For our inaugural YA Fiction Book Box, we tapped Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. We sat down with Beth to discuss writing, superpowers, her latest release, A World Without You and more.
PAGEHABIT: Hi Beth! Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
BETH REVIS: I’ve always wanted to be a writer; I remember writing a short story in first grade that was hung up on the teacher’s wall and feeling like it was destiny! Maybe it’s because I’m from the south, where nothing is ever fact, just a tale to expound upon, but fiction has been my first and truest love for as long as I can remember.
PAGEHABIT: What inspired you to write A World Without You?
BETH REVIS: I never know where an idea starts. It just sort of forms in my head, slowly bubbling to the surface. And then one day, it’s there. Characters and plot and story, and I just have to peel back the layers as I write to discover it all.
But I think, subconsciously at least, this story started with my desire to change the past. My brother struggled with mental illness growing up, and as a kid, I know I didn’t understand and didn’t handle it as well as I should have. Our relationship faltered. And then, one day, it was too late. So I wanted to change the past, at least fictionally, and wrote a story about time travel.
As I wrote, however, the story shifted. I found out I was pregnant while I was still drafting and editing the novel, and this story about the past became a story about the future as well. Regrets turned to hope. The end result is a book that I think blends what’s real and not, what happened and didn’t, what could be and what will never be.
PAGEHABIT: That’s amazing. Is there a novel that has really affected your life?
BETH REVIS: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis changed my life. I read that novel when I was a little girl in my local library, hiding under the stairs that led to the children’s section. I’d read it before, but there was something about that moment when I realized that Aslan was a lion in a story, but also represented something more. That revelation that books where more than paper and ink and could have deeper meanings really impacted me and made me look at literature in a new way.
PAGEHABIT: Now this is a controversial question — in your opinion, has there ever been a movie that is better than the book?
BETH REVIS: That is such a difficult question because it’s so, so rare. But I’m going to go with Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, in part because even he himself felt the movie added to the story in ways the book didn’t.
PAGEHABIT: If you were hosting a dinner party, which three authors would you invite and why?
BETH REVIS: JK Rowling, so she can tell me all about Hogwarts and make my fan fic dreams come true, Mary Shelley so we can talk about how useless Percy was and how cool it was that she invented horror writing in her spare time, and Oscar Wilde (no explanation needed).
PAGEHABIT: In A World Without You, Bo has the power of time-travel. What would your power be?
BETH REVIS: I don’t really want the power to travel through time, but I’d love the power to pause time. I just want to take a nap and read books without getting behind on all my work!
PAGEHABIT: Haha! YES! Naps are the best. If you could visit one fictional world, which would you chose?
BETH REVIS: Hogwarts, after Voldemort’s fall. I don’t want to fight in the battles, I don’t want live in peril. I just want to cast cool spells and hang out with Hagrid and play quidditch.
PAGEHABIT: We can totally get behind that. Do you have any advice for young writers?
BETH REVIS: When given the choice between staying inside and writing or doing something new, do the new thing. The best stories come from a life lived well, so constantly push yourself to explore and discover and meet new people.
PAGEHABIT: What was the thought process behind curating your Literary YA Box?
BETH REVIS: I wanted to tap into the key values of the book. I feel like each book has a beating heart, and that’s what I wanted to reach. A World Without You is about time travel and death and life and reality and mental health and family and friendship, but the beating heart lies in the connections we all have to each other. It’s what the strings on the book cover represent, and it was a key part in developing the contents of the box.
PAGEHABIT: As you know, we love snail mail here, so what is your favorite thing that you have received in the mail?
BETH REVIS: Fan mail! I always hope that people read and connect to my words, and hearing back from readers that they read my book is really just awe-inspiring.