Heroes Hit the Road in Rainbow Rowell's 'Wayward Son'

Posted by Marie on September 1, 2019
What do Chosen Ones do after saving the world? In Simon Snow's case, it involves taking a well-deserved vacation.

Now that his heroic days are behind him, Simon's got some free time on his hands. Though he mostly spends it on the couch. Without a big, bad villain to defeat, the young wizard has been more than a little uncertain about the future. Luckily, his best friend, Penny, and his boyfriend, Baz, have just the cure for his existential crisis: a road trip through America.

Simon has never traveled across the pond, but he hasn't said no to an adventure yet. And this time he gets to spend it with the two people he cares about the most.

Goodreads spoke to bestselling author Rainbow Rowell via email to learn more about the follow-up to her fantastical YA parody of the Harry Potter series. It's the first sequel she's ever written and one that's near and dear to her readers' hearts. "It's this honeymoon period where we're all just excited that this story isn't over," she says.

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Goodreads: How does it feel to return to the world of Simon Snow? Or did you ever really leave?

Rainbow Rowell: I did leave—for six months or so after Carry On came out. I'd had one book release after another, and I was exhausted.

So I did other things. I rested. I worked on my graphic novel, Pumpkinheads, and my Marvel comic, Runaways. And then, when my head felt more clear, there were Simon and Baz, like they'd been there all along, waiting for me.

I'm delighted to be with them again! I'm not sure what it is about these characters, but I never get tired of them. I never get tired of their voices.

GR: Carry On was such a unique take on stories with a Chosen One. What compelled you to explore or expand on this popular trope?

RR: Thank you! I've always loved a good Chosen One story. I was obsessed with Star Wars as a kid—even during the lean years between trilogies. And then Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter… I'm a sucker for an orphan who needs to save the world.

At first I didn't trust myself to write fantasy. Maybe because I was a journalist? Writing fantasy feels more like lying than writing contemporary. Anyway, I got over that. I realized that I'd spent so much time with these Chosen One stories and they'd been so formative for me. I had a lot to say on the subject.

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GR: On that note, what's your personal definition of a Chosen One?

RR: Hmm… Usually it's someone who comes from nothing and is responsible for everything. They're usually orphans. They have a gift that makes them uniquely powerful. They probably have a special weapon and a grizzled mentor.

The Chosen One has clarity—that's what I love about them. They wake up one day and discover they have a path. A purpose. A mission. Imagine feeling that much clarity in your own life!

GR: What interpretations of Chosen Ones would you like to see more of in YA?

RR: Gosh, I don't know. The beauty of this type of story is that you can retell it again and again and it's still compelling. You can put your own spin on it and it'd still feel classic.

GR: In Wayward Son, we see Simon struggling to redefine his identity. (Side note: Just how long has he been lying on that couch?) What are his biggest fears?

RR: Poor Simon! I mean, he tells us right away in Carry On that he doesn't like to think about his life. He has one purpose: to be powerful. He doesn't even have to think about what to do with his power—the Mage decides for him!

Well, now the Mage is gone and Simon's magic is gone. And what good is he without them? His closest relationships are entrenched in the world of magic. How long will his best friend and his boyfriend want to hang around with a depowered has-been? How will he fill his days? How does he follow up being the savior? What's his next act?

GR: What can you tell us about the personal challenges that Baz and Penny are facing? What are their biggest fears (or worries) now that they all technically saved the day?

RR: I think they're both very caught up in Simon's worries at the moment. To an unsustainable degree. Penelope has been managing Simon since she was really young. In Carry On, she tells us that her purpose is to support Simon in battle and see him live through it all. Well, she accomplished that. Sort of. They won the war. What's her role now?

And what's Baz's role? He spent most of his teen years rooting against Simon, even though he was half in love with him. They got together in a very dramatic way, on the eve of destruction. Now what? Is that any way to start a relationship? Who are they to each other now that they're not enemies or roommates?

GR: What do you love most about Baz and Simon's relationship?

RR: Oh, that's a good question. I love that they love each other even though it makes their lives more complicated. Like, they can't help it. I love how much they love each other. I love that they both feel so unsure of themselves, but so sure of each other.

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GR: What do Baz and Simon admire the most about each other?

RR: They both admire the way the other has risen above incredible adversity.

Baz loves that Simon is brave. That he doesn't turn away from a challenge. Simon has a more black-and-white view of the world. Things are clearly right and clearly wrong. I think Baz—like me—envies that clarity. For Baz, the world is muddy and hopeless.

