I have an obsession with friends-to-lovers stories, and stories about close-knit friends in general, which is where the idea for this story came from. I wanted to write the friends to lovers romance that would make my heart happy and the friend group I wish I’d had.
Keep reading for more about the inspiration for the people and places of Friends Like This…
Aaron Once upon a time, there was a boy named Aaron with bright blond hair and an infectious smile. He was my first baby crush and BFF. No, I’m not writing to you as Rae McKinley. From ages 4-6, I had a sweet little boy in my life named Aaron (not Cooper) who was the inspiration for the Aaron you read about in Friends Like This. He moved away before first grade and I haven’t seen him since, but when I started dreaming up this best friends to lovers romance, I remembered him. Of course, the resemblance stops at his features and the way he made my 5-year-old heart feel.
Sarah and Mackie Mackie’s calm, sure of herself, slightly raunchy, and take no bullshit personality as well as Sarah’s protectiveness and willingness to cut someone for Rae were both inspired by my real-life close friend, Laura.
Joel I grew up going to a tiny private school. My class sizes were small and everyone was close and there tended to be more boys than girls. While Joel isn’t inspired by anyone specifically, when I was thinking back to some of those friends, I realized he has some qualities in common with one of my former classmates, Mike, who definitely annoyed me and playfully teased me the way Joel does with Rae.
Miles Miles is one of the most fully fictional characters I’ve ever written. He’s nothing like anyone I know and I can’t think of any public figure or character like him. I just heard his voice in my head and saw him so clearly.
Rae If you ever wanted to dig into my psyche… well, Rae is a pretty good look at that. She’s essentially a bolder, more extroverted, and slightly more dramatic version of me. We’re both enneagram 9s, love spy shows, and cry at everything. 😉
As mentioned before, from kindergarten through sixth grade, I went to a little private school with very few people in my class. Because of that, we were all fairly close. That was a piece of the inspiration for the close friendships these characters have, but rather than those friendships fading as mine did, I chose to have them grow into something deeper and more complex—something I wish I would have had. Their friendships were also inspired by my middle and high school years living right near downtown and spending all summer running between my best friends’ houses and having fun.
Ida, NY is a fictional town based heavily on my hometown of Owego, NY. Like the six main characters in this book, I lived right near downtown. Several of my closest friends lived on the same block. There was a bakery on the same block, and we spent plenty of time going back and forth between each other’s houses. Rae’s house was inspired by my own, while Aaron’s was inspired by one of my close friend’s. Certain restaurants like Marion’s and The Pit are also inspired by actual locations—but that’s more the aesthetic than the food. Oh, and speaking of food. If you hear the characters mention spiedies, those are a real thing authentic to the Binghamton area of NY. You learn more about them here.
The Card Games
Like Rae and her friends, I spent many many nights up late playing Nickels, Bullshit, or Spit. And many afternoons. Mornings. Any time, really. It’s what my friends and I always did when we were together. And yes, one of my friends and I always teamed up to cheat at Bullshit. You can learn more about the card games below. Nickels Spit Bullshit
If you haven’t listened to the playlist for Friends Like This, you can find it here. However, if there’s one song that gives me all the Friends Like This feels, it’s Old Friends by Ben Rector. His entire album, Magic, captures the nostalgia that I feel when I’m in the Friends Like This world incredibly well.
Have you read Friends Like This yet? If not, make sure to grab your copy and fall in love with Rae and Aaron and their best friends & the entire town of Ida.