JEN WILDE (she/they) is the queer, disabled author of Queens of Geek, The Brightsiders and Going Off Script. Their debut novel This Is The Way The World Ends is a thrilling story about privilege and power on the backdrop of a murder. Good Reading for Young Adults caught up with Jen to discuss everything from books, reading habits to her characters and novel.
ABOUT THE BOOK
As an autistic scholarship student at the prestigious Webber Academy in New York City, Waverly is used to masking to fit in – in more ways than one. While her classmates are the children of the one percent, Waverly is getting by on tutoring gigs and the generosity of the school’s charming dean. So when her tutoring student and resident ‘it girl’ asks Waverly to attend the school’s annual Masquerade disguised as her, Waverly jumps at the chance – especially once she finds out that Ash, the dean’s daughter and her secret ex-girlfriend, will be there.
The Masquerade is everything Waverly dreamed of, complete with extravagant gowns, wealthy parents writing checks, and flowing champagne. Most importantly, there’s Ash. All Waverly wants to do is shed her mask and be with her, but the evening takes a sinister turn when Waverly stumbles into a secret meeting between the dean and the school’s top donors – and witnesses a brutal murder.
Waverly’s fairy-tale has turned into a nightmare, and she, Ash, and her friends must navigate through a dizzying maze of freight elevators and secret passageways if they’re going to survive the night.
WHAT’S ON JEN’S BOOKCASE?
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Old Enough by Haley Jakobson, so I’ve been devouring that. And I just bought Dyscalculia by Camonghne Felix, so that’s up next!
Only five? How rude! My first choice would absolutely be Last Night At The Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo – my comfort read and most favourite book. Then I’d take Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour, another favourite.
To help with loneliness, I’d take another favourite; How To Be Alone by Lane Moore. Lastly, I’d take a classic; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Where is your favourite place to read?
On my couch by the bay windows, under a blanket, with my wife on the other end and our cats cosied up in between us.
Do you read one book at a time or multiple?
I usually read one physical book and one audiobook at the same time. The physical book is probably fiction, while the audiobooks are usually memoirs and biographies.
Do you use a bookmark or fold the corners of pages?
A bookmark! I have a collection of them from different stores that I rotate between, ensuring I always have one ready and never have to resort to dog-earing any precious pages.
Where did you get the inspiration for your latest novel This Is The Way The World Ends?
I’ve always been interested in the divide between the haves and have-nots, and I’ve wanted to explore it in a book for a while. But living in New York City during the height of the pandemic was the match that lit the fire in me to write this story. Seeing the NYC’s most privileged folks buy their way into safety either by skipping the wait for vaccines or skipping town altogether was frustrating to say the least – especially as someone who is disabled and has immunocompromised friends. I needed somewhere to put my anger, so I wrote a story about the ultra-rich prepping to abandon everyone else in a disaster, and the queer, disabled outcasts who fight to stop them.
In what ways do privilege and power impact the actions and decisions of your characters throughout the story?
Privilege and power – or the lack of – impact every character in this story. Many of the characters at the academy were born into an excessive amount of privilege, using it as a form of power over others. They use it to manipulate and exclude those with less than them, and have a greed for more, more, more. The main character, Waverly, wasn’t born into wealth or power, and she feels that lack every day. It’s that lack of power and privilege that motivates her to work hard, to get a scholarship, and ultimately to fight the injustice she uncovers throughout the book.
Your novel is set at a masquerade ball where a brutal murder takes place – why did you think this was the perfect setting for a thriller?
I can’t think of many things worse than being trapped in a party filled with disgustingly rich elitists in creepy masks. Add a bit of murder and some cult vibes and it’s enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine, I think. Besides that, writing about a ball being held by a billionaire leaves tons of room for creativity, like hidden passageways, a hall of mirrors and secret rooms. It was a blast to write!
What do you like to drink or eat while reading?
If I’m reading during the day, probably an iced coffee. At night, maybe a hot chocolate or cup of tea.
I’m way too anxious to be meeting any of my heroes, but if I had to choose? I think it would be cool to meet Louisa May Alcott, there are so many questions and theories about her gender and sexuality and I’d love to sit down with her and hear what she would say.
Explore more about Jen Wilde HERE.