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NUNN ON ONE MOVIES David Levithan brings 'A' game in new movie
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Every Day is a new movie based on the novel by out writer David Levithan. It follows the story of a 16-year-old girl named Rhiannon searching for her soulmate. She becomes involved with a soul described as A, who wakes up in a different body each day. The spirit crosses genders in the process, and a challenging romance blooms along the way.

Levithan is known for creating strong gay characters in books such as Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing. Several of his adaptations have been films, like 10 Things I Hate About You and Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. Short works include Quiz Bowl Antichrist and Your Temporary Santa.

Windy City Times: Did you always want to be a writer? Who were you influenced by?

David Levithan: I was always a devout reader, which I think is what clearly led to me being a writer.

Looking back now, I'd say I was influenced by all the authors I loved, whether it was Judy Blume, Judith Viorst, Cynthia Voigt or Ellen Raskin.

WCT: What makes a good writer?

DL: To somehow manage to be honest even when you're making things up.

WCT: What is your coming-out story?

DL: This is why I write fiction and not memoir, I don't really have one. I had a trailblazing gay uncle, so when I found myself on that trail, nobody was that confused. But I will say that having a novel called Boy Meets Boy come out before my high school reunion made it so much easier to come out to high school people who didn't know.

WCT: What did you learn from writing that novel?

DL: I learned that readers were ready for stories about gay teens that weren't drenched in misery. It's hard to believe now, but it seemed like a radical notion in the early 2000s to have a dippy happy romantic comedy featuring gay teens.

Now we have Love, Simon getting a big ol' movie release. A bunch of other writers and I worked hard to clear that path.

WCT: Favorite thing about Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist?

DL: Writing it with Rachel Cohn! To this day, it's the most fun I've ever had writing. We had no idea what we were doing as we emailed chapters back and forth to one another, and we had no idea where the story was going. But we know what we had was magic, even if no one else read it. Then a lot of other people read it. And they made a movie out of it that both of us really, truly loved, which was more magic.

WCT: Tell people about the story of Every Day.

DL: It is the story of A, who since birth has woken up every day in a different body and different life. A's lived a very solitary life, but that changes upon meeting Rhiannon, a girl trapped in a bad relationship. A sees her for who she is, and she, after having to adjust to the whole concept of A's life, starts to see A as well. The question is: Can you love someone who changes every day?

WCT: Where did the idea for it start?

DL: I was walking to work one day and thought, "What would it be like to wake up in a different body every morning?" I just ran with it, because I loved the notion of A being defined entirely by an interior life, not the way the world sees A.

WCT: Did you ever wish you were someone else or could switch bodies when you were 16?

DL: I didn't wish I was someone else, but I totally had body-swap fantasies. Part of this was because of Mary Rodgers and Freaky Friday.

It was also a good way to keep my imagination going.

Even in high school, I can remember sitting bored in class, imagining what life would be like if I switched bodies with various people in the class.

WCT: Talk about Ian Alexander and the trans character Vic.

DL: I think A is somewhat in awe of Vic because after years of being inside people who passively accept the bodies they were born into, Vic is refusing society's definition of the body Vic was born into, and is instead being exactly who they want to be. Even though A is really agender more than transgender, there's certainly a kinship there. As a result, it was absolutely vital to have Vic be one of the characters in the movie, and to have an actor who shares Vic's identity. Ian Alexander completely nails it.

WCT: Do you think of terms of it being a movie when you wrote it?

DL: No, because what movie studio would ever take a gamble on a genderqueer paranormal story where the lead is played by sixteen or seventeen different actors? Happily, I was wrong.

WCT: Do you think a gay director was important for the adaptation?

DL: Michael Sucsy understood from the get-go what the story was about, and was deeply dedicated from the get-go to having as inclusive a scope as possible. I imagine his own identity gave him insight into these things, but I think his empathy was the most important factor.

WCT: Had you seen his project, HBO's Grey Gardens?

DL: I had! I feel Michael's empathy for strange situations was abundantly apparent in his direction there, too.

WCT: What is your advice for writers just starting out?

DL: Read all the time. Let yourself make mistakes. Don't put the pressure on yourself to write something that will be published instead start by writing something your friends can read, and go from there.

WCT: What projects do you have coming out in the future?

DL: My next book with Rachel Cohn, Sam and Ilsa's Last Hurrah, comes out on April 10. It's about a brother and sister of varying degrees of queerness who throw a rather toxic dinner party right before they graduate high school.

The sequel to Every Day, called Someday, comes out Oct. 2. Meanwhile, look for Every Day in theaters Feb. 23.

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