Two YA authors who met-cute via their agent have co-written a novel—in which two boys meet-cute in a New York City post office. What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli will be published cute too: it will be released in fall 2018 by not just one but two HarperCollins imprints: HarperTeen and Balzer + Bray.
Literary agent Brooks Sherman, who works at Janklow & Nesbit Associates, has represented both Silvera and Albertalli for about four years. The two writers were introduced to one another via email in fall 2013 while both were in the midst of writing novels incorporating LGBTQ themes, and became fast friends before they ever met in person.
The budding friendship was cemented when Sherman—whom both authors refer to as their “literary godfather” —sold, within days of each other, Silvera’s debut novel, More Happy Than Not (Soho Teen, 2015) and Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Balzer + Bray, 2015).
“Within weeks, [we] were sharing every cringey detail of every past relationship,” they wrote in a letter explaining how the project emerged. “In one glorious filter-free moment, Becky told Adam about a Missed Connection she’d posted on Craigslist a decade earlier. It was the most romantic gesture she’d ever made. In response, she received a message from a would-be suitor whose penis was ‘literally as thick as a Coke can.’ In this exchange, Adam saw the first seeds of a love story—and Arthur and Ben were born.”
What If It’s Us opens as Arthur and Ben meet at the post office as Ben is shipping his ex-boyfriend’s things back to him. They subsequently endure the frustration of knowing there was a missed connection, before the universe pushes them back together again in a series of failed “first” dates.
While working on their own individual book projects, Silvera and Albertalli spent three years weaving their tale together “over email, in cars, on the phone, and in hotel rooms all over the universe,” with Albertalli writing from Arthur’s perspective and Silvera from Ben’s perspective.
Sherman told PW that he had shared the project proposal “exclusively” with each author’s editor at HarperCollins: Andrew Eliopoulos of HarperTeen and Donna Bray of Balzer + Bray. “I was stunned when both editors came back to me with a joint offer to co-publish Adam and Becky’s co-written novel,” Sherman said, “[It’s] a collaboration of authors, editors, and imprints.” It’s also, he added, “a culmination of their friendship coming up as YA authors over the last few years. “
Silvera agreed with Sherman’s observations, noting that the duo’s friendship and love for the story they wrote together “has only grown,” as they “finally had the opportunity to bring our boys to life.” Albertalli added, “We are painfully obsessed with Arthur and Ben. We’ve been talking about them as if they’re real people for over three years.”
In conclusion, Silvera wrote, “It’s really funny how many readers have asked us to write a book together, considering Becky and I write wildly different endings for our respective works. Becky is known for making your heart happy, and I have a reputation for tearing it out. We can’t wait to hear what readers think about where we landed.”