“What If It’s Us” Release Event at Milton Public Library


Becky Albertalli (left) and Adam Silvera (right) discuss how they initiated the idea to incorporate the “missed connections” feature on Craigslist into their story.

Bella Angell, Editor-in-Chief

On Oct. 9, 2018, the novel “What If It’s Us” by young-adult (YA) authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera hit shelves all over the country. To celebrate its release, the authors went on tour with eight stops in the United States: Georgia, New York, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee and South Carolina.

The story follows two boys: Arthur, who is only in New York for the summer, and Ben, who is getting over an ex-boyfriend. Arthur believes that the universe throws them together at a post office on purpose in an awkwardly cute encounter when Ben is shipping his ex’s belongings back to him. However, they are both quickly separated, and readers follow them as they reconnect and see what the universe has planned for them.

The tour began at Milton Public Library in Milton, Georgia, and this is not a coincidence – Arthur’s hometown is Milton, Georgia. Surrounded by cookies, DIY buttons and books, the audience members looked on in admiration as Albertalli and Silvera talked about how the book came to be, and they followed with questions from audience members.

They began by talking about how they met. They sold their first books to the same agent in the same week. They read each other’s books and instantly became friends. In 2014, they started talking about the idea for “What If It’s Us.”

The authors described how they developed certain plot points and drew inspiration from real life events in writing their book. In the story, the characters mention using Craigslist “missed connections,” a link people use to find each other after briefly meeting or seeing them in public, and Albertalli shares that her roommate found a match on the website. “There was just something about it that I was like, ‘Ok, what if we turn this into like a book?’” said Silvera.

Additionally, they shared where they found the main characters’ names. “It’s my dad’s middle name,” said Albertalli, when asked about where she found the name Arthur. Silvera is unsure of where exactly he found the name Ben. “We knew that we also wanted to play with the names a little bit, like oh Adam is going to write the ‘B’ character name and Becky is going to write the ‘A’ character name, and we are like going to totally mess with everybody, and no one is going to be able to identify like who wrote who and… I think we failed pretty significantly,” said Silvera. Albertalli also said that she and Silvera had chosen these names for their characters and were sticking to them, even when they found out that “there is apparently a movie called ‘Ben and Arthur.’” She continued, “and it is … also a gay love story. And at the time our book title, our working book title, was ‘Arthur and Ben’ and the thing that ‘Ben and Arthur’ [referring to the movie] is known for is being terrible.”

They also discussed how they worked with the schedules and deadlines of their personal books; they waited until they had each finished their current projects at the time before starting work on “What If It’s Us.” They were able to work well with each other when writing rough drafts as they would each write their own chapters and send them to one another for review, and Silvera described their feedback texts as “little daily reviews.”

To conclude, they took many questions from audience members, which ranged everywhere from favorite musicals to politics to themed playlists to scenes from “Love, Simon” (which is an adaptation from Albertalli’s first book, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda”) and everything in between. Following the discussion, fans had the chance to get their books signed and take photos with the authors.

This entertaining, laughter-filled event was a great start to the tour, and those who missed it have been unknowingly deprived!