Interview: Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere

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So, all those who subscribed to my blog, you know how I love the debut authors. They are wonderful and lovely and I’m always so glad to chat with them.
Now I present to your attention author, whose book I want more than chocolate cake. (Seriously, I’m ready to fight with the lion and the flood for the ARC. So if you have it, I warn you: keep your eyes open).
I sincerely hope that you will enjoy all the things I’ll show you today!

*drum roll*
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Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.


1) Were there any funny stories while you worked on The Girl from Everywhere? Or maybe, at that time, the book had a different name, which now makes you smile?

Actually, the story of the title was pretty funny. My working title was The Good Ship Temptation, which kind of made it sound like a mish-mash of a jolly good English novel about sailors who keep hailing the queen, and a hardcore romance novel. Neither of which is right. So, I came up with five options for titles and held a poll among my friends. THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE won by a wide margin of Facebook “likes.”

2) What inspired and/or helped you in the process of writing?

My first inspiration is always coffee. The second is a good doughnut. Music comes in third. But beyond those, I took inspiration from the books that my father liked to read to me when I was young. He would read everything, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Egyptian history to native legends–which of course inspired the fact that the ship can travel to mythological as well as historical places.

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book.

One of my favorite quotes from my own book is: “The one thing I could never buy was more time.” Because that’s true of all of us!

4) How long did it take you to write your novel? What was easier to write: the beginning or the ending?

It took me about a year to write, and I feel like most of that was rewriting the beginning. Beginnings are tough for me because you have to grab people right away but also build an entire world from scratch. It feels like pulling an elephant out of a hat. But I have a document of all the cut material from the book and it’s about 600 pages long. So i wrote almost a thousand pages in a year, and most of them were wrong.

5) If right now someone told you that he can perform any of your three wishes, what would you then wish for?

I’m a big believer in social justice, so I’d wish for an end to oppression. Then I’d wish for a cornucopia–Althea’s Horn–the endless bounty that could feed the world for free. Lastly, I’d wish for the ability to fly because WHO WOULDN’T?

6) If you could, would you write a letter to Nyx? If the answer is yes, what would be the main theme of the letter?

I would write a letter, and I would tell her that even though it may not seem this way, her father–the captain–loves her, and so do I. We are both her creators, and we haven’t given her the easiest life. But she is the best of both of us, and we know she can meet whatever challenges we throw her way.


I’m so excited about this book, that I made a fan art to it!
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Thank you, Heidi! You’re amazing. I’m very glad that I have the opportunity to communicate with you.


6qtnLTl6Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.
She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.
Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

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Interview: Rhiannon Thomas, author of A Wicked Thing

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I want to say that the book by Rhiannon came out February 24 and this post from me is my congratulations to her.
SO CONGRATS, Rhiannon! ❤ I hope this year will be amazing for you. I can only add that I looking forward to start A Wicked Thing, which is already waiting for me on my Kindle!

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Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world… and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.


1) Were there any funny stories while you worked on A Wicked Thing? Or maybe, at that time, the book had a different name, which now makes you smile?
A Wicked Thing went through loads of names. Giving it a title was kind of a nightmare. It was called After for a long while, which I really liked, but there are already a lot of books called that. But I am terrible at naming things. The day before I was supposed to give my editor a list of potential titles, I remember sitting in a café with some of my friends and a notebook, just trying out every possible combination of Sleeping Beauty related words and quotes from the book, desperately hunting for anything that might work. Argh, titles.

But what always makes me smile about the book is the evolution of one of the characters, Finnegan. He didn’t appear in the first draft, and he was just a plot device in the second – I needed Aurora to have a meeting with somebody important, so she could then miss the meeting for Plot Reasons that I don’t remember any more. That part of the story didn’t stick around, but my friend read that version, and her main feedback comment was “I want more Finnegan.” He was in like four pages of the book at that point. So I rewrote and gave him a bigger role, then gave the book to another friend. “I love Finnegan,” she said. “He should be in it more.” So I gave him a BIGGER role. Then my agent told me that she loved Finnegan and he should be in it more. Then my editor told me the same thing. By the end, I was considering scrapping the whole thing and just calling it The Finnegan Story.

