November 26, 2017

Not Now, Not Ever Blog Tour: Q&A with Lily Anderson

The Book


Elliot 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 mother'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 attitude, 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.

The Author

LILY ANDERSON is a school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California, far from her mortal enemy: the snow. 

The Interview

1. Who's your favorite character in Not Now, Not Ever?
Lily: 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.

2. What is your writing process? Are you a pantser? (That would be especially interesting given the literary conversation with the plays). Outliner?
Lily: 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.

3. Please give the elevator pitch for Not Now, Not Ever.
Lily: Using The Importance Of Being Earnest as a guide, Elliot Gabaroche runs away from home to compete for a college scholarship.

4. Without spoilers, what was your 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).

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

6. What is next?
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 Latina book I’ve always wanted to write.

7. Do you have a dream cast for if there was ever a movie version of Not Now, Not Ever?
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. 

Emma: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what are your go-to artists or genres?
Lily: Every book I write has its own playlist. For Not Now, Not Ever, there was a lot of old school hip hop like Kris Kross and DJ Kool (stuff Elliot would be way too young to remember), Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift (the RED era), and the Space Jam and Pitch Perfect soundtracks.

Emma: Cake or pie, and what kind?

Lily: Pie all day! Cake doesn’t have crust. I love all kinds of fruit pie, but a cherry pie made with fresh cherries is probably my favorite. (Don’t forget real homemade whipped cream.)

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