Wednesday 25 September 2013

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Interview with David Levithan

Today, I have the immense pleasure of having YA author David Levithan stopping by my blog to talk about his latest release in the UK, Every Day! I know! I am so incredibly excited! Read on to see what he had to say, and then check out my review of Every Day.

David LevithanWhat inspired Every Day? How did you come up with the idea for the story?

I loved the notion of waking up in a different body and different life every morning. For A, this raised the question of who we are when our appearance is stripped away – if we were truly our inner selves and didn’t have to worry about being interpreted because of biology, who would we really become? And for Rhiannon, it’s the question of whether you can love someone who changes every day. I didn’t have the answer to either of these questions when I started, and in many ways I wrote the novel to see what my answer would be.

Not only is Every Day the most incredible book I’ve read, but it’s also the only book I’ve read that looks at quite a few LGBTQ characters/experiences in one story. Why did you decide to cover so many different LGBTQ aspects in Every Day?

Well thank you – your compliment is much, much appreciated. I couldn’t imagine exploring issues of identity without touching on issues of queerness and gender, and how that’s defined. Clearly, the aspect of LGBTQ that comes out the most is the idea of transcending gender – because A is, both in reality and in spirit, completely separate from definition of gender, which creates an ideal lens through which to view gender, and to call into question the resistance that some people have to the notion of being transgender.

Because of the unique life A has, I think Every Day is a brilliant way of helping people to understand genderfluid and transgendered people. Did you have to do any research on genderqueer issues/experiences? Or was the fact that this was A’s life and how A lived mean research was unnecessary?

Ever since I came to New York over fifteen years ago, I have been lucky to know so many genderfluid, trans, queer, and questioning/exploring people, and certainly writing the book made me think in depth about how gender defines me, and how much of being male I embrace, and how much I reject. I always think knowing people and talking to people is the best research, although certainly there are other YA novels that I’ve read (like Julie Anne Peters’ LUNA, Ellen Wittlinger’s PARROTFISH, and Cris Beam’s I AM J) that explored these issues in different ways.

Every Day by David LevithanBecause of all the different people whose bodies A has inhabited and the experiences had, A has a very unique look on the world. A accepts all because he’s been all, and to a certain degree, understands all. He simply can’t judge any more. This was such a powerful idea! Is this your own view, or did it occur naturally because of the life A leads?

I think A’s view comes from the life A leads. The truths I found through A were certainly consistent with my thoughts, but would never have been articulated as well if I hadn’t been seeing the world through A’s experience.

Every Day is thought provoking in so many ways, but the questions it brought up about love are the ones that really struck me. How far would you go for love? What would you sacrifice? What would you give? How hard would you work for it? How much hard work becomes too much? Meatloaf sings about doing “Anything For Love”, yet I think it’s only stories like A’s where we realise that “anything” isn’t always entirely feasible, or enough. Or that it takes two to make a relationship, and you’ve both got to want it for it to work.

Well, this is A and Rhiannon’s dilemma – we say love conquers all, but does it really? I can’t give you my thoughts here, because the book is really about where those thoughts go.

Can you tell us about your next novel, Two Boys Kissing?

It’s a completely different book, although similar in spirit. It’s central story is based on the true story of two boys who broke the world record for longest continuous kiss as a way of protesting inequality. And it’s narrated by the gay generation before mine looking at the gay generation of today.

Thank you, David, for such a fantastic interview! You absolutely must check out Every Day, it's absolutely fantastic!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful interview! I'm so excited to read Every Day and I'm very much looking forward to Two Boys Kissing as well! :)