The novel More Happy Than Not disguises as a young adult novel, but it raises such existential questions and problems that even leave the greatest philosophers confused. The protagonist Aaron has to decide in a horrible life situation if he wants to delete his memories about a beloved person, so that he can stay with someone else. He hesitates not only between a boy’s and a girl’s love, but also between two identities – one is labelled as ’abnormal’ by heteronormative society, the other is glorified. I asked the author Adam Silvera about the novel’s backgrounds.
I’ve read that you worked for a literature agency before, reviewing children’s and YA books. What motivated you to go “to the other side” and write your own novel?
I worked in publishing as a book reviewer, book seller, and in marketing. But my love had always been with writing and these were all jobs that taught me how to not only be a better writer, but to have a deeper understanding of this industry.
Back then, when you still collected the ideas for the novel, what came first? The main storyline or the characters with their personality?
Character usually comes first to me. We all have such different experiences and it’s those experiences that influence the character’s decisions which evolves into a storyline.
What I like in your narration is its outspoken and realistic nature. Do you think that reading about Aaron’s struggles make readers think about their own life and questioning/reconsidering the “eternal search for happiness” that affects all human beings?
Thanks so much. I’ve lived through really depressive episodes where happiness felt so far out of reach and always bounced back so I want to show a character who is going through really difficult trials but tries to find the beauty in the chaos. That’s sometimes the best you can do, but it’s always better than giving up.
Alongside the realistic story, you also created something miraculous with the Leteo Institute’s memory cleaning. From where did you get the inspiration for this?
I was thinking one day about the constant misconception people have where they think sexuality could be a choice so I imagined a world where sexuality could be a choice. And I’ve always loved stories where a character’s memories are messed with so the ideas collided.
What would you suggest to someone (in our real life, without Leteo) who can’t decide between two beloved people, two life goals, two identities or anything else?
You have to pursue what makes you happiest. Whether it’s a city or a job or a person or something about yourself, you will only be your best self by pursuing the path that will make you happiest.