Wednesday, 28 August 2013
All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill
“You have to kill him.”
Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell
next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time
machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in
her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present-imprisoned and
tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A
gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America's most famous families, James finally
seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’ life crumbles apart,
and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect
James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive
it. At least not as the girl she once was.
Q&A WITH “ALL OUR YESTERDAYS”
AUTHOR CRISTIN TERRILL
The title for All Our Yesterdays comes from Shakespeare. Why did you choose it?
I was at a total loss for a title as my agent and I were preparing to submit the book to publishers.
I have a masters in Shakespeare Studies, so I often turn to Shakespeare when I get stuck, because you
might as well steal from the best. “All our yesterdays” is a phrase from Macbeth’s famous Act 5, scene 5 soliloquy, which is about the ruthlessness of time.
The character Marina has low self-esteem and tends to be very critical of herself. Why did you
shape her this way?
Because at sixteen, I was very self-critical. It wasn’t until I was older that I was able to see how
hard I was on myself. The relationship between Em and Marina is the heart of the book for me, and I
was inspired to write it after looking at pictures of myself when I was young and realizing that I was somuch cooler/smarter/prettier than I thought back then, when I was convinced I was a total loser. I thinkthat’s a pretty common experience, especially for women, who are encouraged to have low self-esteem by a lot of toxic societal messages that are trying to sell us something. My hope is that self-critical readers will notice how hard Marina is on herself and perhaps realize that a lot of their unkind thoughts towards themselves are just as baseless.
How does Em differ?
Em can see how valuable Marina is and can appreciate the things about her that Marina can’t
appreciate about herself. But Em is only nineteen and is still struggling to learn to appreciate those
same attributes in herself the way she does in her young self.
The girls have different names. When writing the book, were you at first hoping people wouldn’t
find out they were the same person until reading further into the story?
I picked the names “Em” and “Marina” because “Em” doesn’t immediately look or sound like a
nickname for “Marina.” I knew many readers would assume from the beginning that they were the
same person, but I wanted there to at least be some doubt in their minds until I revealed it.
What was it like finding out that the screen rights for your first published novel had been
Utterly surreal. It still hasn’t really sunk in over a year later. When my film rights agent called
to say that Gold Circle was buying the option, my reaction was, “okay.” It takes me a long time to
process major emotion, so I usually default to extreme calmness. I think he was disappointed that I
didn’t seem more excited and asked if I was all right. My agent jumped in and said, “She’s great! This is just how she reacts to things!” Which she learned first-hand, when my reaction to the informationthat we were going to auction with eight different publishing houses was also, “okay.” If I seem cool, it’s just because I’m freaking out so much that my brain has pretty much shut down.
If you could handpick the actors to play Em and Marina in the film adaptation of “All our
Yesterdays,” who would you choose?
This is a tough question. I worked in the theatre for many years and in casting specifically for
some of that time, so I have a lot of respect and affection for actors, and I know how hard it can be to
find the right actor even amongst lots of great ones. I feel like dream casts are often based primarily on who looks the part, but I’m much more interested in what an actor brings to a role that I never saw
there myself, and the person who brings a character to life the most is often not who you’d expect (like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, which is a piece of casting that was initially surprising but turned out beautifully). So to give a total non-answer answer, I would want whichever actors bring the most life and authenticity to the characters, regardless of any other factors like appearance or name recognition.
The book explores a quite controversial subject of justifying harm for the good of many. What
would you do if you were in Em’s shoes?
I have no idea what I would do! The question of whether it’s okay to harm a few for the good of
the many was a question I wanted to play with largely because I don’t have a position or an agenda I
wanted to get across. If I were Em, I might just take up Finn’s offer to drive down to Florida and spend the rest of my time sitting on the beach, because I’m not sure I could handle the stress as well as she does!
Reviewers rave that the book is “time travel done right.” What’s the key to a good time travel
I don’t think there is one, because there are so many different ways to do time travel. You could
plop someone a hundred years in the future and do a fish-out-of-water story or send them back in time as a twist on historical fiction. Personally, my favorite is the really twisty, emotional, complicated kind of time travel I’ve written, where a character is traveling into and affecting their own timeline. But it’s hard, and there are so many days when I have to put my head down on my desk to try to figure out just what the heck is going on and how make all the threads match up. As long as I don’t write myself into a massive plot hole, which I’ve done many times, then hopefully I’m doing it right!
If you could go back in time to one event or day in particular, which would you choose?
Wow, that’s hard. One thing I’d love is to go back to the 1600s and see one of the original
performances of Hamlet or Twelfth Night.
You host creative writing workshops for young kids and teens. What tips can you give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot, write at least a little every day, and figure out what’s unique about your voice. If you
can do that, pretty much everything else will fall into place.
You’re already at work on a sequel. Is there any insight you can give to fans?
Em and Finn were wrong.