We talked to Joey Graceffa about his new YA dystopian novel “Elites of Eden”
Joey Graceffa is a busy man. He shoots, edits, and uploads videos to his YouTube channel every day. He hosts Escape the Night, a murder mystery sci-fi series on YouTube Red. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author and has a line of T-Shirts, nail polish, and other accessories. Not to mention the fact that he’s a proud dog dad to three adorable pups. (Should we keep going?)
This week Graceffa released his third book, Elites of Eden. The dystopian YA novel is the much-anticipated sequel to Children of Eden, which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for YA hardcover books this time last year. The books tell the story of Rowan, the girl with kaleidoscope eyes, a twin born into a futuristic society where families are only allowed to have one child apiece. The world within Elites of Eden is unlike anything we’ve read before, and Graceffa makes you seriously stop and think about our own world with every word.
We spoke with Joey about Elites of Eden, his seemingly endless creativity, and how he balances so many different projects at once. Oh, and how he manages to interact with his over 8.2 million YouTube subscribers, 5.5 million Instagram followers, and 3.9 million Twitter followers.
HelloGiggles: Elites of Eden takes such a unique approach to the dystopian genre. How did you come up with the idea?
Joey Graceffa: I think one of the biggest things that I wanted to touch on was taking a look at our own current status with the world — just imagining if you were in the future looking back at us now. What would they say? You know how we look at history and we’re like, Oh, they were so dumb. People in the future are going to look back on us now and be like, Wow, they were so dumb. So that’s kind of a recurring theme in this book.
HG: The book has a lot of layers.
JG: I focused on some of the things that we take for granted with our planet, and how we treat it, and what the potential outcome could be leading to this dystopian world. That led into the other themes that happen. Like, the government putting in strict laws where families can only have one child each — that was definitely inspired by the Chinese one-child policy. If that happened now, it could definitely happen in the future to preserve resources.
HG: The book is also very environmental.
JG: That’s another thing — there are so many things that we could change about how we create our food. We do so many things that we just aren’t changing fast enough. Meat farms are actually one of the biggest leading causes of climate change — how much it takes to feed animals, and their waste puts so much gas into the world.
HG: You’ve talked openly about wanting to turn this series into a movie. Where do you see the stories going from here?
JG: I’m definitely ready for it to be a movie for sure! I’m hoping that with the second book out, that will open some more doors and possibilities. I think it’s such an important story. It’s a fun way of planting seeds in people’s minds about a future reality. It’s not so farfetched to some other dystopian stories, where it’s like, Well, that could never happen. But this is a true possibility of humanity destroying itself and leading to this not-so-happy future of having these strict laws in place, and not having normal food — in this future, people just eat what they have left. And that kind of leads to the one-child policy.
HG: You work on so many different types of projects — the books, daily YouTube videos, your YouTube Red Series Escape the Night, your merchandise. How do you balance so many things at once?
JG: I think it’s just my personality. I like to do a little bit of everything. I don’t put myself in a box of just doing one thing. If I like something and I want to do it, I go out and make it happen. But it’s definitely not just me that gets these things to happen. I’m the idea man that wants all these things, and then I have a really great team that helps me realize them and bring them to life.
HG: You’ve had a very natural progression of a career. Is this what you always pictured yourself doing?
JG: Ever since I was a kid, I always had these stories and these ideas in my head. I was always so creative and imaginative. I loved boxes; I could do so many things with boxes. I would make spaceships, I would make houses, and I would just live in this world and play make believe all day. That carried on, and I don’t think I ever really grew up from that. I just love playing make believe and creating these fun stories in my head. It’s cool now that I get to actually bring them to life, through paper or through screen. It’s definitely a dream come true that I get these opportunities to share my stories, and they’re not just living in my head. Same with all the other projects that I have — things that I want to make happen, I just go for it.
HG: You’ve built such a wonderful community of open and accepting people. What is your relationship like with your fans?
JG: How I’ve grown on YouTube and my interactions with fans has never really been…I’m not one of those people that is too controversial. I’m not problematic with things. There are a lot of YouTubers who kind of do that to get their fame, and that’s never really been me. So I get genuine people who just love my content coming to my channel, and they find a connection with me on a deeper level. I think that’s why they’re so supportive, and I’ve been so lucky to have such a great audience. I connect with them through Twitter, Instagram — all the different platforms, responding and keeping in touch and just being genuine.