They were right, though. He was a really fun character to write, and he ended up being key to the story that I wanted to tell over the series.

2) What inspired you to write A Wicked Thing?

Originally, it was all about the “true love” trope. When the idea first came to me, Twilight was the hottest thing in YA fiction, and there were loads of stories about Fated Love, or other scenarios where two people simply have to be together because destiny says. It really got me thinking, because if a stranger showed up and told me he was my true love and we were destined to be together and save the world, I’d be more than a little freaked out. And I don’t think that sort of pressure is exactly conducive to romance, or at least to a healthy relationship.

And Sleeping Beauty ends so weirdly. Disney made it so that the prince and the princess had at least met before the kiss of true love, but most of the versions have them as total strangers. So what would really happy after the true love’s kiss? The question really bugged me, and it ultimately became A Wicked Thing.

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? (If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book).

I’m going to give one of my favorite quotes from another book, which is “Kiss me, Hardy, kiss me quick!” from Code Name Verity. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what an amazing moment that is, and I dream of being able to pull different parts of a story together in a punch-in-the-gut moment like that one.

4) How long did it take you to write your novel? What was easier to write: the beginning or the ending?

It took about a year to write A Wicked Thing to the point that I thought it was finished. Then it took another three months of editing it with my agent, and two months more editing it with my editor, before it was officially done.

The ending was definitely easier than the beginning. In fact, I think the ending is one of the few things that survived from my very first draft. The words came out right the first time, whereas I rewrote the first chapter more times than I’d like to remember.

5) Can you tell us how you became a published author?

After I graduated from university, I was pretty lost in a sea of “what do I do with my life now??”, and since I’d always wanted to be an author, I decided I would try and write a novel while I was figuring things out. Then I got pretty darn lucky. I queried agents with the novel starting August 2012, and about a month later, I got an offer of representation from my amazing agent, Kristin Nelson. After that, we revised the book together, and then she sent it on submission to publishers. HarperTeen liked it enough to publish it, so that was that! I stopped trying to figure out what sensible career I should be trying to pursue, and started putting all my energy into writing instead.

6) If you could, would you write a letter to Aurora? If the answer is yes, what would be the main theme of the letter?

Hmm, I think my letter to Aurora would be full of cheesy sentiments, like that she should Believe In Herself, and that she shouldn’t sacrifice herself to make others happy. It would probably turn into a feminist pep-talk about how girls are expected to never be “selfish” or put themselves before others, and how that’s totally wrong and she should be able to do what makes her happy.

Also, I’d tell her that you should never trust cute guys in bars. Because seriously.


It was a lot of fun! Thank you so much, Rhiannon 🙂


About the author

Rhiannon Thomas is an English lit grad from Princeton University. She currently lives in York, England, in the shadow of a thirteenth-century Gothic cathedral. When she isn’t lost in YA fantasy, she writes about feminism and the media on her blog, http://www.feministfiction.com.

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Interview: Renee Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn

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I’m so happy today. Guess why?
Yes, yes, I finally was able to post wonderfully interview with the author of the book, for which I’m prepared to kill (just kidding. Almost).

HERE WE GO!!!

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A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.


1) Were there any funny stories while you worked on The Wrath and the Dawn? Or maybe, at that time, the book had a different name, which now makes you smile?

The Wrath and the Dawn was originally called One Thousand One, but my agent thought it sounded a bit too much like sci-fic novel. And as for funny stories, I think it’s impossible to write a book without having at least a few amusing incidents along the way! Probably some of the most memorable ones involve asking my husband and my in-laws to help me with some Persian translations. Let’s just say that the phrase “lost in translation” was absolutely applicable on more than one occasion.

2) What inspired you to write The Wrath and the Dawn?

I was actually inspired to write it by a tapestry hanging on the wall of my in-law’s home. At a distance, it looked like a hundred different vignettes strung together, but it was actually tales from A Thousand and One Nights.

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book?

“Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”

4) How long did it take you to write your novel? What was easier to write: the beginning or the ending?

It took me about four months to write The Wrath and the Dawn. For me, it’s usually easier to write the beginning of a novel.

5) What are your favorite books?

