Frenzy Presents: Yulin Kuang, How to End a Love Story

Frenzy Presents: Yulin Kuang, How to End a Love Story

We’re OBSESSED with debut author Yulin Kuang, and her forthcoming romance novel, How to End a Love Story! If you love Emily Henry and Carley Fortune‘s books, Yulin’s How to End a Love Story is a must read. And in case you haven’t heard, Yulin is adapting Emily Henry‘s Beach Read for film! We’re excited to welcome Yulin to The Edit and give you, our Frenzy fans, an exclusive interview with her before How to End a Love Story hits shelves this April! 

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

The last time Helen saw Grant was 13 years ago when their lives were bound together forever by a tragic accident. Now a bestselling author, Helen’s YA novel is being adapted for TV and one of the screenwriters working on the show happens to be Grant. Grant’s exactly as Helen remembers him—charming, funny, popular, and lovable in ways that she’s never been. And Helen’s exactly as Grant remembers too—brilliant, beautiful, closed off. Working together is messy… and electrifying. When secrets come to light, they must reckon with the fact that theirs was never meant to be any kind of love story. And yet, the key to making peace with their past—and themselves—might just lie in holding on to each other in the present.



A Q&A with Yulin Kuang

On Writing:

Frenzy: How to End a Love Story is your debut novel, but it’s not your first writing project! Since you’re a screenwriter by trade, did you find it difficult transitioning from screenwriting to writing a full-length novel? What did you find different or the same about the process?

Yulin: I wrote a novel because I wanted to see what kind of story I would tell, if I didn’t have to convince anyone else to get on board with my vision before I could tell it. I drafted How to End a Love Story in secret, during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and the process was honestly a dream – I think I went into some kind of fugue state and wrote in the mornings and the evenings and looked forward to opening the document every time. I have not been able to replicate this for the drafting of book two!

Screenwriting is a lot like architecture – as the screenwriter, my job is to create a blueprint for production. There’s a real economy of language there, because we don’t have much use for things we can’t see on screen. You can’t film a beautiful sentence, you have to find visually compelling ways to convey the poetry of your piece.

Writing the novel felt more like gardening – I was sowing seeds with intention, but they ended up growing in directions I never expected. The manuscript I ended up with was not the one I set out to write, but looking back, it makes sense that this was the story that came out of me at that point in time. There’s certainly a lot more room for surprising myself in prose.

On Adapting Others’ Work:

Frenzy: Your screenwriting credits include Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation, Beach Read (which you’re also directing!) and many more. When it comes to adapting other people’s work for the screen, what is the hardest part to get right? And, if How to End a Love Story is adapted, would you want to be involved on the same level as Helen is?

Yulin: As a reader, my favorite lines in a novel often aren’t from the dialogue, they’re from the ways the author has set down a thought or experience that I’ve had before too, and am seeing reflected back at me for the first time by a stranger. The hardest part of adaptation is finding visual ways to show all that wonderful interiority on the screen, but it’s also the fun part of translating black-and-white text into something that looks real enough to touch.

Given my professional background, I would want to be more involved than Helen – I would want to be involved on the same level as Suraya, and I’d probably want to direct the pilot, pending my avails. The French word auteur, which we use to describe certain fancy writer/directors, means literally author. Like Napoleon, I intend to expand my reach from France.

On the Writers’ Room:

Frenzy: In How to End a Love Story, the screenwriters adapting Helen’s book tell stories in the writing room to get to know each other better. Do you have a writing room story you’d be willing to share with us?

Yulin: If Grant Shepard told me to reveal my darkest secrets on day one of a writers’ room, I’d tell him anything he wanted to know and be flattered he asked. But there is a certain sacred thing about writers rooms, that the things you’re saying are off the record, human-to-human, in service to a story that isn’t necessarily your own. I’m pretty sure my own ~dark secrets~ would all make me sound terrible in print, but buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you more.

On Romance and Heavy Topics:

Frenzy: Romance as a genre has flourished in recent years as more and more readers look for an easy escape from their daily lives. In contrast, How to End a Love Story explores heavy topics like grief, mental health, and past relationships alongside the same characteristics that romance readers love. How did you approach striking a balance between the complex issues Helen and Grant face and their romance?

Yulin: Romance with a happy ending is associated with escapism, but I got into romance for the swoony, swoopy, heart-clinching feelings it gave me. I think in the marketing and sales of romance, we sometimes flatten the genre into kisses and happy endings, when the best romances remind me what it is to be a human who yearns for connection.

I understand why this happens on the marketing/sales side – whatever gets eyeballs to the screen, butts in the theater, books in the hands of readers, I am for it as an artist!

But I do hope that the people responsible for telling these stories remember that there is room to explore more than just kisses and happy endings. To be clear – I don’t want every romance to be chock full of heaviness, I want romcoms that take me to soft warm places too! I want the space to exist for the full spectrum of what I know romance writers are capable of.

How to End a Love Story was me experimenting with the boundaries of what I personally wanted to make space for under the contemporary romance label.

