Hannah Orenstein is the author of Playing with Matches (2018), Love at First Like (2019), and a third novel forthcoming from Atria Books (2020). She’s also the Senior Dating Editor at Elite Daily; previously, she was a writer and editor at Seventeen.com and the youngest matchmaker at the largest luxury dating service in the country. She lives in Brooklyn.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
When I was 21, I worked as a matchmaker for a luxury dating service in New York. I was completely out of my element — my clients were busy professionals in their 30s and 40s who mostly wanted to get married, and I was a college kid with no clue how to get married — but it was the most exhilarating experience. I scouted out eligible singles using dating apps, brainstormed matches, and planned elaborate dates. That job inspired my first novel, Playing with Matches, which is about a young matchmaker in New York!
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why?
My younger sister Julia is always my first reader. I don’t know if I would’ve had the motivation to finish the first draft of my first novel if I hadn’t sent her a few chapters and had her begging for more. Ever since then, she’s always been the first set of eyes on any new work. She’s a great cheerleader, but also isn’t afraid to give a solid critique. Depending on what I feel I need with each chapter or draft, she’ll tailor her feedback accordingly.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
After I sold Playing with Matches, I decided to buy myself a piece of jewelry to celebrate the milestone. I did some research into a number of different designers and brands before I finally settled on a small diamond pendant from Greenwich Street Jewelers, a family-owned business in New York. I wear it daily and it never fails to make me smile.
What I didn’t expect was this: During the process of researching jewelers, I fell down a rabbithole on Instagram of jewelry designers with hundreds of thousands of followers. I was fascinated by the way these influencers operated, and that became my inspiration for my second novel, Love at First Like, which is about a jewelry design who accidentally leads her 100,000 followers to think she’s engaged when she’s not — and so she sets out to find a fake fiancé to play the role on Instagram.
That necklace? Best money I ever spent.
What was the first piece of writing you ever published or saw in print?
I’m revealing exactly how much of a millennial I am here: My first published clip was in the Neopian Times, the online newspaper on Neopets.com. I was 11 years old and totally ecstatic. To celebrate, my parents took me out for dinner and gave me a fancy pen as a gift. I was lucky they took my interest in writing so seriously from such an early age.
Tell us about your next big project.
I’m currently working on my third novel, which is set in the world of elite gymnastics and due out summer 2020, in time for the Olympics. I was a gymnast for 15 years, and so this is a subject I’ve been craving to write about for a long time!
About Love at First Like
Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.
Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper. And in real life he shows promise, too. He would be perfect, if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is “engaged”; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. She can either stay engaged online or fall in love in real life.
Written with singular charm and style, Love at First Like is for anyone growing up and settling down in the digital age.