Oh, gosh, this is an almost impossible question for me! I love a lot of classics. Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, The Lord of the Rings, and A Moveable Feast come to mind. I’m also a big fan of anything by Isabelle Allende or Kahlil Gibran. For YA, I love Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy. In truth, this list could go on forever.

6) If you could, would you write a letter to Shahrzad? If the answer is yes, what would be the main theme of the letter?

I don’t know that I’d write her a letter for reasons I can’t divulge at the moment 😉 But I do think letters are wonderful to give and receive!


Thank you so much, Renee! It was so fun! So glad I was able to chat with you 😉


About the author

Renee Ahdieh lives in North Carolina with her husband Victor and their dog Mushu. Her YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, will be published on May 12th, 2015. In her spare time, Renee like to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of her characters.

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Interview: Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes

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I volunteered to interview this wonderful author for the Russian publishing house which is going to publish An Ember in the Ashes.
But I thought it would be interesting for everyone who excited to read this book, so here we go.

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Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


1) What inspired you to write An Ember in the Ashes?

As a child growing up in the desert, I was picked on and often felt like an outsider in my isolated home town. This made me feel both voiceless and powerless. My primary solace was reading, and my favorite books to read were fantasy novels.

Eventually, I found my voice through writing. When I decided to write a novel, my childhood inspired me: I knew that the book would be a fantasy because I’d always loved fantasy novels. And I knew that the characters would be people who, like my younger self, felt uniquely voiceless. But unlike my younger self, these characters would speak out and fight back.

2) Can you tell us how you became a published author?

Lots of hard work! I began writing my book in 2007 and spent 6 years on it. During this time, I built the world for my book, researched a ton and revised like crazy. When the book was done, I queried agents, and picked the one who I connected to best. She sold the book shortly after.

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? (If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book).

I like this quote and I don’t think it’s too spoilery: “Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

4) Could you say something to the future readers of your book from another countries?

First of all, I will be deeply honored if you take the time to read my book. Second, I hope it resonates with you. I hope you find that though EMBER was originally written in English, the themes of hope, courage, family and love, are universal.


Thank you so much, Sabaa!

If you want, you can follow her via

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Interview: Moriah McStay, author of Everything That Makes You

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No, I don’t get tired to of posting interviews with the wonderful authors. Because their books really deserve your attention.

Today is the day of the book with the most amazing plot I’ve ever seen.

You’ll definitely realize that this is very interesting.

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

And you’ll definitely realize that this is very beautiful.

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So now I represent Moriah, the creator of this amazing book, to you.

1) Were there any funny stories while you worked on Everything That Makes You? Or maybe, at that time, the book had a different name, which now makes you smile?

The first title of the book was Progressions of Fate, which is SOO horrible. I never loved it and willingly accepted input from my agent and editor. We tried out several titles before my editor sent me an all-caps email, late one Friday night. It just said “EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU!!!” It’s a line from a later chapter of the book, and is featured prominently in one of Fiona’s later songs.

2) What inspired you to write Everything That Makes You?

I was in an accident when I was a young child that left me blind on one eye. Growing up, I often wondered how that accident affected the person I was. I remember having conversations like this with friends in college. Which major—and insignificant—events changed the trajectory of our lives? And, if we could go back and change it, would we? I ruminated on this concept for ages. I wrote two other manuscripts (which weren’t very good, honestly) before I felt ready to tackle the project.

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? (If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book).

One line I love only makes sense in its particular scene. The line is “Not sure yet.” Since to explain the scene would be pretty spoilery, I’ll just say, it’s midway through the novel. Fiona’s at college, and she’s literally run into a boy who was outside her dorm room, listening to her play guitar. She was heading down to the cafeteria, and he tells her that’s where he was going, too. They have this awesome conversation and totally hit it off. The scene ends like this:

“So, I have a confession.”

Oh no. “What’s that?”

“I wasn’t going for coffee. I was heading for class.” He looked at his watch. “Which starts in five minutes.”

She laughed, feeling so, so fluttery. “You were being a stalker.”

The boy hung his head dramatically. “I know. Five minutes in and I’d already broken my first promise. It’s a bad start.”

“A bad start for what?”

He stood and began walking backward as Fiona stayed at the table. He backed nearly all the way to the automatic doors. They slid open, but he paused, those pretty green eyes still on Fiona. With a sly, uneven smile, he answered, “Not sure yet.”

