‘How to End a Love Story’ Author Yulin Kuang on Plans for TV Adaptation of Her Debut Novel and Writing Emily Henry’s ‘Beach Read’ Movie

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for Yulin Kuang’s new novel “How to End a Love Story,” which was released April 9.

Yulin Kuang was deep into her romance-novel era before she released her own first attempt at the genre, “How to End a Love Story,” last month. The debut author, who has thus far spent her career focused on TV and film writing, actually started penning her book while in the middle of adapting two rom-coms by best-selling author Emily Henry: “Beach Read” (which Kuang will also direct) and “People We Meet on Vacation.”

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“How to End a Love Story” follows the straight-laced, successful author Helen and charming former jock Grant, who fall in love while working together in a TV writers’ room that is adapting Helen’s YA book series. And despite the book’s title and the dark high-school history Helen and Grant share surrounding Helen’s little sister’s death when they were teens, Kuang gets them to a happily ever after by the end.

Here, Kuang (who created the now-canceled CW series “I Ship It!”) explains to Variety how she’d want to see her own book adapted by Hollywood — including the fact she’d prefer a TV series over a movie (for obvious reasons).

If it gets adapted, would you prefer “How to End a Love Story” as a TV show or a movie?

I would only do it as a series. I was talking to an executive friend and she was like, “Why won’t you do this as a movie?” And I was like, “Because I don’t want to have the Act Two in New Jersey. I want to have the New Jersey episode.” That makes more sense to me. I want the camping episode, the Jersey episode. But I don’t want the Act Two as camping and New Jersey and then we come back. That doesn’t feel like the promise of our premise, as a movie. Also I’m just really drawn to the meta idea of a TV show about a writers’ room and seeing how an actual writers’ room would transform this into something else that’s suited to the medium.

Are you currently in talks with any studio, network or streamer for the TV rights?

We are not. We haven’t taken it out officially, I think because my team actually really wants me to consider a movie and I’m not going to change my mind.

Do you have any actors in mind to play Grant and Helen?

I honestly don’t really do fan casting. I wonder if it’s because I work in Hollywood and I work with actors so much that there’s a part of me that’s just so aware of how an individual actor can come into a role and inhabit it and it’s this perfect blend of alchemy where they they become the character and that erases what you had before. So I wasn’t really thinking of specific actors so much as archetypes. Like she is this overachiever type and then he’s the Golden Boy. So I was thinking in terms of those archetypes, but not specific actors.

Would you want to be the showrunner or write the series yourself? How involved would you want to be?

I would want more control than Helen because I’m more established in my career than Helen. But I would want more voices in the writers’ room. I wouldn’t want to do the thing where it’s just me. Because I know that that is the thing that some people do. But given the nature of the story, it’s interesting to bring in other voices. And I’d probably want to direct the pilot and maybe also the finale. But I would be very interested in seeing what other artists would bring to it because I think that’s the fun part of filmmaking being a team sport.

I know you have a three-book deal with publisher Avon — have you considered doing a followup to “How to End a Love Story” as one of those books?

The thing that draws me to romance as a genre is the way that the stories end, which is not necessarily how the characters end. I think that the characters are existing in this world: Grant is living through pilot season and Helen’s in the background, writing books and things right. But I think this is where I leave them. I have written them to the point that I am interested in them and I’m ready to take on other stories.

When I spoke with Emily Henry before her new book “Funny Story” came out, she was looking forward to getting new drafts of “Beach Read” and “People We Meet on Vacation” from you. Have you all spoken about those yet and how close are you to locking the scripts?

I did deliver those drafts before I went on book tour. And the thing I’ve realized is when they say pub month in publishing, they mean pub month. They’re taking the entire 30 or 31 days. Once pub month is over, I resume work on “Beach Read.” There will be notes from the studio on “Beach Read,” at least. But my time with “People We Meet on Vacation” is probably done. I think [director] Brett [Haley] has got it from here.

Emily’s new book “Funny Story” and her one before that, “Happy Place,” are not currently being developed for TV or film. If and when those rights are sold, would you want to adapt either or both of them as well?

Listen, I love Emily. I love her work so much, so much about it resonates with me. I’ll never say a hard no — but my dance card is quite full.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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