2021 Debut Author Interview: Brianna Bourne!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and to spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun for years to come! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2021 debuts and chat with them about their writing process and what it's like to be a new author. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats, and more!

At the end of 2020, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Brianna Bourne and her novel YOU AND ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD, and we have been interested in it ever since! We are so excited to have Brianna on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

When she's not writing, Brianna Bourne works as a stage manager for ballet companies around the world. Originally from Texas, she grew up in Indonesia and Egypt and now lives in England with her husband and their two daughters.

Keep up with Brianna: Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?

Brianna: Thank you so much, and thanks for having me on your blog! It feels absolutely incredible to be a debut author. After years of slog and self-doubt, it feels unreal to be at this stage. Of course, navigating a debut year comes with a steep learning curve, but I’m loving the work!

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?

Brianna: That’s a tricky one—every part of the writing process is so different, from early daydreams to plotting to drafting to editing. I do like the daydreaming stage, when my ambitions for a book are totally unrealistic but I haven’t realized that yet, but I think I love editing the most. It’s so fun when my editor starts to feed back on a project, and so satisfying to finally fix problems that initially had me stumped. The raw drafting stage is definitely the hardest for me, because I want to just sit in a chapter and fine-tune it for weeks until it’s perfect. I have to constantly remind myself that perfection is unattainable and that I need to concentrate on writing forward.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for YOU AND ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD?

Brianna: My favorite stories always zoom in tightly on two characters as they radically alter each others’ lives, and I knew I wanted YOU & ME to do the same. I was also obsessed with an image I had in my head of a girl walking barefoot down an empty 12-lane highway. I wanted to explore what it would be like if all the things my two main characters knew—school, parents, friends—were ripped away, leaving them the last two people in an empty city. What impact would going through something so unusual and traumatic have on them as a pair? Would they panic? Or would they find the freedom to become who they actually wanted to be all along? Of course, this was all fascinating and was going to be really groundbreaking, and then… it became our reality (thanks, Covid.) I wrote YOU & ME long before the pandemic, when I didn’t know that empty streets were something we’d be seeing every day. But I think Hannah & Leo’s struggles with isolation will resonate even more deeply now that we’ve had a taste, and the situation they’re in is definitely different enough that the book will still feel like escapism. Maybe just the kind of escapism we need right now.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?

Brianna: Hannah was definitely the more difficult character to write. Leo is so vivid and energetic, and it was obvious to me how he’d react to the situations they got into. I expected Hannah to be easier because she’s a bit more like me, but her complexity was much trickier to wrangle onto the page.

The Book Bratz: Are there any other books or authors who give you inspiration for your own writing?

Brianna: I love reading high-concept contemporary: books that are grounded in our present day world but that thread in one impossible difference. Like Mia’s ability to roam outside of her injured body in Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY, or the concept of being told it’s your last day in Adam Silvera’s THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END. I love it when authors use hooks like that to ask big questions about life and death, so those types of books have definitely inspired my writing. As a teenager, I also borrowed heavily from my grandma’s romance novel collection, so that’s probably why I like to have lots of steamy romantic tension in my novels!

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from YOU AND ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD? 

Brianna: My greatest hope is that readers will take chances on friendships (or more) with people they initially thought they wouldn’t click with. You can’t grow if you never leave your comfort zone!

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of YOU AND ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?

Brianna: I don’t currently have plans to write a sequel for Hannah and Leo, but I do have an idea on the horizon that would return to their world and explore the speculative element from a different angle with two new characters. The novel I’m working on right now, which is set to come out from Scholastic in 2022, is definitely in the same vein as YOU & ME—it also features a swoony, slow-burn romance, an atmospheric setting, and a supernatural/speculative twist. I’ll let you know more about it once I’m allowed to share! In the meantime, I hope you love YOU & ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD when it hits shelves July 20th, and thank you so much for having me on your blog!

Title: You and Me at the End of the World
Author: Brianna Bourne
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: July 20th, 2021

Summary: Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be hottest boy ever (and not just because he's the only one left), but he's also too charming, too selfish, and too devastating for his own good, let alone Hannah's. Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn't have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah's got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time. Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation, but while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it's not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don't figure out what's going on, they might just be torn apart forever.

Thank you so much to Brianna for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about YOU AND ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD and can't wait for it to be out in the world on July 20th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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