Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli share what inspired Here's to Us and books they love
Ben and Arthur are about to reunite.
In Here's to Us (out Dec. 28), Arthur unexpectedly returns to New York City after his freshmen year at college to work with a queer director, while Ben is working on his fantasy novel and pursuing his creative writing degree. The new book, by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, is the sequel to What If It's Us and picks up two years after the book, but a few months after the first novel's epilogue.
"This is their do over," Albertalli shares. Arthur is getting a second chance in Big Apple after having not gotten it right professionally by working at a law firm. Personally, the pair ended the first book deciding to be friends, so their reuniting could also mean a second chance at love.
We spoke to the Here's To Us authors about the stories they love and the ones that inspire them.
Rom-coms that inspired Here's to Us
Becky Albertalli: Jim and Pam, but specifically Jim, Pam and the subplot with Karen. Jim and Pam are the OTP and I absolutely would like to hate Karen very much, but then you fall in love with her a little bit even though you're still rooting for Jim and Pam. For a minute you're not quite sure how it's gonna play out and I feel like more than anything for this book that was the dynamic we were going for.
LGBTQ artist you love
Silvera: Justin Tranter. They're a really awesome queer songwriter and they're behind a lot of big pop hits.
Albertalli: I'm the shameless Casey McQuiston fan. They write a little older than YA, but I love One Last Stop, obviously Red Royal and Blue, and their YA coming out next year.
Story you love about friendship
Silvera: Yelllowjackets is my new obsession. It definitely has different levels of friendship and watching these girls come together to survive in the wilderness — I've been moved by this journey and it's also such an addictive show.
Albertalli: It's exactly what you would expect me as a person to be obsessed, but Booksmart. It's like created specifically to cater to my exact interests and desires.
Underrated YA story you love
Albertalli: Ben Philippe. The one that comes to mind for me is Charming As A Verb. Ben is one of the most genuinely funny authors writing YA, writing anything right now.
Silvera: I say The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch. It's a really beautiful and funny rom-com that's so authentic and earnest. I love it so much. I know Robbie has a new book coming next year that is like a gay Legally Blonde.
LGBTQ authors that excite you
Albertalli: Leah Johnson, Malinda Lo and Sophie Gonzales. I just finished Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve. It's a realistic contemporary coming-of-age with romantic elements.
Silvera: Julian Winters, Aiden Thomas, Mark Oshiro, and Nic Stone.
Book that always makes you laugh
Albertalli: Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner, who is known for writing these absolutely gut-wrenching tearjerkers. Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee has some really hard moments in it, but it's one of those books I had to keep putting down to wipe the tears from my eyes and jump back in because it's so funny.
Silvera: You by Caroline Kepnes. Joe Goldberg is the funniest narrator. He's not supposed to be, but he's constantly saying thinking the thing you can't say. He's never saying things out loud to anybody because he's just a total psychopath, but I listen to those audio books and I'm constantly bursting into laughter in the middle of the street or wherever I am.
New York City–set story you love
Silvera: I've recently started The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin, which is a fantasy reimagined New York. I love seeing New York from other people's perspectives and what ends up staying when you're building the magical world around it and what evolves because of the magic, and I think this book is doing it really beautifully.
Albertalli: When Harry Met Sally is such a New York kind of story to me and it's such just into the DNA of the What's If It's Us duology.
YA stories that inspire you
Albertalli: This one really inspires me. It's hard to almost draw a line between it and my work, but Angie Thomas' work. In particular I'm thinking about Concrete Rose. She is able to just absolutely perfectly capture these voices and my theory is that if Angie wanted to, she could write an entire book with zero dialogue tags and you would know who's speaking.
Silvera: First thing that comes to mind is The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. It speaks so much to the complexities of this country, the endurance of love, the possibilities of meeting people and making lifelong friends or meeting the love of your life on a day that feels doomed. It's a story that stayed with me since its publication in 2016.
Book that made you feel seen
Silvera: This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves, which is about a queer Latino. I really connected with that voice instantly. It's different — I'm Puerto Rican and the character is Mexican, but I recognize so much of myself within that character and that was really refreshing, especially as I'm wanting to deepen my intersections between my heritage and my queerness. I really appreciated that one. [Editor's note: This Is Why They Hate Us will be released in 2022.]
Albertalli: I just finished reading The Nobleman's Guide To Scandal And Shipwrecks, which is the last book in Mackenzi Lee's Montague Siblings trilogy. The main character of that book is like reading my inner monologue written down. It's a full of fear, anxiety and chaos brain. I felt very seen by this noble man.
One thing you love about writing YA novels
Silvera: I love getting to reimagine my life as an out queer kid instead of a closeted one, and it's allowed me to regained my childhood a little bit. To see what my life could have been like and by writing novels I do feel like I'm living within it, so it really has been a gift to myself.
First thing you did after you finished this book
Albertalli: Definitely hanging out with my kids. We got a puppy, so you know back to day-to-day life."
Fictional best friend you adore
Silvera: Dylan. Writing that character was so fun for both of us. It was always such a treat whenever Dylan appeared in a chapter because you know the writing was going to be smoother because he draws out all of our best and funniest work. He's a character that people want to see an entire novel around, but I can't imagine being in that character's headspace for 400 pages. He has to be the best friend character.
Albertalli: What you're saying is he needs to be pretty closely regulated and I completely agree. Dylan was based on our friend David [Arnold], but the character is a much more extreme version of David who is not nearly as bombastic. One of my favorite best friend characters is Alan in David's book The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, who is basically a bombastic extreme version of Adam written from David's point of view.