I wonder if Ann Brashares is tired of talking about the pants. I'm sure she'd never say so, and the Pants (as in Sisterhood of the Traveling) series is still much beloved by old and new readers alike. But still...I imagine it's like having concert-goers always requesting a band's early hits even when they are touring the new stuff. And the new stuff, in this case, is pretty brilliant.
Like her other novels, The Here and Now is captivating and emotionally resonant. This time, travel takes her main character, Prenna, from the harsh world of 2098 to our present day, and while there are no special pants in this story, there is a New York Giants sweatshirt that plays a very important role...you'll see.
How would you describe your book to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?
It’s the story of a girl, Prenna James, who immigrated to the New York area in the present day when she was twelve from the year 2098. By that time the earth is in pretty serious disarray, and everybody is looking for a way out—space stations, other planets. The only scheme that works is a colonization of the past. Prenna’s immigrant community is bound by rules designed to protect the flow of time, most critically: NO emotional or physical intimacy with anyone outside their community.
As the book begins, Prenna is seventeen and drawn into a friendship with Ethan Jarves, a “time native” who seems to know far more about her than he should. It’s a story about forbidden love, the strange perspective gained by seeing our present world from a dark future, and whether it’s right to knowingly mess with time in the hope of a better outcome. It’s also about mosquitoes.
If you could go back in time, what decade/era would you choose to visit?
I guess I’m drawn to hopeful, before-the-fall moments—like England just before the First World War or even this country in the late 1950s. Maybe I’d go back to the suburban Pennsylvania high school in 1957 where my mom was a cheerleader and my dad was a football player and everyone seemed confident in the idea of progress.
If you could only take one thing from your life now on your time travel journey, what would it be?
By “thing” I’m guessing you don’t mean my husband, four children, and dog. So I guess it would have to be my iPhone. I would not expect to get service or anything, and the recharging might pose a problem, but it has many, many books and songs and pictures on it, and those are the main things I’d want with me.
What's your most memorable author moment?
Soon after my first book was published, I was going through an airport and I saw a girl reading my book. It took that concrete experience for me to get the idea that it was a real book and it existed in the real world to be read by real people. I guess I am very literal.
Now that The Here and Now has been released, do you have plans for what’s next?
I am working on a new book, most likely YA. It’s in that fragile stage where if I try to talk about it, it might dissipate. I think it was Norman Mailer who said, “Don’t talk away your book.”
This has been floating around a bit, but if you haven't seen it yet Ann Brashares and Ana Gasteyer (of Saturday Night Live fame) made one of the funniest promo videos I've ever seen for a book. It's all about the pants...