By Danielle Wilkinson
Today we’re pleased to welcome Justin A. Reynolds to the WNDB blog to discuss middle grade dystopian comedy It’s The End of the World and I’m In My Bathing Suit, out since April 5, 2022!
Twelve-year-old Eddie Gordon Holloway has concocted his most genius plan ever to avoid chores… especially the dreaded L-A-U-N-D-R-Y. If he can wear all the clothes he owns, he’ll only have to do the laundry once during his school break.
On the day of the highly anticipated Beach Bash, Eddie’s monstrous pile of dirty laundry is found by his mom. And Eddie’s day has just taken a turn for the worst. Now he’s stuck at home by himself, missing the bash, and doing his whole pile of laundry. But mid-cycle, the power goes out!
With his first load of laundry wet and the rest of his stuff still filthy, he sets out to explore the seemingly empty neighborhood in his glow-in-the-dark swim trunks, flip-flops, and a beach towel. He soon meets up with other neighborhood kids: newcomer Xavier (who was mid-haircut and has half his head shaved), Eddie’s former friend Sonia (who has spent her entire break trying to beat a video game and was mid-battle with the final boss), and siblings Trey and Sage (who are dealing with major sibling drama).
As they group up to cover more ground and find out what happened, they realize that their families aren’t coming back anytime soon. And as night falls, the crew realizes that they aren’t just the only people left in the neighborhood, they might be the only people left… anywhere.
What inspired you to write It’s The End of The World and I’m In My Bathing Suit?
Look, one thing about me? I’m basically a big kid. And as such, there are times when I just wanna have fun. When I wanna be super silly and irreverent and forget about boring things, like being logical and just crack jokes. Bathing Suit was my chance to not only do that but also to pay homage to movies I grew up loving, like Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Home Alone, and The Sandlot. What I loved most about those films is that a) they featured underdog kids thrown into tough spots and we got to watch them figure it out; we saw them overcome the odds. And b) they weren’t these huge productions; they zoomed in on a neighborhood, on a house, and reminded us while whatever we think we know about the world around us, there’s way more we don’t know.
So, you ended the book on a MAJOR cliffhanger! Please tell me there’s another one in the works and can you give us any teasers?
Nah, that’s just how it ends. The story’s over. I’m kidding. Or am I?
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
Honestly, I hate to tell readers what to take away from my work, because that’s really up to them, but I’ll make this one exception for WNDB, since you guys are cool. So first and foremost, I want readers to have fun. Secondly, to remember that you never know what someone else is going through, so let’s be ambassadors of empathy and compassion, yeah? And last but not least, have fun!
All of the characters were so fun and unique! What is your process for creating a diverse cast of lovable characters?
Great question that I don’t know how to answer, haha. I write a lot of stuff that never makes it into the books I write, and most of that stuff is me attempting to develop and understand each character individually. I’ve done my job if the character with the least amount of on-page time still feels real and true.
You’ve written both middle grade and young adult novels at this point. How do you prepare to write one genre verses the other? Does one genre come more naturally to you over the other?
I never saw myself writing MG, actually. Not because I don’t like it, but the exact opposite. Because there’s so many awesome MG stories, I wasn’t sure I had anything to add. And while I’ll always love YA—what’s not to love—what drew me to MG is that kids give you a lot more space and suspension of disbelief to tell whatever story your brain can conjure, so as long as it’s entertaining, and I think that’s brilliant (and kind) of them.
If it really were the end of the world, which 5 people would you choose to be stuck with on Earth with? These can be fictional or real-life people.
Miles Morales; Julieta, Mirabel’s mom from Encanto; Vince from the cartoon Recess; Scrappy Doo; and Beyoncé.
Your book was so funny! Do you have a method for writing humor into your stories?
I don’t ever set out to write jokes, but even in stories that are SERIOUS, I find there’s always natural space for levity. We need to laugh. It’s great for the soul.
Justin A. Reynolds is the author of Opposite of Always, Early Departures, and the upcoming Miles Morales: Shock Waves. His debut novel published by Katherine Tegen Books was an Indies Introduce selection, a School Library Journal Best Book, has been translated in seventeen languages, and is being developed for film with Paramount Players. Justin is also the co-founder of the CLE Reads Book Festival, a Cleveland Book Festival for middle-grade and young adult writers, which he launched in July 2019. You can find him at justinareynolds.com.
Danielle Wilkinson is a 20-something aspiring author from Atlanta who has always loved the feeling of getting lost in a good story. In 2021, her blog Danielle The Writer was selected as The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites For Writers. She also started her first business the same year, where she teaches new and aspiring authors how to dominate on Instagram so they can grow a community of loyal fans. When she’s not working or writing, you can find her reading with a cup of tea, listening to podcasts, trying to take the perfect photo for her Instagram, or fangirling over K-Pop videos.