Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Blog Tour: Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson | Excerpt

Release Date: 21, November, 2017
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary


The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alienshe'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.


The air conditioner wasn’t up high enough
to permeate through more than the top layer of my hair. Even with
the streetlamps burning outside the windows, I knew it would still
be almost ninety degrees outside. I took a long sip of my lemonade.
Sid’s biceps gave an unconscious flex. “They couldn’t have picked
something useful for you to do with your vacation?”
“No,” I said. The truth came out cool and clean against my lips.
“They really couldn’t have.”
When we perfect commercial time travel, everyone in the past is
going to be pissed at us. It’s not only that their quiet, sepia-toned
lives will be inundated with loud-mouthed giants. And it’s not even
the issue that language is a living organism, so all communication
will be way more problematic than anyone ever thinks about.
It’s jet packs.
At some point, someone is going to ask about jet packs, and no
amount of bragging about clean water and vaccines and free Wi-Fi
will be able to distract them. Even if you went back before the In-
dustrial Revolution, someone is going to want to know if we’ve all
made ourselves pairs of Icarus wings.
Defrost Walt Disney and he’ll ask to be put back in the fridge
until Tomorrowland is real. Go back to the eighties and everyone’s
going to want to know about hoverboards.
Hell, go back to yesterday, find your own best friend, and they’d
still ask, “Tomorrow’s the day we get flying cars, right?”
People want miracles. They want magic. They want to freak-
ing fly.
Unrelated: Did you know that crossing state lines on a train is
pretty much the most boring and uncomfortable thing ever?
Despite sounding vaguely poetic, the midnight train to Oregon
wasn’t much for scenery. Unfortunately, running away tends to work
best in the middle of the night, especially when one’s cousins have
a curfew to make and can’t wait on the platform with you.
Twelve hours, two protein bars, and one sunrise later, the view
was rolling brown fields that turned into dilapidated houses with
collapsing fences and sun-bleached Fisher Price play sets. Appar-
ently, the whole “wrong side of the tracks” thing wasn’t a myth.
Everything the train passed was a real bummer.
One should always have something sensational to read on the train,
whispered Oscar Wilde, sounding remarkably like my stepmom.
With my headphones drowning out the screech of the tracks,
I reached into my backpack, pushing past the heavy stack of books
and ziplock bags of half-eaten snacks, to the bottom. Tucked be-
tween the yellowed pages of my battered copy of Starship Troopers
was a folded square of white printer paper. I tried to smooth it over
my leg, but it snapped back into its heavy creases.
Dear Ever,
On behalf of Rayevich College and our sister school, the
Messina Academy for the Gifted, it is my great pleasure to offer
you a place at Camp Onward. At Onward, you will spend
three weeks learning alongside forty-seven other accomplished
high school students from all over the West Coast as you
prepare for the annual Tarrasch Melee. The winners of the
Melee will be granted a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to
Rayevich College . . .
The page was starting to wear thin in the corners from my fin-
gers digging into it whenever it stopped feeling real enough. The
packing list that had once been stapled to it was even worse off, high-
lighted and checkmarked and underlined. I’d had to put that one
inside of an N. K. Jemisin hardcover so that the extra weight could
smash it flat.
I ran my thumb over the salutation again. Dear Ever.
I shivered, remembering how my hands had trembled as I’d read
those words for the first time, stamped to the front of an envelope with the Rayevich seal in the corner. It meant that everything had
worked. It meant that freedom was as simple as a checked box on
an Internet application.
The train lurched to a stop. I shoved the note back inside of Star-
ship Troopers and popped out my headphones just in time to hear
the conductor’s garbled voice say, “Eugene station.”
I staggered down to the platform, my laptop case and my back-
pack weighing me down like uneven scales. I sucked in fresh air,
not even caring that it tasted like cement and train exhaust. It was
cooler here than it was back home. California asphalt held in heat
and let it off in dry, tar-scented bursts.
Oregon had a breeze. And pine trees. Towering evergreens that
could have bullied a Christmas tree into giving up its lunch money.
We didn’t get evergreens like that at home. My neighborhood was
lined in decorative suburban foliage. By the time I got back, our oak
tree would be starting to think about shedding its sticky leaves on
the windshield of my car.
As a new wave of passengers stomped onto the train, I retrieved
the massive rolling suitcase that Beth had ordered off of the Inter-
net for me. It was big enough to hold a small person, as my brother
had discovered when he’d decided to use it to sled down the stairs.
I’d miss that little bug.
There were clusters of people scattered across the platform,
some shouting to each other over the dull roar of the engine. I
watched an old woman press two small children into her bosom and
a hipster couple start groping each other’s cardigans.
In the shade of the ticket building, a light-skinned black guy had
his head bowed over his cell phone. His hair was shorn down to his
scalp, leaving a dappling of curl seedlings perfectly edged around
his warm brown temples. He was older than I was, definitely college
age. He had that finished look, like he’d grown into his shoulders
and gotten cozy with them. A yellow lanyard was swinging across
the big green D emblazoned on his T-shirt.
“Hey,” I called to him, rolling my suitcase behind me. My laptop case swayed across my stomach in tandem with my backpack scrap-
ing over my spine, making it hard not to waddle. “Are you from
The guy looked up, startled, and shoved his phone into the pocket
of his jeans. He swept forward, remembering to smile a minute too
late. All of his white teeth gleamed in the sunshine.
“Are you Ever?” His smile didn’t waver, but I could feel him
processing my appearance. Big, natural hair, baggy Warriors
T-shirt, cutoff shorts, clean Jordans. Taller than him by at least two
“Yeah,” I said. And then, to take some of the pressure off, “You
were looking for a white girl, right?”
His smile went dimply in the corners, too sincere to be pervy.
“I’m happy to be wrong.”
“Ever Lawrence,” I said, hoping that I’d practiced it enough that
it didn’t clunk out of my mouth. It was strange having so few sylla-
bles to get through. Elliot Gabaroche was always a lot to dump on
another human being.
“Cornell Aaron,” the college boy said, sticking his hand out. He
had fingers like my father’s, tapered, with clean, round nails. I spent
the firm two-pump handshake wondering if he also got no-polish
manicures. “I’ll be one of your counselors at Onward. It’s a quick
drive from here.”
He took the handle of my suitcase without preamble and led
the way toward the parking lot. I followed, my pulse leaping in the
same two syllables that had wriggled between the folds of my
brain and stamped out of my shoes and pumped through my veins
for months.
It was a stupid thing to drive you crazy, but here I was: running
away from home in the name of Oscar Wilde.


LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical
theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing
Worse than Me Is You.


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