And Simon is in awe of Baz's confidence and poise. Watching Baz move through the world is like watching a dancer or an athlete. Baz is beautiful and not just in appearance. He's fundamentally graceful.

They're both fierce people. They're fighters. And I think they love that about each other. It feels good to be fierce together.

I could go on and on like this…

GR: Carry On has such a passionate fan base. Are there any fan encounters that stand out to you?

RR: This last year, since I announced Wayward Son, has been such a delight. I've never written a sequel before, so I've never had the experience of being excited about my next book with other people.

Like, we're all counting down together. We all care about these characters. And nobody is mad at me or disappointed—it's this honeymoon period where we're all just excited that this story isn't over.

GR: What's the most fun about writing about a road trip? Did you actually map out their journey?

RR: I certainly did. I've made most of this trip myself. (I'm actually writing these answers a few hours before leaving on a road trip with my family.) The best part of a road trip is the way you're isolated, together. Like, you're on a really specific adventure with just a few people you care about.

And, unless you're on your phone the whole time, you're experiencing new things together. There's also a sense of danger—or, at least, unpredictability. You've left your home base. You're unstable. There are more variables.

Also, I love singing in cars and trying regional varieties of beef jerky.

GR: If you had to create a playlist that described the general vibe of your characters' road trip, what songs would you include?

RR: I have done this exact thing. There's a Wayward Son playlist on my Spotify page. The vibe of this book is very American compared to Carry On. So, like, songs by Kansas and America and Journey. "A Horse with No Name," "Don’t Stop Believing."

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GR: Can you share one item that Simon, Baz, and Penny each packed with them?

RR: I can! Penny made a playlist. Simon brought his Watford Lacrosse hoodie. And Baz brought all of his toiletries. No hotel shampoo for Baz.

GR: Were there any spells from Carry On that you wanted to include but had to leave on the cutting-room floor?

RR: Ha, no! There are no extra spells. The spells are really hard for me to come up with, so I only figure out the spells I really need. Sometimes I have to leave placeholder spells—"spell that makes rain" or "spell to find someone"—and figure them out much later. They're a pain in the neck!

GR: Which books would you recommend to our YA readers?

RR: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi. Great writing, great characters.

Also—Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. This is a gorgeous graphic novel with heartbreakingly real teen characters.

GR: Which books are currently up next on your Want to Read shelf?

RR: I absolutely love Jo Walton, so I'm excited to have her new book, Lent. And Becky Chambers has a novella coming out in September—To Be Taught, If Fortunate. Her Wayfarers series is so good. So good!

Rainbow Rowell's new novel, Wayward Son, is available in the U.S. on September 24. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf. Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-48 of 48 (48 new)

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message 1: by Aimee (new)

Aimee Fantastic interview! Was a great read. Can’t wait for Wayward Son!

message 2: by Talei (new)

Talei Ruby I’m even more excited for Wayward Son after reading this interview

message 3: by Daniela (new)

Daniela Lovely interview!!! The waiting is killing me, though :P

message 4: by Kim (new)

Kim A non nail biter considering biting....thanks for the lure & can’t wait for more Simon, Baz & Penny!! ❤️ All RR books!

message 5: by Liz (new)

Liz Wood Looking forward to it!😊

message 6: by Deeksha (new)

Deeksha The answers were so full of love.
Counting down each day 😆 Can't wait to read it! 💕✨

message 7: by Valois (new)

Valois This is exciting. I need to reread carry on to prepare 😆

message 8: by Maria (new)

Maria Sell Rainbow’s interviews make me beyond happy to read. Thank you for doing this!! Can’t wait for wayward son!!!

message 9: by Esti (new)

Esti  Urrutia Will it be available in Spain this year? I can't wait to read it! ✨✨

message 10: by Christian (new)

Christian LaFreniere To make it rain sing , rain drops keep falling on my head

message 11: by Tamara (new)

Tamara I really liked the interview and it made me even more excited for Wayward Son!

message 12: by Tegan (new)

Tegan Peirson I absolutely loved reading through this interview! It’s so endearing to hear the writer themselves gush about this sequel and the characters, just as much as all the fans are! It feels like a real sneak peek! Can’t wait for Wayward Son!! :D

Carolina🌟 I’m counting the days!!!! Can’t wait!!! 🤩😍
Thank you Rainbow!!!

message 14: by Brece (new)

Brece Cuca Were waiting for him someday in spanish for yours mexican fans!

message 15: by Rox (new)

Rox "I love that they both feel so unsure of themselves, but so sure of each other."

