Earlier this month, I shared the captivating book You & Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne. I got the chance to interview author Ms. Bourne on her post-apocalyptic young adult novel, check out our conversation below!
Hi Brianna, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. First, congratulations on your book being published! Can you tell me the inspiration behind the novel?
Thank you so much, and thank you for reading! I love your blog!
The very first spark came from my own high school experience, actually. I could sense that there were times I could tell I’d missed out on becoming friends with a seriously magnetic, interesting person, simply because I was quiet—if I was in a group of people, it was always easier to let other people talk. I was interesting too (I hoped!); I just needed to be given an opportunity to talk to them one on one. There were also times when I wanted to approach someone who, on the surface, seemed very different to me, but invisible social barriers kept us apart.
I think the book eventually grew from those feelings: I wanted to see what would happen when two people who would have never had the guts to talk to each other were stranded together, just the two of them, in a high-stakes situation that forces them to get to know each other quickly and intensely.
You & Me at the End of the World takes its time to build two specific things: the romance between Hannah and Leo and the danger of their situation. Was it hard to get that pacing exactly right?
Oh, wow, yes—it was a monumental task trying to get the pacing and balance right. There was definitely a moment after I’d finished the first draft where I panicked a little—I couldn’t decide which facet of the book, romance or suspense, should take center stage; which thread to pull out and which to tuck into the background. (The answer was that they had to take turns, but carefully.)
As I alternated between nudging the romance plot along and nudging the where-did-everybody-go plot along, I had to be careful about sounding like I was hitting the same two notes. Each time it had to unfold a little more, get a little more tense. It’s always two steps forward, one step back, in terms of what’s going on inside Hannah and Leo, this journey from who they are at the beginning of the book to who they are at the end. Just like real life, I think!
Houston, Texas is almost a third character in the book. It looms over both Hannah and Leo and you capture just how eerie it is to be stuck in an empty metropolis. Any particular reason you chose Houston?
It’s so satisfying to hear that the eeriness really came through for you as you read—I loved exploring the surreal vibe of the empty city in my head and making sure it transferred to the page!
The quick answer is probably that I set the book in Houston simply because that’s where I went to high school, but it ended up working so well. Houston is such a vibrant, diverse, and noisy city, and it’s also geographically huge, so seeing it empty and quiet is more of a gut-punch than if I’d set the book in a small, rural town. And Hannah and Leo are city kids, so they’re doubly thrown off kilter by the emptiness.
Very early on in the process, I had this mental image stuck in my head of a girl walking down the middle of I-10, which at it’s widest point is 26 lanes across. I never mentioned it to my cover designer, though, so when I saw the striking image of Hannah and Leo on an empty road on the cover, it took my breath away.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share?
I’m working on the second book of my deal with Scholastic now! It’s not a sequel, because You & Me at the End of the World is standalone novel—but this new project is also Contemporary YA with a speculative twist and a strong romantic element. It should feel very much like a sister book, and I’m having so much fun getting to know my two new characters.
I have so many stories cooking in my head, and I can’t wait to share them with readers. Thank you so much for chatting with me!
About the Author
Brianna Bourne is author of You & Me at the End of the World. When she’s not writing, she works as a stage manager for ballet companies around the world. Originally from Texas, Brianna grew up in Indonesia and Egypt and now lives in England with her rock musician husband and their two daughters. You can find out more about her on Twitter at @briannabourneYA.