Author Interview: You and Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne
You and Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne released last week and we are thrilled to bring you an interview with the author. Plus I have good news, there is still time to submit for the preorder incentive which includes a signed bookplate, during these first few weeks of sale too! Check out all the details here!
You and Me at the End of the Worldby Brianna Bourne
Published by: Scholastic Press
on July 20, 2021
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult
This is no ordinary apocalypse...
Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be hottest boy ever (and not just because he's the only one left), but he's also too charming, too selfish, and too devastating for his own good, let alone Hannah's.
Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn't have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah's got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.
Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation, but while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it's not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don't figure out what's going on, they might just be torn apart forever.
Author Interview: Brianna Bourne
When writing about the possible end of the world, where did some of your inspiration come from? And how does that hit differently now that the book is being released during an epic worldwide pandemic?
I knew very early on that my “end of the world” wouldn’t look like what you see in zombie movies, or in those apocalypse movies where the main character hijacks an airplane and leaps across earthquake-huge gaps to get to a bunker.
One day they’re living their normal lives, and the next day they wake up a few blocks away from each other in the middle of downtown Houston and everyone else is just gone.
There wasn’t really a tangible piece of inspiration, like a movie or book, that I can point to—as far as I know this setting/situation hasn’t been done before! I just spent a lot of time trying to climb into that headspace, trying to figure out how a person might feel in that situation. What would they see and hear? What would they try to do to cope?
Just a few months after I signed my deal with my publisher, the pandemic came along and made empty streets and isolation a reality for everyone. At first I was really worried; I’d wanted the setting to feel alien and thought-provoking, and suddenly we were all experiencing that stillness and loneliness every day.
But I hope that seeing Hannah and Leo confront their isolation will resonate with readers, and feel almost therapeutic. They’ve had huge parts of their lives suddenly stripped away, just like all of us have had in the past year. What do they lean on? How do they survive, emotionally? Seeing Hannah and Leo work through all of that might help readers work through those things within themselves, and come out the other side feeling like they’ve processed some trauma.
But that’s just one layer of the book—it’s really more about the slow-burn relationship between Hannah and Leo. There’s loads of juicy romantic tension, and even a fresh take on the “there’s only one bed” trope!
What would YOU do if you were the only person around in your hometown for the day?
Hannah hides out at home, but I’d probably do some of the zany stuff that Leo does, like break into the most expensive hotel in town and swim in their rooftop pool! I would also totally go to the nearest amusement park and see if I could crank up the rides. The scene where Hannah and Leo visit an abandoned carnival was one of my favorite scenes to write.
How much of Hannah’s life is a reflection of your life?
Hannah and I share a few core personality traits—we’re both worriers and perfectionists—but beyond that she is definitely her own person with her own journey of self-discovery. Somewhere between the first and second draft I decided to make her an elite ballerina (I am definitely not an elite ballerina!). I did work for over ten years as a stage manager for world-renowned ballet companies, so I could draw from that up-close experience. Now it’s such a huge part of who she is I can’t imagine her any other way!
What books would you suggest to readers to read after the finish, You & Me at the End of the World?
Some newer releases I’ve absolutely loved have been The Hollow Inside by Brooke Lauren Davis, American Betiya by Anuradha Rajurkar, Where it All Lands by Jennie Wexler, and The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance.
If you enjoy all the feels in You & Me and you’re up for having one impossible element mixed in with your contemporary YA novels, then definitely check out A Million Junes by Emily Henry, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and More Than This by Patrick Ness. All completely spellbinding stories that get you really thinking “what if something about our world was just slightly different than what we know?”