Filled with warmth, adventure and the bright lights of New York City, This Day Changes Everything, Edward Underhill’s sophomore YA novel, is a whirlwind coming-of-age queer romance that carves itself a permanent place in your heart from the first page. This Day Changes Evetything is an endearing and affirming novel and an asset to any bookshelf. To celebrate its release, we’re thrilled to have had the chance to talk to Edward all about it.
Hi Edward! It’s so great to get to chat to you today to celebrate the release of your new whirlwind YA rom-com, This Day Changes Everything! But for readers who may only just be hearing about it, how would you best sum it up in three words?
Queer epic rom-com? Can we count rom-com as one word? (And thank you for having me!)
Can you tell us a little about your inspirations behind Abby and Leo’s story?
The first piece of the story I came up with was this idea of two teens, from two different marching bands, who are both in New York City to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and somehow end up getting lost…with each other. I usually come up with characters before I have any other piece of what they’re actually going to be doing—so this was kind of backwards for me! I had the set-up, and then I had to figure out who these teens were, and why they were there, and what would lead them to fall in love with each other. I think I probably wrote the first few chapters of the book about twenty times, figuring these characters out. Leo came out a lot angrier than I expected, and I tried several times to tone him down, before realizing that he has a lot of reasons to be angry. Both Abby and Leo are struggling with how hard it is to be a queer teen right now, especially in the current climate, especially outside of big cities. Ultimately, I realized I needed to just let them be angry and afraid and anxious, and give them a whirlwind love story anyway. The theme of the book is really that the Universe is kind of magical, and also you get to decide what to do with that. It was really special for me to give trans and queer characters this kind of epic romance—it was a story that I only saw in straight books when I was a teenager.
What would your dream 24hours in NYC look like?
I actually used to live in NYC, so I feel pretty confident in saying my dream 24-hour NYC trip would involve bagels, the Brooklyn botanic gardens, the Union Square holiday market, and the holiday train that’s in the book! (It’s a real thing!) The last time I was in NYC, I came across this tiny, adorable tea shop at like 10pm, and I think that’s what I love the most about NYC: it really does feel magical, because you never know what you’re going to find tucked into some random corner on a street you will definitely never be able to find again.
There’s a specific scene in the book set in a bookshop and involving a scavenger hunt which had me dying to participate in a book scavenger hunt myself but how do you think you’d fare if you were to go up against the QYBC Triple-A club?
Haha, I am so tickled that early readers have loved the scavenger hunt scene because when I was writing it, I kept thinking, is this too silly?! The QYBC Triple-A are pure chaos, and I love them. As for how I’d fare… The funny thing is, I’m actually very competitive, so I’d probably throw myself into it, like Abby does. Pretty sure the QYBC Triple-A would still beat me through sheer tenacity, though.
Between Abby and Leo (This Day Changes Everything) and Miles and Eric (Always the Almost) who do you think would plan the better 24 hour NYC trip?
Oh, Abby would, hands down. Leo wouldn’t even have to help; Abby would have googled five million things to do and planned out a whole itinerary for the day (which Leo would probably roll his eyes at and then secretly enjoy immensely). Miles would just forget about the trip until the last minute and Eric would be so into everything that he wouldn’t be able to choose what to see at all.
You mentioned in your acknowledgements that you don’t believe you were cool enough to be in marching band (I’m sure that is so not true) but if you were to join, what instrument would you want to play and why?
Ha! Well, the funny thing is, I do play an instrument—the cello, which is unfortunately not conducive to marching band at all. But I did play French horn for a little bit in middle school, so maybe that? Or percussion. I do think percussion is very cool.
Finally, are you currently working on anything new and if so, is there anything you can share with us about it?
Yes! I’m working on two books scheduled to come out in 2025 in HarperCollins. My next YA rom-com is currently titled In Case You Read This and is about two trans boys who share an epic missed connection while moving across the country in opposite directions, and then enlist the help of their friends (and a bit of online queer community) to find each other again. I’m also working on my adult fiction debut, which is currently titled The In-Between Bookstore. It’s about a trans man who goes back to the small town where he grew up and discovers that his hometown bookstore is caught in a time loop, with his teenage self working behind the register. It’s literally the book version of “if you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?” I can’t wait to share more about both books in the coming months!