Love, Identity and Representation: Talking with Camille Perri, Author of ‘When Katie Met Cassidy’

Over here, we love a good love story. “Are you sure?” you might ask after perusing our previous book choices, but we swear. We really do love a good love story. Even more? We love diversity in our literature. And not just diversity, but representation across the board.

That’s why, among many, many other reasons, we were in love with Camille Perri’s fantastic love story When Katie Met Cassidy. 

It tells the story of Katie, a lawyer in New York who has just broken off her engagement after learning her fiancé has been sleeping with one of her closest friends, as she meets fellow lawyer Cassidy. The two could not be more different. Katie is statuesque in her skirt suits, blonde hair and blue eyes. Cassidy, who Katie has originally mistaken for a man, is her polar opposite. She’s not only dressed in a men’s suit, but commands the boardroom like any of her male counterparts.

After the two opposing women deal with a long day of negotiations, they happen upon each other on the street when Katie wants to get out and Cassidy is on her way to her local hangout, The Met. Cassidy invites Katie along and a night of drunken fun follows. Cassidy makes sure that Katie gets home okay and when she wakes up the next morning to see all that Cassidy has done for her, a glass of water, some tylenol and the coffee maker ready, it’s all she can do the next day to not think of Cassidy.

The two find themselves drawn to each other in ways neither thought was possible. Katie, for instance, has only ever been with men, so what does it mean that she wants to know what it’s like to be with Cassidy? And for Cassidy, monogamy is not a word she understands, so why does she find herself feeling differently about Katie?

Luckily, we got to pick Camille’s brain about her fabulous book.

When Katie Met Cassidy has been out for almost a year. What’s the reception been like?

The reception has been great. I’ve been really moved by the many people who’ve reached out to me on social media to say how much the story resonated with them, and how much they enjoyed seeing characters like themselves depicted in the novel.

Something we’ve found recently is the accessibility to not only queer stories, but also to queer authors. What do you think has created that shift? Do you see that?

I think this shift has been happening slowly for a very long time, but the passing of marriage equality really sped things up in terms of queerness being more accepted as a norm. I don’t think there are necessarily more queer writers writing now than there were before, but because of this paradigm shift queer writers are probably being more widely considered for publication. It’s not just out of the kindness of people’s hearts, either. The business world has finally figured out that it makes fiscal sense to reach out to the queer community.

What was the catalyst for When Katie Met Cassidy?

The catalyst for me writing the novel was that it was a story I couldn’t find but wanted to see available to a mainstream audience. The catalyst for Katie and Cassidy’s budding romance? Your readers are just gonna have to check out the novel to find that out.

One of the first things we want to address about the story is how Katie, a heterosexual, immediately assumes that Cassidy, a lesbian, is hitting on her. A lot of women seem to think that when a lesbian speaks to them, they’re instantly interested. Why was that stereotype important to include in the narrative?

Well, I think Katie is the kind of girl who would assume many men are instantly hitting on her as well. She’s used to this kind of attention and is generally on guard to it. But Katie is also someone who, until her breakup, was living a fairly homogenized, insular life. Encountering someone who presents herself the way Cassidy does is a new experience to her and she isn’t totally sure what her initial reactions to Cassidy actually mean. Her knee-jerk, fear based first reaction is of course to say, “You know I’m straight, right?”

In the book, the characters have found a safe haven in the form of a seedy, run-down bar called Metropolis—not a very aesthetically pleasing environment, but critical to the well-being and safety of the queer community Cassidy (and now Katie) are apart of. Why do you think spaces like Metropolis are so important for LGBTQIA+ individuals?

Spaces like Metropolis are important because they’re physical places people can go to find others like themselves—a community. I know a lot of this now happens online in a way it couldn’t years ago, but there’s still something special about being able to enter a room feeling completely at ease because everyone there is on the same page in terms of gender and sexuality. Or if not “everyone” than at least the majority, which is not the case for LGBTQIA+ people in straight, cis spaces.

So often, we see queer characters meet tragic endings—“bury your gays” is an actual defined trope we see much too frequently in the media, so it’s incredibly refreshing and heartwarming to see a queer relationship work out and have each partner arrive at their happy ending together. Why do you think this trope exists? Did this play into your decision to give Katie and Cassidy a happy ending?

I was insistent from the very beginning of writing this book that no one in it would get sick, beat up, or die. Conventional romance novels have happy endings as a given—everyone knows this, but readers still enjoy the journey of Meet-Lose-Get to a satisfying, joyful conclusion. Queers deserve this simple pleasure just as much as everyone else.

Katie never really “comes out” as a lesbian, although she decides to accept herself and live her life with Cassidy openly and honestly. Was not giving Katie a “label” a conscious decision?

Yes. I did my best to avoid labels as much as I could in this book. I did this because my personal belief system is that gender and sexuality both function on a spectrum, but also because it wasn’t “in character” for these two characters to think in those terms.

What was writing this story like for you? Why this story?

I’ve always known I wanted to write a queer love story; I just wasn’t always sure what form it would take. I’d attempted various versions of similar stories for the past fifteen years or so. This was the one that stuck.

Where do you see the future of LGBTQIA+ literature? How long do you think it’ll take for us to not even have to say that?

The future, I hope, will make great strides in terms of society’s understanding and acceptance of gender and sexuality—in literature, media, and, most importantly, everyday life. I’d like to see a lot less rigidity and policing of people’s identities, and a far greater variety in representation across the board. How long will that take? Hopefully not as much time as it currently feels like it will take.

Now to some fun ones! If this story were to become a movie (we would absolutely love if it did), who would be your dream cast?

I’m too superstitious to answer this question because there is still the possibility that a When Katie Met Cassidy movie will happen and actually be cast with real life celebrities. But. I will tell you the suggestions that have most often come to me from fans of the book via social media or at events. For Katie, Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone. For Cassidy, Kristen Stewart or Evan Rachel Wood.

(Megan’s Note: Okay, I fully saw Jennifer Lawrence as Katie, but I’m here for Kristen Stewart as Cassidy.)

Was there any specific music you listened to while writing this?

Yes! And I put many of those songs into a Spotify playlist called the When Katie Met Cassidy Playlist. Find it here: https://open.spotify.com/user/cper19/playlist/1Ms7uQ39Hvf0SMAKZOP76X?si=mXKHb0-fRk2p2W5UaQJ6vA

(Megan’s Note: Okay, hi. So neat.)
What are you working on now? We’re already impatiently awaiting your next work!

I’m currently at work on a dark family comedy. I hope you’re not too impatient because it may take a while. But hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.

And finally, what five books do you recommend to our readers?

I always have a hard time answering this question because reading tastes are so personal and subjective, but these are the last five books I read and enjoyed: Educated by Tara Westover; Against Memoir by Michelle Tea; Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden; The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein; Wordslut by Amanda Montell.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a sweet love story that will have you wrapped up in each page constantly oscillating between will they and won’t they? It’s an important story that needs to be told so that queer stories are the norm on our shelves and best-seller’s lists.

This is the kind of book you want to read when you want a great love story. Pick up your copy today!

7 comments

  1. What an interesting idea for a book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so openly. I tend to avoid romance novels for their predictability though.

    Like

  2. I am still undecided on labels. As a mother of a child with sensory processing disorder, I see both the benefits and the harm of labeling him as a ‘special needs’ child. While, it’s not a special needs issue, I can also see both pros and cons of labeling the characters according to their sexuality.

    Like

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