Q&A with Lily Anderson

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About the book:

image002.jpgElliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer.

  1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
  2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
  3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mom’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her determination, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

About the author:

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LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You.

For those who are going to skip the book description, can you give us the elevator pitch for Not Now, Not Ever.

Using The Importance Of Being Earnest as a guide, Elliot Gabaroche runs away from home to compete for a college scholarship.

What is your writing process like? Are you a pantser? Outliner?

I’m an outliner and my outlines get more serious with every book. With NOT NOW, I outlined a three act structure which was basically “Elliot runs away. Elliot is at camp. Camp is really hard.” If I were outlining the same story now, it would have a chapter by chapter breakdown with character beats.

What do you most hope that readers take away from your novels (either or both)?

I want all my readers to take away a sense of happiness. NOT NOW, NOT EVER and its predecessor, THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU, are fluff. Hopefully well crafted, artisanal and organic fluff but fluff nonetheless. NOT NOW is very much a story about choosing a path, but also realizing that the paths don’t close behind you. I want my readers to have hope for Elliot’s path and their own.

What was the weirdest thing you needed to research for the story?

Boot camp stories! I read a lot of Air Force message boards to see what a “typical” boot camp experience was to help shape Elliot’s family and her expectations about what it would be like to serve.

What was the first scene you thought of and how did you know that the story was worth exploring?

The first thing I thought of for the book was Elliot taking a train from Davis, California to Eugene, Oregon, a trip I took myself when I was 15 and visiting friends. I knew that setting up that Elliot was leaving home without her parents knowing where she was really going would culminate in a reckoning of some kind and I wanted to see how big the fall out would be.

Without spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?

Any scene that happens in the Mo-Lo library. As a librarian, I took particular joy in creating a giant fantastical library of my dreams (and putting some swoon inside).

Do you have a dream cast for if there was ever a movie version of NOT NOW, NOT EVER?

In four or five years, I think that Marsai Martin (Diane from Blackish) and Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) would be a perfect Elliot and Brandon. Wendell Cheeseman, the professor in charge of Camp Onward, was written with Paul Scheer  (from my all-time favorite podcast, How Did This Get Made, and TV shows like Fresh Off The Boat and The League) in mind.

What is one book you are an evangelical for?

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. As a librarian, I can’t get my feelings hurt when people don’t like my favorite books. Not all books are for all people! But I would brook no dissent about Ella Enchanted. It’s perfectly crafted. (But, like, let’s not talk about the movie.)

Who’s your favorite character in NOT NOW, NOT EVER?

Definitely Elliot. She’s so different than me—she’s sporty where I’m slothy and brave where I’m scared and into Sci-Fi where I’m into romance novels and musicals. I loved being in her head for the year I was writing the book.

What is next?

My next book, UNDEAD GIRL GANG, comes out from Penguin Razorbill on May 8, 2018! It’s Veronica Mars meets The Craft in the fat Wiccan Latina book I’ve always wanted to write.

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