Five years ago, Adam Silvera started a notebook that turned into They Both Die At The End. The release date—September 5, 2017—is coincidentally the same day in which Mateo Torres and Rufus Emeterio receive their respective Death-Cast calls, with notification that within twenty-four hours they will die.
Well, it is. But it’s also incredibly hopeful. These two boys still have one day to live. Once they find each other, Mateo and Rufus turn out to be a perfect foil for each other’s short comings, allowing each of them to … well, you are simply going to have to pick up this book and read it in order to find out for yourself.
If you’re familiar with Silvera’s work, you’ll know this sort of sweet, funny devastation isn’t a one-off effort.
More Happy Than Not burst onto the scene in May, 2015 and hit the New York Times Bestseller List the next month. His ambitious debut featured Aaron Soto, a kid who lives in projects in the Bronx who, in struggling with his attraction to other boys, seeks out the Leteo Institute in order to wipe his mind and start again. It’s the greatest of all do-overs and destined to fail. His sophomore effort, History Is All You Left Me, tells the story of Griffin Jennings who is grieving the loss of his love and ex-boyfriend, Theo McIntyre, while his OCD gets progressively worse.
Silvera writes to break our collective hearts. As an own voices author writing queer and latino boys from New York, he’s as authentic as authors get. But there is something in this third novel that’s a little bit different. In the author’s note in my ARC, Silvera writes about how the prior two books stemmed from personal experience but this one came from his own inexperience and in finding the courage to explore that.
I recently got the chance to chat with Adam Silvera about his newest book.
Alex de Morra: In each of these three novels, the hero’s sexual identity is tied heavily to the story arc. In More Happy Than Not, Aaron wants to erase that part of himself and ends up erasing more than that. In History Is All You Left Me, both Theo’s death and Griffin’s queerness is immutable, as is Griffin’s sense of them as a couple. In They Both Die At The End, Mateo’s identity and his evolution towards living are slowly revealed as he lives more and more of his ‘lifetime in a day.’ Will you talk about that?
Adam Silvera: Since History was the third book I wrote, I was aching to write a narrator whose sexuality wasn’t sheltered or scary. Griffin is just happily gay. And Mateo is relatable because I didn’t come out until I was 19, but had I known that I was going to die at 18, I would’ve come to grips with it on that day. No doubt. I would kiss a guy and say I love you and embrace myself in full force. Not instantly, of course, it would be gradual, but it’s a finish line that would be important for me to cross.
AdM: It’s interesting that you mention History was actually the third book you wrote even though it was the second one published. What led to swapping History with They Both Die?
AS: I just knew this book needed more time and wasn’t worth presenting to any editor just yet, and I’ve spent a total of five years on this book from initial thought to final manuscript. The world and characters have grown so much.
AdM: In both Happy and They Both Die, the worlds are built off present day New York but in each case, these are changed due to the presence of a new technology corporation: Leteo Institute in Happy and Death-Cast in They Both Die. But while a name for those who went through the Leteo procedure didn’t feature, there is a name for those who have gotten the call from Death-Cast: Decker. It struck me that when these types of neologisms come up— Cylons, Replicants, Muggles, Hobbits—they are no longer considered human by some even while their humanity is at the core of the story. What does the term Decker mean?
AS: The term Decker is a sort of slang for someone whose fate is “on the deck.” And vocabulary evolving is a natural part of the world changing. The distinctions for deckers felt urgent and heartbreaking. It’s literally a word that someone can personally identify as for less than a day.
AdM: You have a gift for writing friends that are both intensely loving and fiercely, painfully honest. Will you talk about creating these characters?
AS: I love when my friends keep it real. When we confront each other and say uncomfortable things, even if it stirs some conflict. We’re most honest with the people we love the most because we want the best for them.
AdM: Speaking of friends…the book ones count, too! I’m so excited to see a reprisal of The Scorpius Hawthorne books. It’s also interesting to see them pop-up even though the speculative worlds of Happy and They Both Die are different ones. I had even heard a rumor you had plans to put them in History. Should we keep our eyes out for them in future books?
AS: I’m so happy this Easter egg made its way back in too! And yes, the character Dhonielle in History got cut because I failed to give her the depth she needed to read as a convincing character. But Scorpius Hawthorne was invented as a fun play on Harry Potter and if I write more grounded speculative novels, I think I’ll continue to sneak in this fake saga about the demonic boy wizard. Even if it’s a one-liner.
AdM: If we had forever to talk, I’m sure I could come up with a million questions. Fortunately for us, you’ve got to get back to writing your next effort. For now, though, what question are you hoping someone asks you about this book? And what’s your answer?
AS: I’d love for someone to ask me if they actually die at the end and I’ll tell them to read and find out. 🙂
A very special thank you to Adam Silvera for joining us today. If you want to follow his writing exploits, please follow him on twitter at @AdamSilvera as he’s likely to give a heads up on touring, writing sprints, and sneak peeks of his writing. Oh, and buy this book. All of his books. And tissues. Trust me. You’ll need tissues.
Before you go…we also have an opportunity for you to win it below! Enter now and win an ARC of this gorgeous and devastating book.
Alex claims to read more than any normal, healthy adult should though the rest of the Binge on Books team would beg to differ. You can read all of his reviews here.
Connect with Alex on Twitter: @Alex_deMorra