Hostile Questions: Rainbow Rowell

HOSTILE LOGOWe at Hostile Questions HQ have been tapping the phones of thousands of authors since we founded our operation in 2012 and it’s time to go public with yet another bombshell. In March 2013, General Rowell (Codename: “Rainbow”) launched a frontal assault against the young-adult world with the Printz Honor-winning (and also Everything-Else-winning) Eleanor & Park. Then, in September–a mere six months later–she hit our flank with the celebrated Fangirl. We crumpled before this two-pronged blitzkrieg.

What we have uncovered is shocking. Even as we struggle to reassemble our shattered YA universe, Rowell is plotting to release a relentless six books in the latter half of 2014: Eleanor & Fangirl, Fangirl & Park, Fanpark, Parkgirl, The Fault in our Parks, and Eleanor and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Do you not have a shred of decency, Rowell? Not a single shred?!?

Rowell relaxing and pondering 17 more books.

          Not seen: hands, furiously typing.

Just who do you think you are?

Is that a mean way of asking if “Rainbow” is my real name? Because it is.

My mother said I could change it when I turned 18, and I was like, “I’m totally going to change it to Sarah with an ‘h.’ I’ll show you, you misguided hippy.

And then I turned 18 and realized that my friends would mock me if I asked them to start calling me “Sarah.” I’ve been stuck with Rainbow ever since.

I think that 90 percent of the people who read my books assume that “Rainbow” is a pen name, which makes me think about what sort of person would choose to be called “Rainbow”… It’s not the pen name you’d choose if you wanted people to take you seriously, you know? (I always think of that woman in Harold and Maude, who introduces herself as “Sunshine Doré.”)

I suppose I’ve mostly made peace with it now. It’s hard to imagine having a name I’d have to share with other people.

Where do you get off?

Omaha, usually.

I was born here, and I mostly grew up here, and I’ve never seriously thought about leaving.

When I started writing books, I decided to set them in Omaha because Omaha almost never shows up in popular culture. And when Omaha or Nebraska does show up, it’s usually as a punchline. (Maybe these are just funny-sounding words, and I don’t get the joke because I’m from here.)

I’ve always liked the way John Waters keeps telling stories about Baltimore. I’d like to keep telling stories about Omaha.

Though, as I typed that, I realized that my next book, Landline, mostly takes place in Los Angeles.

LandlineWhat’s the big idea?

Do you mean with my next book?


Landline is about a woman whose marriage is in a rough place. Her husband just took the kids to Omaha for Christmas while she stays in Los Angeles to work. As soon as she leaves, she discovers a magic phone (that’s right, I said MAGIC PHONE) that lets her communicate with him in the past.

But then she has to decide what she’s supposed to do with the phone. Is she supposed to fix her marriage from the past? Is that even possible? Or is she supposed to make sure she and her husband never get married at all?

Besides a magic phone and marital strife, this book also has lots of jokes and references to ‘70s TV shows. Also, there’s snow.

What is your problem, man?

The Sherlock hiatus.

Haven’t you done enough?

For real. I’ve had three books come out in 15 months, and I am tired.

I’m working on a novel right now, but then I’m going to take a break. I’m going to try writing the Eleanor & Park screenplay instead. (Wish me luck. I’ve never written a screenplay before.)

And then I’m going to collaborate on a graphic novel with Faith Erin Hicks – which I am SUPER excited about, because I’m a big fan of her work, and I’ve always wanted to work in comics.



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

7 Comments on "Hostile Questions: Rainbow Rowell"

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  1. Sarah is a GREAT name, but it isn’t very Rainbow-y.

    I can’t wait to read Landline, and I’m psyched there’s another one after that, and I’m psyched Rainbow is writing the E&P screenplay.

  2.' Evan says:

    Sarah Rowell would be only one letter away from Sarah Vowell. The two of them could then merge into Sarah Vrowell, an unstoppable book-authoring force.

  3.' Erika says:

    Just when I thought I couldn’t love Rainbow Rowell more, she goes and does “Hostile Questions!”

  4.' Rebecca says:

    I was lucky enough to sit next to Rainbow at the breakfast at PLA. She is as wonderful as her books. I would also highly recommend “Attachments” an adult title published a couple of years ago.

  5.' Rebecca says:

    I was lucky enough to sit next to Rainbow at the PLA breakfast. She is as wonderful as her books! I would also highly recommend “Attachments” an adult title published a couple of years ago.

  6.' Sarah says:

    As one of many millions of Sarahs, I think Rainbow made the right choice. I mostly go by my last name because of the multitudes of Sarahs in the world.

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