NOT NOW, NOT EVER, by Lily Anderson

I first met Lily Anderson at book event with Anna-Marie McLemore, one of my favorite YA authors. Like Anna-Marie, Lily Anderson constructs stories that many readers can see themselves in, and her newest book, NOT NOW, NOT EVER explores what it means to redefine yourself within the unfamiliar.


1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

In addition to being an author, you are also a school librarian. What do you love most about being an author, and what do you love most about being a librarian? 

My favorite part of both is getting to share my love of literature with new people. Finding a book that perfectly speaks to someone is such an incredible feeling and one that I’m blessed to experience often. As a librarian, I spend a lot of my day matching books to people. Books that weren’t my speed can click so perfectly with someone else. I love being able to say, “Oh, if you liked [blank], then I have the perfect follow up read!” As an author, however, I put my books into the world with very little control as to who gets them, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when someone tells me that they loved my story.

I love your stories too, especially how NOT NOW, NOT EVER references The Importance of Being Earnest. How did Elliot’s story come to be, and in what ways, if any, did she surprise you?

Elliot’s story started with Elliot. I knew that I wanted to write a girl like her–someone tough and sporty, basically the total opposite of me–long before I had a plot for her. Having grown up near an Air Force Base, I wanted to write about a girl who has always known that she’s going to enlist after high school and how that effects her relationships with people.

After I wrote my debut novel, THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU, my editor asked for another retelling set around the Messina Academy. I was hesitant to do another retelling set at the same school because I didn’t want the Mess to seem like a Twilight Zone episode where each graduating class gets stuck living the plot of a famous play every year (although, hm, plot bunny?), so Elliot’s story starts with her deciding to use her knowledge of The Importance of Being Earnest to her advantage.

The most surprising thing about the story was how quickly Elliot started connecting with people. I’ve never written a fish out of water story before and I thought Elliot might be more reserved in getting to know people, but she was so game to put on her fake identity and forge these real, deep friendships.

It’s interesting how that ends up defining her too. Your book, THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU contains a lot of pop culture references, and I love the lists you include on your website of recommended books, comic books, and movies. What is your favorite book, comic book, and movie, and why? 

Oh, goodness. Favorites are hard, but I’ll give you what I love most today.

Book: Jenny Lawson’s LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED. It’s a memoir, but it’s also hilarious. Before I read it, I’d never considered being open about how funny my mental illness can be, the ridiculous scrapes I’ve been in because my anxiety got the better of me. When I run out of spoons, I listen to the audiobooks of both of Jenny Lawson’s memoirs to remind myself that I’m not alone.

Comic book: Deadpool, preferably from the Duggan-Posehn run. My love of Deadpool is pretty well documented (I literally have a Mrs Deadpool car license plate). I’ve always been a sucker for meta humor. It rewards paying attention. But more than the goofs and blowing things up and guest appearances from Ben Franklin, I love Deadpool’s tragedy. He doesn’t relish his extended adolescence. He’s just a lonely screw up, more or less stuck outside of society, but he really does consistently try his best.

Movie: The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. It’s ridiculous and soapy, but there’s something about it that just sucks me in every time.

Excellent choices. What are some of your current projects?

Right now, I’m in the midst of drafting my first drama. All I can tell you about it is that I write a lot slower when I’m not writing jokes.

Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound


Buy: Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound