In a recent interview, YA author David Levithan talks Another Day, the companion novel of his 2013 novel Every Day, which basically tells the story from Rhiannon’s point of view. He also talks about the challenges and excitement of writing LGBTQ characters.
On retelling the story from a different perspective:
I started rewriting the first chapter of Every Day from Rhiannon’s point of view as possible bonus material for the original book — but within a couple of pages, I knew it was not in fact bonus material, but a new novel.
With Every Day, I had wanted to explore what it would be like to have an identity that wasn’t defined by a body, and also what it would be like to love someone who changed every day. I felt that I had answered the first question well, but couldn’t really explore the second question fully until I was seeing the story through Rhiannon’s eyes. So I decided to rewrite it through her eyes.
On the challenges of writing Another Day:
I think it’s safe to say that, if I had known I was going to write this book, I would have given myself a little more room in the first one — but if that’s the challenge, it was an interesting one to have.
Sometimes I’d be thrown off by a throwaway line in Every Day that I had to somehow account for in Another Day. And other times it was just interesting to be so enmeshed in Rhiannon’s point of view that I forgot everything else. One of the reasons I knew I wanted to write the book was because when I rewrote the first chapter, I was seeing Justin there, not A underneath.
On writing Rhiannon’s experience with gender identity:
I think our society is on a learning curve about gender, and what defines gender. A is, by the nature of A’s experience, much more open, seeing everything at the human level. Rhiannon, like most of us, is further back on the learning curve, and has to suddenly question her own beliefs and the way she looks at the world, which is an important thing for individuals and societies to do in order to grow to be as just and kind as they should be.
On how LGBTQ changes throughout the years have affected his writing:
What I love about this question is that it is only a period of a dozen years that we’re talking about — but things have changed drastically. And the reason they’ve changed drastically is that something that was abstract suddenly became human to a lot of people — the more our stories were told, the more our friends and family and neighbors saw who we are, the more we were able to dismantle prejudices and get to the truth.
We still have plenty of distance to travel, especially in terms of trans rights. But I’ve certainly been emboldened by the progress, and by the proof that stories to matter, because empathy is everything.
On writing LGBTQ characters and themes for the YA audience:
I take care with all of my characters and all of my stories, as any good writer should. I don’t think I take any particularly different approach to write about LGBTQ+ experiences. Being gay myself, it’s certainly coming as much from the interior as it is from observation. Hopefully, if I’m true to myself, the books have an element of truth to them, too. And that tends to be what resonates.
You can also read an excerpt of Chapter 2 of Another Day here or clicking on the image below.