Following two teen rival overachievers over 24 hours on their last day of senior year, Today Tonight Tomorrow, the fantastic new YA rom-com from author Rachel Lynn Solomon, will make you laugh, smile and swoon in equal measures. It’s truly is the perfect pick me up read to help you through a summer in lockdown and we were lucky enough to have the chance to chat to Rachel all about it, as well as get a few writing tips rivals-to-lovers book recommendations.
Congratulations on the release of your gorgeous new YA novel, Today Tonight Tomorrow! For readers who may not be familiar with the books premise, can you tell us a little about it?
Thank you so much! Today Tonight Tomorrow is a romantic comedy about academic rivals who realize they may actually be in love with each other over the course of 24 hours on the last day of senior year.
What was your biggest inspiration behind writing Today Tonight Tomorrow?
For this book, inspiration hit me in two bursts. The first was the movie Before Sunrise, which is about two strangers who meet in Vienna and spend the day exploring the city and falling in love. It’s a great character study that relies primarily on the chemistry between the leads. When I watched it for the first time maybe seven years ago, I loved the idea of being able to tell a complete story with two characters essentially just talking to each other the whole time. I didn’t know where to go from there, though, so I tucked it away.
The second burst of inspiration came from another Richard Linklater movie, oddly enough: Dazed and Confused. I watched it for the first time in 2017 because it’s one of those movies constantly referenced in pop culture, and while it has some problematic elements, I loved how it captured the last day of senior year and wanted to see if I could write an updated YA version. And that’s what the book became: a romantic comedy that combined the love story of Before Sunrise with the atmosphere of Dazed and Confused.
The movie Booksmart functions as an updated Dazed and Confused as well, and I definitely think Booksmart fans would enjoy Today Tonight Tomorrow!
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What enticed you to write a book set over a 24-hour time period?
The timeline was baked into the idea from the beginning. I’ve always loved books that play with structure or time in some way, and it seemed like an exciting challenge. I was also drawn to the idea of being able to tell a complete story about not just this last day of senior year but ideally my protagonist’s high school experience as a whole—all in 24 hours.
Whilst your previous books have also been contemporaries (and wonderful), Today Tonight Tomorrow has more of a classic rom-com, happily ever after feel to it. Was the change in tone something you specifically set out to write or did it come naturally as you fell into the story?
I experienced a bit of a shift in what I wanted to write following the 2016 election, which is something I mention in the acknowledgements of Today Tonight Tomorrow. While I’d always been drawn to writing and reading darker books, suddenly all I wanted to do was read romance. I wanted to write something that would bring me joy as the author, but also something that could help anyone else going through a difficult time. And Rowan talks about that with regard to romance novels, too—they provide such powerful, crucial escapism.
Rowan, the protagonist, is an aspiring romance novelist and with that arose some awesome discussions about the way society perceives and looks down upon certain types of literature. Is there anything you think we in the book community (e.g. authors, bloggers, reviewers etc.) can do to help tackle these stereotypes and misconceptions?
That’s a great question. There are so many people in the book community doing great work promoting romance novels, and I’m still relatively new to the online romance community, but I know I hear the word “but” used somewhat frequently when talking about romance and about YA. “It’s a romance novel but it’s good,” “it’s YA but there’s a lot of depth.” Starting the conversation about a book by immediately qualifying it carries a negative connotation, especially when YA and romance are some of the most progressive, boundary-pushing categories/genres out there right now.
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Do you have any advice for aspiring authors wanting to write YA love stories?
Read as much YA romance as you can! That’s the best kind of education for anyone wanting to write in a certain genre. I also think reading adult romance can be helpful, too—romance authors are phenomenal at building emotional connections between their characters.
What is your favourite thing about writing YA contemporaries?
I love the big emotions that come with YA contemporary. Characters experience their highest highs and lowest lows, and it all feels so incredibly emotional as a reader and as a writer. I think it’s also deeply relatable to read about characters struggling with “who am I?” kinds of questions, which many YA characters are—I know I still wonder that as an adult.
The way you played with the classic rivals-to-lovers trope in Today Tonight Tomorrow was perfect! Do you have any recommendations for readers craving more YA rivals-to-lovers stories? (After finishing Today Tonight Tomorrow first, of course!)
Thank you! I’d recommend 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon, Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi, and I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre (out March 2021).
Do you currently have any projects in the works and if so, can you give us any hints as to what we might expect from you in the future?
My next book is an adult romance novel! The Ex Talk is a romantic comedy set in the world of public radio and will be published by Berkley/PRH in February 2021. I also have another YA romcom coming from Simon & Schuster next summer, starring a wedding harpist disillusioned with love and a cater-waiter who’s a hopeless romantic.
If Today Tonight Tomorrow sounds like your kinda book (because, duh, of course it does) you can listen to Rachel read an extract in the video below.