Interview by Nicholas Havey
Robbie Couch writes contemporary and speculative young-adult fiction. If I See You Again Tomorrow was an instant New York Times bestseller and has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Couch’s debut, The Sky Blues, was a Barnes & Noble Young-Adult Book of the Year finalist and Junior Library Guild selection. Couch is originally from small town Michigan and lives in Los Angeles.
Setting is exceedingly important in all of your books. What made you decide to set If I See You Again Tomorrow in Chicago?
Chicago felt like the perfect place to set IF I SEE YOU AGAIN TOMORROW. I wanted the story to take place in a city that felt both big and filled with possibility—and maybe a little bit magical too—while also feeling like home. Chicago was the only city that perfectly landed in that sweet spot to me.
I need to know more about Ben’s. What sparked this piece of the story? Why is everything blue? Are you a baker yourself?
I’m a terrible baker (I keep telling myself I’ll get better!), which is probably why I wanted to write a character like Otto, who thrives in the kitchen. As far as what sparked the idea for Ben’s, I knew that I wanted the first errand that Clark and Beau went on to feel especially fun and quirky while also speaking to something personal in Clark, who loves to bake. What better spot than a bakery where everything is the same color?
Across all of your books I find myself much more drawn to the side characters. Do you have a favorite in If I See You Again Tomorrow?
I love that you’re drawn to the secondary characters. I love stories that have an ensemble of strong, developed characters with their own arcs, so it’s something I strive to do with my own work. My favorite secondary character would have to be Otto. He has such a big heart and is somehow able to see the goodness in the world, even after experiencing such heartbreak and loss.
Speaking of side characters, are there any characters from any of your books that you’d like to revisit and give their own story?
Definitely! I’d absolutely love for Beau to be centered in his own story someday (stay tuned on that!). I also fell in love with Bree from THE SKY BLUES, as well as Danny in BLAINE FOR THE WIN. I feel like their stories are just beginning on the pages of my first three books. I wanted to stick with them a lot longer!
Time loops are a great way to explore mistakes and try out new ideas. Was there anything that you tried out in If I See You Again Tomorrow that got cut from the final version?
Yes! Oh my God, lots of things, haha. For one, I knew that I wanted the story to start out with Clark having already been trapped, as opposed to the reader experiencing that first repeating day with him, and I tried out lots of ways of exploring if and how the reader would be filled in on the first 308 todays Clark lived through, including flashback scenes and a prologue. Ultimately, I decided the best way to approach that aspect of Clark’s story was to pepper in tidbits of that journey, mostly in the first handful of chapters.
What’s next for you?
My fourth book, YOU AGAIN, is another speculative, queer, YA romance and I’m in the revisions stage of writing it now. If a reader enjoyed IF I SEE YOU AGAIN TOMORROW, I think they’ll love YOU AGAIN even more. (To be clear, they’re not part of a series with the same characters, even though their titles sound similar!)
About the Interviewer: Nick Havey is Director of Institutional Research at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a thriller and mystery writer, and a lover of all fiction. His work has appeared in the Washington Independent Review of Books, Lambda Literary, and a number of peer-reviewed journals.