With their inspired collaboration, "The Future of Us," hitting bookstore shelves November 21, we asked authors Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher to explain the unique premise of their novel and reflect on how today's decisions shape who we become.
Carolyn: In "The Future of Us," Emma and Josh are two teenagers in 1996 who've lived next door to each other their entire lives. Emma gets a new computer and, even though there's no such thing as online social networking yet, this random thing called Facebook appears on her screen. Emma and Josh are completely baffled, but soon realize her computer is offering a time-warp glimpse of their lives 15 years in the future. They see who they marry, where they work, what they just cooked for dinner and they can even check what kind of adults their friends have become. A lot of what they learn is surprising, and some are absolutely shocking.
It was wild trying to imagine how someone from 1996 would view Facebook. These days it seems normal to post random photos of ourselves online and write status updates about what we're eating, or say that our life currently SUCKS. But in 1996, our characters read those future updates and think, "I can't believe I just wrote that for everyone to see! And how in the world did I get 320 friends?"
Jay: When Josh and Emma read their future updates and see those pictures, they have opposite reactions. Josh's future looks great. He ends up marrying the hottest girl in school and living in an expensive house, so he doesn't want anything to change his destiny. But simply knowing the future changes the way he interacts with people, including his future wife. Emma, on the other hand, looks like she has a miserable future. She makes quick fixes to her current life, then goes back on Facebook to see if her efforts will ripple into a happier future. That, of course, doesn't work out so well.
Working on this story, we had dozens of conversations about how everything we do today affects who we become later on, and even affects the lives of the people around us. But how much control do we really have over the details of our lives? I came away from "The Future of Us" thinking it's much more important to make the right decisions for today, as opposed to obsessing too much about the future.
Will you be picking up a copy of "The Future of Us" next week? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!