Another week, another author! It’s James again, and I’m back here with Lily Anderson. Lily’s an elementary school librarian, a huge Harry Potter nerd, and the author of The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You. Her new book, Not Now, Not Ever, is coming out this Tuesday. It’s the story of a girl named Elliot who runs away from home to compete for a college scholarship, all while assuming the identity of Ever Lawrence. I sat down with Lily to chat about her new book, her role as a librarian, and more. Let’s get to it!
James: Hey Lily! Thanks so much for joining me today! I loved getting to read Not Now, Not Ever. So much fun! And so many fun characters! Which was your favorite character to write?
Lily: Definitely Elliot/Ever. 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.
James: Ever's such an amazing character! She's fierce and nerdy and unapologetic, even among strangers. She had that one line about wanting to be a superhero when she was little, and my heart just about exploded. Where did you get the inspiration for her?
Lily: Ever is sort of opposite me. For my first YA book, I wrote Trixie by finding the things we had in common and going from there. Ever is totally the opposite. She’s a tough Air Force brat who is totally shaped by her love of science fiction. The defining moment of Ever’s character for me when she uses the Litany Against Fear from Herbert’s Dune to push herself. I totally stole this from my best friend who uses the Litany Against Fear as a mindfulness meditation. That got me thinking about how loving science fiction from a young age would make a character whose heroes are Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor. And that’s Ever.
James: If you had the opportunity to cast the film version for Not Now, Not Ever, who would you cast?
Lily: 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.
James: One of my favorite parts about Not Now, Not Ever was the whole camp vibe. I mean, Amoeba Tag?!? It reminded me of when I was in college and would spend the summers as a camp counselor up in the mountains. Where do you like to go when you need a getaway?
Lily: Every year I spend a weekend in the Southern Oregon mountains with my writer besties, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Candice Montgomery. It’s technically a writing retreat, but it’s also a giant wine-soaked sleepover with the literal most talented people I’ve ever known.
James: Did you have a favorite scene to write?
Lily: 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).
James: I loved all the book references throughout the story. Ernest Cline, Octavia Butler, Oscar Wilde, and so many more! Your background as a librarian totally came through. But I'm curious...what would your dream career be if you weren't a librarian or author?
Lily: The boring practical answer is that I would teach kindergarten. But! There is an alternate timeline somewhere in which I got to live my dream and open my own theater. Theater (particularly musical theater) has been a lifelong passion of mine and I always wanted to be a dramaturg (the research librarian of the theater) as well as direct. I still have a notebook full of ideas for deconstructing well known musicals and setting them in new locations or reorchestrating them to evoke a new response.
James: What do you most hope that readers take away from Not Not, Not Ever?
Lily: 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.
James: So what’s next for you, Lily? Anything you can tell us about your next book?
Lily: 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.
That’s it for today’s interview with Lily, but before you leave, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. As a PickMyYA subscriber, you’ll be given access to exclusive giveaways, book recommendations, and more! And don’t forget to come back again next week when Isela will be interviewing Brandy Colbert about her new book, Little & Lion.