SO excited for more of these boys!

message 16: by karla⁹ ⛈ (new)

karla⁹ ⛈ can’t wait for wayward son, even tho i think it will break my heart once or twice

message 17: by Susi (last edited Sep 08, 2019 11:06AM) (new)

Susi Que genial entrevista, sin duda Rainbow Rowell es una de mis autoras favoritas y estoy muy feliz de que este al fin Wayward Son y la espera de leerlo sin duda me esta matando.
Gracias Rainbow por tanto.!!!!!!!💖💖💖

message 18: by Rory Vann (new)

Rory Vann I really want to read it, I can’t wait more

message 19: by Emily (new)

Emily Ozuna I want Wayward Son so badly that I can't stop counting the days before i have it in my hands 😍😍

message 20: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Nice interview but I was hoping you'd ask her about the connection to fanfiction and Supernatural as they are related. Destiel anyone.

message 21: by Pai (new)

Pai I AM SO EXCITED! I can't wait until wayward son comes out. And this interview was spectacular!

message 22: by Karen (new)

Karen Montalvo Didn’t think it was possible to be even more excited for Wayward Son, but here I am, absolutely hyped and ready for this book! 💙💛

message 23: by Ruth (new)

Ruth I literally have a timer set to go off on the 24.

message 24: by cardigan catra (new)

cardigan catra I'm so excited for Wayward Son. I have waited so long for it. I can't believe its almost here.

message 25: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Can not wait for this books 📚

message 26: by Melly (new)

Melly Sabrina wrote: "Nice interview but I was hoping you'd ask her about the connection to fanfiction and Supernatural as they are related. Destiel anyone." THANK you. Jeez Louise!

message 27: by TMR (new)

TMR Can someone please just flag this Cassandra? She’s been spamming almost every goodreads discussion. They’re irrelevant as hell and utter nonsense. If y’all could kindly pitch alongside me to report her it would be great.


message 28: by TMR (new)

TMR On a brighter note, I loved this interview, and so excited for pumpkinheads!


message 29: by Emma (new)

Emma Kathleen W. As long as Simon and Baz remain together then I’ll be okay 🥴

message 30: by Era (new)

Era Johnson Can’t wait to go on this new adventure with Simon, Baz and Penny!!!

message 31: by Dustin (new)

Dustin A very delightful interview. Thank you for sharing. 😀

message 32: by shouko (new)

shouko omg me and my friend been fangirling about this book since ages . and we are so excited to read the sequel ! 17 days to go !

quietly_in_a_corner Aaah, I can't wait for this book! Also, I love Rainbow Rowell so much. Each answer is filled with so much love for the character and the

message 34: by Fayrooz (new)

Fayrooz I`m now even more excited!!
we are used to tales ending at such major event where something fundamental is lost, and that`s it. we close the book and wonder what are they going to do from now on ? how exactly are they going to live and behave after this ?
Now, she talked about the fears they have for the future.and if this book address these aspects and fears and developments then IT`S GONNA BE LIT !
I am so thankful for you Rainbow for having this vision.

message 35: by ANR (new)

ANR I can’t wait to read the book after this interview!

message 36: by Jenny (new)


message 37: by Lu (new)

Lu Catt I don’t even have words to describe how excited I am for this AND THIS INTERVIEW JUST HEIGHTENED IT

message 38: by Mikorin (new)

Mikorin looking forward to the sequel! the first book was absolutely charming

message 39: by Angebyong (new)

Angebyong I like it

message 40: by Cate (new)

Cate Soooooo excited for this book to come out! The waiting is killing me!

message 41: by Thush (new)

Thush Super excited for Wayward Son💃

message 42: by Lupita (new)

Lupita Camelo castillo OMG!!! I'm so excited about this

message 43: by Echo (new)

Echo I can't wait for the book. These next four days are going to go by foreverrrrrrrr

message 44: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle This book will make me cry!!!

message 45: by Urutani (new)

Urutani Que divertida y agradable entrevista, con ello mi emoción por la leer la secuela esta en aumento, espero pronto poder tener el libro en mis manos.

(Very funny and pleasant interview, with it my emotion for reading the sequel is on the rise, I hope soon to have the book in my hands.)

message 46: by Angel (new)

Angel Audor Can't wait to read the book

message 47: by Xiao (new)

Xiao I have finished it very quickly. It's different than the first book but I loved it as well!! 😍

message 48: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Thank you.

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