What if you could know which day on Earth would be your last, and what if you couldn’t ignore the phone call that let you know? Bestselling author Adam Silvera imagines a near-future world where each person’s death is foreseen by a mysterious, shadowy organization known as Death-Cast.
Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emerito are two very different teens living in New York City. They don’t have much in common—except for the fact that they’ll both be dead tomorrow. A soaring, heart-rending story that explores the fleeting fragility of youth and life, They Both Die at the End urges young readers to be true to themselves, love fiercely and live courageously. We spoke with Silvera about his life philosophy, the importance of queer stories, his upcoming projects and more.
Can you tell us a bit about your initial inspiration for this story?
They Both Die at the End was inspired by this panicking anxiety of not knowing when we’re going to die, and wondering how differently our final day would look if we know when that day was.
During your own teenage years, would you have identified more with Rufus or Mateo? Why?
I was definitely more of a sheltered Mateo who wanted to be more like outgoing Rufus. I had a lot of Rufus’ anger though. But where both boys land by the end, that’s more representative of who I am today.
What would your profile on Last Friend, the app designed for finding a friend to share your last hours with, look like?
My Last Friend profile today would be about how I’m a book-loving queer dude who’s tall for no reason and wants to live an End Day doing things I’ve never done before.
In what ways do you think our current society would be different if we had Death-Cast?
There would be so much carefree living. Even on the days when he doesn’t get “the call,” Mateo is very paranoid, anxious and scared he’ll do something that will cause his death the next day, but I think the majority of the country would be making risky choices they normally wouldn’t make because of fear of dying.
What do you hope readers take away from this story?
We don’t have Death-Cast as an actual resource, so we should truly treat each day like it counts.
YA lit has made some exciting strides in terms of highlighting LGBTQ+ stories and voices. Why is it important for you to write queer-centered stories specifically for a teen audience?
We need more and more and more and more and more and more queer stories on these shelves. Currently, in some bookstores, they shelve the queer narratives they have on one or two shelves, and I dream of having so many books out there that we can fill entire bookcases. One person’s experience won’t reflect the masses, so we need as many voices out there as possible so more teens can see themselves and meet others unlike themselves.
What are you working on next?
A Secret book plus a Secret Fantasy book.
What’s your best advice for living life to the fullest?
Do the things that matter most to you, carefree, with the people who you love most.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of They Both Die at the End.
Author photo by K.W. Strauss