Interview with David Levithan

Author of “Every Day”

Dallas, Texas, February 22, 2018


RS:  I relate to this idea of the essential essence of a person beyond a physical manifestation because I've been married 49 years to the woman I met in Junior High.  Obviously, she's changed a lot since then, physically, but the essence of her has remained uniquely her.  Does that resonate with you?

DL:  I freely admit it was not in the book, but I love that they have Rhiannon's parents in the movie.  I think with the plot about Rhiannon being first love, new and young, I'm glad there's this counterpoint of her parents, that they've changed.  And you choose whether to grow closer or not, but it's still a conversation, there's still something you love about them, even if they change over time.  That does add the element of time to the narrative, but that wouldn't be present with just teenage characters.

RS:  So why did you decide to go teenage?

DL:  Well, I am a YA writer (young adult), and that's the reason:  I think it's the origin story for our identities.  In high school, that's the first time you really have the agency to decide who you are, and you can take on influences outside of your family or the classroom, and so that seems a natural time for characters to explore.  And specifically for A, part of my question was “How long could you be that lonely without falling into despair?” ---if you've gone ever day of your life without connecting to anybody; every day being separate.  So A, being 16, needs to connect to somebody or something's going to go very wrong.

RS:  I liked A's unselfish act in letting Rhi go because he thought she needed a real relationship, but I worried later that the guy she was investing in wouldn't be the same person she expected, so how would that work?  I guess that would be for the sequel?

DL:  As a matter of fact, it is!  (both laugh)

RS:  Really?

DL:  Yes, navigating that.

RS:  So it must have been interesting casting this thing.

DL:  Yes, happily, I was a bystander in this.  But the Rhiannon character was perfect.  And the Director sent me the images of all 16 of the leads, and it was important to me that it was diverse, even if it didn't precisely match the book.

RS:  OK, I have a religious bent, so I have to go here.  It's hard for me to think about the concept of “spirit” or “soul” without associative religious content.  How do you feel about that?

DL:  It is not the approach that I took to it, but I think it's certainly an interpreation that fits.  I've received great e-mails from readers who've commented on that.  We just have faith in what we believe, and I think that works.  The one thing about A—I don't want to say he's a pure soul---but he's trying to do the right thing.  The defining characteristic is his moral responsibility, and that clearly comes from somewhere. 

RS:  That's true.

DL:  And in the sequel we have “X,” who's the foil to “A,” the opposite.

RS:  Ah, the introduction of evil.

DL:  I strong resisted writing a good vs. evil story in this one, because I wanted it be about identity and love.  But a natural next step would be to examine what happens when somebody gets away with something because he can.  There are certainly moral and religious interpretations to that.

RS:  You've written the sequel—are we going to see another movie?

DL:  I hope so!  We're seeing how the next few weeks go!

RS:  I hope so, as well.  Good luck to you.

DL:  Thanks very much!


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association