Before Ardor, we let ourselves be defined by labels - the athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed. They said the asteroid would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we'd been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live.
We All Looked Up is officially published in the UK by Simon and Schuster this Thursday, March 26th, and is the next book on my TBR pile. It sounds pretty amazing, don't you agree? Although, if I'm honest, I've always had a fear of an asteroid heading for Earth... yikes!
I hope you guys check this book out, and thanks to Tommy for writing the below post for me. I love hearing about an author's inspirations!
by Tommy Wallach
Well this is super cheesy, but the most inspiring person in my life has always been my mom. She was the tenth female airline pilot in the United States, and raised me while working that very difficult job, without any help at home. She was never married—not for want of options (of course!), but because she’s one of the most fiercely independent people I know. All in all, a total badass. I aspire to be as hardworking, groundbreaking, and unafraid as she is.
More directly, this book was inspired by a few things. First, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, a beautiful film about two women and an incoming asteroid. Trier’s film is an allegory about depression, not a standard story, so I definitely took the conceit in another direction, but it was seeing Melancholia while I was thinking about trying to write YA that put the idea in my head a few months later. Thank God for Lars von Trier!
As for other novels, I’d say the work of Ursula K. Leguin has been particularly inspiring to me over the last few years. She isn’t labelled as YA, but only because her work is so freaking good and complex that it shakes off any label you try to put on it. Her Earthsea books are beautiful fantasias about civics and ethics, and her more mature works (The Lathe of Heaven, for example) take on gender and sexuality without didacticism or preachiness. I’d kill to write on that level.
And while I’m hitting all the various media, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention my favorite musician, Joanna Newsom. I write and perform music myself, but my songs have always been—for better or for worse—very on-the-nose. I sing about my emotions, and I name those emotions; I can’t help it. I’ve always been jealous of those people who write lyrics that I don’t even understand, and yet still feel moved by. It’s just not a skill I have when it comes to songwriting. But I do feel much more capable of accessing my poetic side in prose (ironically), and the work of Joanna Newsom has empowered me to do so. I used some of her lyrics as the epigraph for my book, because I wanted that spirit to inhabit the writing. If I reached her level even for a couple of sentences at a time, then I feel pretty damn good.
The final thing I’ll say about inspiration has involved the other folks I’ve met in the YA world. Even though my first novel isn’t even out yet, WALU sold over a year and a half ago, so I’ve had the pleasure to meet a lot of writers in the interim. What amazes about the people working in the YA world is just how damn much they write. They’re workhorses, keeping alive the dream of writing for a living, instead of just on the side. My second book was just accepted for publication (as of today, March 13th actually!), and part of what drove me to get that done so quickly (aside from my contractual obligation, of course…) was seeing so many other writers who work their asses off, day after day, week after week, year after year. (I’m looking at you, Andrew Smith, Adam Silvera, Victoria Schwab, etc.) There’s no excuse to slack when everyone around you is as slackless as a rope in a game of tug-of-war!
[Click to enlarge.]