On Friday 26th October I went to the Prince Charles Cinema in London to go to one of the talks with Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera on their new co-authored book: What If It’s Us. The event was run by Waterstones Piccadilly and Simon James Green was tasked with interviewing the two of them.
I went to the event having not read WIIU as it had only been released around a week prior so no libraries had it, and as my ticket included a paperback copy of the book I saw no point in buying it just so I could read it beforehand. Luckily, however, Becky and Adam were fully aware that this would be the case for many of the people attending, so made a disclaimer at the beginning saying that they would include no spoilers, or, at the very least, as few as possible and nothing too big. Thankfully nothing major was mentioned so I can happily read it unaware of what’s to come and I was more than impressed by how they could talk about the book for over an hour without continuously going back to reference parts in the story-line. I’ve also not read the book yet, so I’ll be giving feedback purely based on what was said during the event, and there’s no spoilers whatsoever.
For those of you who don’t know, What If It’s Us is a romantic comedy set in New York and follows Arthur and Ben. What Becky and Adam said was that they wanted their book to be recognised as a love story, not a specifically LGBTQ love story, so to normalise love stories of same sex couples. It’s also not a coming out story as, unlike in Becky’s books, both Arthur and Ben start the story out of the closet.
Becky and Adam talked about how they co-authored the novel, with each of them writing one character’s point of view: Adam writing Ben’s and Becky writing Arthur’s. What was funny was that they shared how they made Becky’s initials Ben’s and Adam’s Arthur’s, to try and fool their readers into thinking that it was the other way round, which worked, it turns out, and they’d had loyal readers of theirs ask about the character they hadn’t written, which seems understandable until you know that Arthur comes from Georgia (where Becky’s from) and Ben has lived in New York his whole life and from a poorer area (just like Adam). The two of them also talked about how WIIU has been a novel the two of them have been talking about for years, pretty much since when they first got in contact ages ago when they both published their first book on the same weekend, and they only managed to write it now because for once their schedules became free at the same time. This meant that both of them knew the general storyline and what was going to happen. They also touched on how when initially writing it they didn’t intend for it to be a romcom, it was just a story about Arthur and Ben, and it only became a romcom through writing it.
Adam and Becky also discussed how they included homophobia in the book and made reference to a scene on the metro where a stranger comments on Arthur and Ben’s relationship. Whilst New York is a diverse city, homophobia still exists, just as any other, and due to this the two authors wanted to have it in their book as without it, it would be an inaccurate portrayal of gay relationships. In addition, they discussed how interactions such as these shape a person and how that it was important in relation to Arthur’s character development.
As with most book events, there was a signing at the end, but, as I had to leave early, I wasn’t able to make it. Expectedly, I was gutted as Becky has kids and, as a result, finds it hard to find the time to go on book tours, especially ones which involve leaving the US. Luckily, however, I managed to meet her as I went to the toilet around 15 minutes before the event began, and when I came out of the cubicle to fetch tissue to dry my hands, there she was. I couldn’t believe my eyes to say the least! I talked to her for a couple minutes about how she had got off the plane only a few hours ago and her previous visits to London and just wow, I still can’t believe my luck. There was another fan who said hi before me and we had a bit of a fangirl moment outside, despite it being an event dedicated to her book, it still felt pretty surreal to just see her like that and to have a mundane chat that wasn’t across from a signing table.
I haven’t been to many author talks before, I must say, with the only one focused on a specific book being Holly Bourne’s Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes, but there was a different feel to this one, as instead of there just being one author to comment on the book, there were two. This meant that the interview (? Is that the right word?) was discussion based and they could bounce topics off one another and didn’t have to worry as much about missing topics out, especially considering it was part of their book tour.
I’m definitely glad I went to Becky and Adam’s What If It’s Us book discussion as I think it helped me have a deeper insight into the novel and really pumped me up to read it. If you’re someone who doesn’t tend to go these events and would like to, I can’t recommend them enough. Everyone is always so lovely, and whilst I didn’t have the time to at this one, you can have some really nice conversations with a range of different people who all share the common interest, with that being the book the event is based on. Also, if Becky and/or Adam are coming to your city, you should 100% buy a ticket to go! As you never know when the next opportunity will be.