On Writing Tips:

Frenzy: I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to reading romance, the tension between characters is key. Do you have any tips for writers who want to build romantic tension in their stories?

Yulin: I believe it was Susan Elizabeth Phillips who said, “If your hero is a fire fighter, your heroine had better be an arsonist”. I think about that a lot. I also read a 2-star Goodreads review once that said something to the effect of, Why spend 400 pages writing a romance if you aren’t going to show them falling in love? I think about that a lot now too, whenever I feel myself itching to ‘skip to the good part’ where they’re already in love.

On the Future:

Frenzy: What are you working on right now?

Yulin: Too many things, probably. I’m currently juggling a revision on People We Meet On Vacation, a revision on Beach Read, drafting book two, and trying to get Filthy, an original feature I wrote on spec, made. Maybe I’ll join a circus next.



Yulin Kuang is a screenwriter and director, whose credits include The CW’s I Ship It and Hulu’s Dollface. She was once fired from a Hallmark movie for being ‘too hip for Hallmark’ and is the adapting screenwriter of Emily Henry’s People We Meet On Vacation, as well as the writer/director of the forthcoming Beach Read film for 20th Century Studios. She lives in Pasadena with her husband Zack and their orange cat, Eloise.


Start Reading How to End a Love Story!


All things considered, her little sister’s funeral is a pretty boring affair.

Helen Zhang (the good one, the smart one, the boring one, according to Michelle, may she rest in peace) sits in the front row between her grieving parents. If Michelle were here, she would be snickering at something inappropriate, like the accidentally phallic floral arrangement draped over her closed casket. If Michelle were here, she’d be restlessly tapping her foot, anxious to sneak a cigarette in the bathroom, already plotting her escape to an afterparty. If Michelle were here—it wouldn’t be so fucking quiet.

Helen’s mother shakes with silent, rolling sobs and grips her surviving daughter’s right hand so hard, Helen lost feeling in it during the pastor’s welcome remarks. Her father stares at the wooden easel holding Michelle’s sophomore-year photo. His gaze drifts first to the bland church window blinds (not for the first time, Helen wishes they were Catholic, for the vibes), then to the shoes of the pastor. Dad looks everywhere there isn’t someone with a face to look back at him.

Helen used up all her own tears in the first forty-eight hours, shaking and crying alone in her room like some dumb wounded animal until her eyes were puffy slits, pondering existential questions too big to be captured in pathetic words. The well has dried up, and all that’s left is a growing pit of resentment that threatens to swallow her whole. She hates the pastor’s trite remarks trying to imbue Michelle’s short life with meaning, hates Mom’s tears, hates Dad’s lack of them, maybe she even hates herself, but why? Really, if there’s anyone she should be mad at, it’s Michelle

A door in the back of the church creaks open—a late mourner—and a sudden prickling at the back of Helen’s neck says: it’s him.

Hushed whispers dash up the aisle, and even though Helen tells herself not to turn her head, not to look—Mom isn’t so lost in her grief as to miss the sudden shift of attention in the room. She turns and lets out a dramatic wail that Helen can’t help feeling embarrassed by.

Helen turns around and her eyes confirm, it’s Grant Shepard, Grant Fucking Shepard. Class president, homecoming king, lover of parties and friends and teachers and football. And killer of my sister.

That last part seems unlikely to hold up in a court of law—there were enough eyewitnesses to suggest sixteen-year-old Michelle Zhang darted in front of eighteen-year-old Grant Shepard’s SUV shortly after two a.m. last Friday (and caused a grim traffic jam on Route 22) on purpose. There were enough “key search terms” in Michelle’s internet history to confirm it. And the most humiliating blow for their parents: there was enough in the toxicology report to warrant the phrase troubled youth in the local news coverage.

About Michelle, not Grant.

Everyone felt bad for Grant: how sad, how tragic, how selfish that this girl—practically a stranger, some sophomore with a suicidal itch—would do something like this, forcing a bright young man like him to have to live with accidentally killing someone for the rest of his bright, promising life.

You,” Mom says, standing in the middle of the aisle, her mouth gasping for air like they’re in a Greek tragedy.

Grant Shepard stands still, as if he exists just to be gasped at by grieving mothers and gawked at by middle-aged Chinese aunties and uncles.

Excerpt from How to End a Love Story, Copyright © 2024 by Yulin Kuang. All rights reserved.


Enter for the chance to win 1 of 5 ARCs of How to End a Love Story!


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Contest opens March 28th at 12:00 AM and closes April 3 at 11:59 PM ET. Enter online at . Open to legal residents of Canada, excluding Quebec, who have reached the age of majority in their province/territory of residence or older. Void where prohibited by law. Five (5) prizes available to be won, consisting of 1 Advance Reader Copy of How to End a Love Story. Prize Approximate Retail Value: $0 CAD. PRIZES MUST BE ACCEPTED AS AWARDED. Maximum of one (1) entry allowed per person, plus five (5) bonus entries. View the Official Rules.