What kind of question would you like answered?

Q: Towards the end of the book, Colin thinks about how he wants “to be as special as everyone had always told him he was...” Did you ever have a similar experience?

I think most people have had that experience, whether it’s about academic performance or baseball or writing or cheerleading or whatever.

I think in some ways that’s what adolescence is—the emerging knowledge that you are not alone, both in exciting and in disappointing ways.

At some point in adolescence, you realize that you are not the center of the universe, which is a bummer of a thing to discover. But it’s only through this discovery that you can build the kind of deep and lasting and sustaining relationships with peers that are so central to adulthood.

That’s what I wanted to write about.

Q: Why did you choose to write the parts in the cave as solely dialogue with no description?

I’ve read a lot of stories that used similar constructions to get across an idea of physical remove or sensory deprivation (see Kiss of the Spider Woman, for instance), and I think it’s a nice way of capturing that feeling.

To be honest, I wrote those scenes in a cave with absolutely no light because I knew it would be truly impossible to film in a Hollywood kind of way.

I liked the idea that even in this world supersaturated with images, where readers have a huge catalog of images* in their memories, there could still be things that cannot be properly pictured except via written description.

* Like, I realize this is on some level obvious, but until about 150 years ago, if you said “The Great Pyramids in Egypt,” the image of the Great Pyramids in Egypt did not pop into most people’s minds, because most people had never seen an image of any such pyramid. So writing had a completely different set of responsibilities from the responsibilities it has now, which is one of the reasons that when we read books from before, say, 1850, we often proclaim them boring.

Q: Are you aware that the quotation, “What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” has been quoted more than ten thousand times on twitter?

Yes, I am aware. For the record, I think there are many meanings to a life that is not lived in pursuit of the remarkable. Life is a series of very small gestures and that if you ignore those little gestures in pursuit of some ill-thought-out vision of greatness, you stand a fair chance of ending up really unhappy and also historically unhelpful regardless of whether you meet your constructed definition of remarkability. But, I mean, Colin does say that in the novel. I do wish twitter would attribute the quote to him and not to me, though. :)