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I love when you think you have the whole thing plotted out and then midway through the draft a character surprises you and is like, “Nah, I’m not gonna do that. Here’s what I’m gonna do instead.” Never a dull moment!
What is your go-to writing snack?
I’m actually terrible at snacking and writing, but I am definitely a tea gal. I’m part of the 5am writer’s club, and tea is the one way to bribe my lazy butt out of bed. That said, my entire life and times is basically sponsored by Taco Bell. When I hit word count for the day you can almost always find me in line for a spicy tostada and chips and guac.
What is your favorite Rom-com (book/tv/film)?
I love love love the movie About Time, and the book Something Borrowed. Those are my main comfort watch and comfort read for sure. I think there is something innately Hufflepuff about the main characters in both of those works, and being inside their brains is a cozy place to be because of it.
In Between Book Pages
Tweet Cute featured a Twitter brand war, something we have seen (and laughed at) before [e.g. Taco Bell vs Old Spice, Burger King vs Wendy’s]. Were you inspired by any IRL Twitter brand war?
I wasn’t inspired by any one Twitter war, but definitely Twitter Brand War Culture. I work in digital media, so I was covering a lot of them in pieces I was writing and assigning out. Plus one of my very close friends is a social media manager, and it was always funny to get insight on her side of the Twitter curtain and find out what’s really going on behind the scenes. A lot of that factored into the decision to write the book.
Even though Tweet Cute is mostly sweet and fluffy, both Jack and Pepper was put through the wringer having to deal with school, their families and friends, and deciding what they want to do. What do you want your readers, especially the younger ones, to take away from your story? And if you could give them an advice, what would that be?
I guess one of the takeaways that felt important to me was that nothing really truly gets “set in stone” in high school; even if you’ve set yourself on a certain path or feel obligated to follow one someone set out for you, you’re allowed to change your mind. Also, the thing you’re meant to do and truly love might be the last thing you expect! Definitely let your heart lead you, whenever you’re lucky enough to find things you’re passionate about.
Finally, using three memes, describe Tweet Cute.
OKAY MY BODY IS READY. My number one is based on that text post meme that’s like “on the outside I am human on the inside I am pasta and sin,” except for Tweet Cute it’s “on the outside i am human on the inside i am cheese and tweets”.
Number two is the “is this a pigeon?” meme:
Number three is the Captain America detention meme, and it is not aimed at Pepper and Jack, but at me.
A Glass Of Wine
What gif do you feel best describes Tweet Cute?
I don’t know if this is a meme or a GIF, really, but the Elmo fire one comes to mind. I think it’s sort of come to represent a weird intersection of joy/pain/chaos/hilarity, and I think Tweet Cute’s got all of that in the mix.
If a signature ice cream were to be made for Tweet Cute what might be included?
OOOOH. I think the base would be a classic vanilla, but it would be stuffed to the gills with Rolos, Reese’s, Oreos, and rainbow sprinkles like Monster Cake from the book, and have ribbons of caramel and a healthy pinch of salt and oh my god I am so hungry now, BYE.
Tweet Cute is inspired by You’ve Got Mail. What are some of your other favourite rom-coms?
I love About Time above all, I think, but I’m also a fan of Crazy Rich Asians, The Proposal, 27 Dresses, Bride Wars, Love, Rosie, and the woefully underrated period rom-com, Mrs. Pettigrew Lives For A Day. I’m sure I am missing about a gazillion that I also love.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy and being a part of the Tweet Cute book tour. The book will be out January 21.