Severed Heads, Broken Hearts is published in the UK tomorrow by Simon and Schuster, and it's SO good. You can read my review here. To summarise: it's like John Green but I liked it MORE. I'm pretty excited to be a part of this blog tour and Robyn has supplied me with some fantastic answers. Hope you enjoy, and I hope you like Ezra as much as I did!
WR: What inspired Ezra's story in Severed Heads, Broken Hearts?
Robyn Schneider: I wanted to write a story about growing up in the suburbs and how it feels to realize that you’re not going to become the person you’d always imagined. I struggled with how to do this until I realized that so many stories lead up to the tragedy and never begin in the aftermath. And then, I began in Ezra’s aftermath.
After Ezra's accident, he starts to appreciate life more and learns that not everything is as black and white as he once thought. How did you tap into his character? Did you do any research or speak to any trauma survivors?
Ezra has always been very easy to write. He popped into my head exactly as you read him on the page, this devastatingly broken boy who had miscalculated his destiny and mistakenly placed his faith in a girl as miserable and adrift as himself. I did a bit of research into trauma survivors and mental health, as I was a post-graduate student in medical ethics at the time, and wrote my masters thesis on medical narratives. I suppose some of that seeped into the story, but I never actively did research for Ezra’s character.
Are any of the characters, particularly Ezra and Cassidy, based on any real life people you know?
Ezra’s inner monologue is very much my own. I like to joke that we have the same soul but different stories, although people are always surprised at how many pieces of the book are true, or based on real events. Severed Heads, Broken Hearts is a totally embellished and wildly unfaithful adaptation of eight years of my life condensed into eight month’s of someone else’s. And Cassidy- she’s a girl whom it’s never wise to be: a cautionary tale masquerading as a person. There are a lot of people I wrote Cassidy for, but none I wrote her about, if that makes sense?
Would you ever consider revisiting Ezra in the future, and maybe exploring his life during college?
I’m not sure we’re meant to know what happens to Ezra in the months between his senior Spring and the Winter when he decides to tell this story. I don’t think he’s a book character any longer. I think, in the end, he becomes a real person, and real people don’t have sequels.
Can you explain why the title was changed from The Beginning of Everything in the US to Severed Heads, Broken Hearts in the UK?
There was a bit of a disaster with people thinking the book was a horror novel, or dystopian, or supernatural, based on the title. The title is the punch line to a joke you haven’t heard yet, and it makes perfect sense once you’ve read the book, but for American audiences, it wasn’t working.
The US and UK covers are very different, as is often the case. Do you have a preference? If so, which is your personal favourite?
I really do like them both. The UK cover is how I pictured the book when I was writing it, when it still had that title, and I’ve been obsessed with Jonathan Grey, the designer, for about a decade. But the US cover has that terrifically quiet joke of the roller coaster, and that iconic font. It’s a toss up, honestly.
If you had to pick three songs that perfectly sum up Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, which would you choose and why?
Ezra’s song is “This Year” by the Mountain Goats. That has always been his song. Ever since the first page. But I think “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire is very much fitting for the novel itself. And “California” by Phantom Planet, which was the theme song to The OC, reminds me of where the book takes place.
Can you tell us anything about what you're writing next?
I’m developing a genre TV show with Rob Tapert, and writing another novel for teens.
Official site: robynschneider.com