In an exclusive interview with Robyn Schneider, Hypable talks to the author about The Beginning of Everything, being a pop culture nerd, and more.
The Beginning of Everything is a coming of age story, but it’s also so much more than that. Part love story, part fandom reference treasure hunt, part high school documentary, it delves into the lives of students as they rise and fall between the social classes and wade through the politics of the cafeteria. Read our full review.
Tell us five interesting things about yourself.
1. I am extraordinarily bad at using scissors.
2. I nearly died on Tower of Terror when my necklace charm flew up into my (wide open and screaming) mouth on the drop.
3. I have a masters degree in bioethics.
4. I lived in London for a year after college.
5. I construct elaborate backstories about my kitchen appliances on twitter (currently my coffee pot is being housebroken and my stove thinks he’s ridiculously good looking).
Why did you feel you needed to tell this story? Do you know someone who went through a similar accident?
I knew that I needed to write a story about growing up in the suburbs and how it feels to realize that you’re not going to become the person you’d always imagined. I struggled with how to do this until a few years ago, when something terrible happened to a friend of mine while we were on spring break. Our friendship never quite recovered from his personal tragedy, and I eventually realized that so many stories lead up to the disaster and never begin in the aftermath.
As a female author, what made you decide to write in a male’s perspective? Was it difficult?
People are always surprised, when they meet me, that I wrote a book from a boy’s perspective, but the truth is, I wrote a book that was so emotionally autobiographical that I had to force myself to fictionalize it somehow. I was never a star athlete, but I know what it’s like to question the ideas everyone else seems to have about your future. I was never the victim of a hit and run accident, but I know what it’s like when your friends disappoint you. And I never had a mysterious girl break my heart, but I’ve been that girl, and it made me realize just how wrong I was when I wrote about it from the perspective of the lovelorn boy. So I suppose writing from the male perspective isn’t any more difficult than writing from the female perspective. We’re all just stories in the end, and stories don’t have genders.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What’s been the best compliment?
I think both the toughest criticism and the best compliments have been the comparisons of my book to John Green’s books. I look up to John immensely, and I doubt I’d be the person I am today without his books and his videos. I was eighteen when Looking For Alaska was published, and I still have the battered first edition hardcover on my shelf.
Who are your biggest influences as an author?
F. Scott Fitzgerald. J.D. Salinger. Donna Tartt. I like classics. It’s fascinating to read books written about the hopes and fears and longings of previous generations and compare them to the concerns of my own generation. I’m also hopelessly indebted to a number of television writers, such as Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, and Josh Schwartz, the creator of The OC.
Are you more like Ezra or Cassidy?
Ezra’s inner monologue is very much my own. I like to joke that we have the same soul but different stories. I’m always disappointed when people see Cassidy in me, as she’s a girl whom it’s never wise to be: a cautionary tale masquerading as a person.
What is easier to write, the first line or the last line?
It took me five years to write the correct version of this book. When I finally stumbled upon the first line, the rest of the chapter spilled out in one sitting. The last line just happened, in a blur. I looked up and suddenly the book was over.
What is one YA novel you wish you had when you were a teen?
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart. At fifteen, that book would have made me less afraid to be outspoken and smart and bookish and feminist.
There are a lot of pop-culture references in this book. Are these all things you’re a fan of? (Also, for personal reasons, I need to know if the Red Vines reference was a Team StarKid reference, or if it was just an arbitrary line.)
Yes, definitely. I’m such a pop culture nerd. And a literature geek. And a trivia enthusiast. My youtube videos can attest to this. (And you’re right, it was a Team StarKid reference. Well spotted. 50 points to Gryffindor.)
What’s your next project?
There’s another novel, of course. I studied medicine in grad school, so it has a medical aspect to it, but is still a coming of age story. I’m also working on a genre TV show. It’s an original concept; I wrote the pilot earlier this summer. It’s still in the early stages and nothing is definite, but everyone involved is ridiculously awesome.
‘The Beginning of Everything’ by Robyn Schneider
You can find Robyn Schneider on her website, on Twitter, on Tumblr, and on YouTube. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider released on August 27, 2013. Add it to your Goodreads list and order it on Amazon!