It still makes me smile, no matter how many times I read it!

4) How long did it take you to write your novel? What was easier to write: the beginning or the ending?

Like I said, I sat on the idea for ETMY for years and years and years. When I finally started writing, it took about a year before I was ready to submit to agents. For ETMY and my other projects, I’d say the ending is always easier. You can’t write a real, edited beginning without it!

5) If right now someone told you that he can perform any of your three wishes, what would you then wish for?

Whew. That’s a tough one. As a mom, I’d probably use the first wish on my kids. I’d ask for my daughters to have long, happy, healthy lives ahead of them.

World peace would be a good one for #2, no? And then, I’d like to be able to fly.

6) If you could, would you write a letter to Fiona? If the answer is yes, what would be the main theme of the letter?

An interesting question. As her writer, my instinct would be to get all lecture-y at her, and THAT wouldn’t work out well. As the book ends, she’s on her way to figuring herself out. I don’t think she would need—or particularly want–my input. I think I’d leave her be.


From my own I can only add that I really look forward to meeting Fiona.

If you want, you can contact her via

Website: moriahmcstay.com
E-mail: moriahmcstaywrites@gmail.com
Twitter: @moriahmcstay
Facebook: Moriah McStay

And add her debut book on Goodreads.

Interview: Jasmine Warga, author of My Heart and Other Black Holes

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Yes, you read this right. I present to your attention another interview with a wonderful author, whose book comes out in 2015. The book, which I’ve been waiting for a very long time. The book I’m not going to wait that long again, because it goes through the month. Book with beautiful, charming and ironic title MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES.

You’ll understand when you look at this summary.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

 There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s  found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a   partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

And look at this cover.

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Hahaha, I was joking. This is not the final cover. I attach the final now and it is much more wonderful.

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Finally, you can enjoy this interview.

1) Were there any funny stories while you worked on My Heart & Other Black Holes? Or maybe, at that time, the book had a different name, which now makes you smile?

Sadly, I can’t think of many funny stories surrounding the writing process for MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES. It was written during a pretty dark period in my life–I was grieving the loss of a very close friend–and so I wasn’t in a very jovial mood. That said, the original title of the manuscript was much more emo-tastic and dramatic–THE HEAVINESS OF EMPTINESS–and I smile when I think about how I came up with the new title. I was sitting in my writing study, talking to my husband about how I was totally freaked out that I’d actually finished the book and that the only thing left to do was change the title because I wasn’t sure the original one was a very good fit for the overall tone of the book. I didn’t like that I was pretty sure my main character, Aysel, would hate the original title, citing that it was too dramatic and trying too hard to be literary and mysterious. So we brainstormed some ideas and jokingly I said: Aysel thinks she has a black hole of a heart, maybe I should just call it MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES, and instantly we both sort of smiled and knew that would be the title.

2) What inspired you to write My Heart?

I mentioned above the loss of my close friend and working on this book was a big part of my grieving process. People grieve in different ways and for me, creating something, writing this story, was, in part, my way of grappling with those feelings of loss. I also think that for a while I’d had this story trapped inside me. I’d wanted to write an honest story about the demon of depression, exploring the way it can distort the sufferer’s reality. Most of all, I wanted to write a book that honored the importance of friendship and love (in all forms, self, family, friendship, romantic), and advocated for empathy and understanding.

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? (If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book).

Oh, I don’t know if I have a favorite quote from my own book. It feels weird for me to choose one, so I’ll choose another quote that I absolutely love and will always love because my husband knew how much I loved this particular quote and used it when he proposed to me: “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”– The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I had that quote hanging in my college dorm room.

4) How long did it take you to write your novel? What was easier to write: the beginning or the ending?

About four months of frenzied writing and then another month of intense editing. The ending was definitely the hardest part for me. I always find endings to be difficult, as both a reader and a writer.

5) What are your favorite books?

So many and too many to list, but I’ve named a few below in no particular order:

1. Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block
2. Ariel, Sylvia Plath
3. The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson
4. Diving into the Wreck, Adrienne Rich
5. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
6. The Professor’s Daughter, Emily Raboteau

And so, so, so many more!

6) If you could, would you write a letter to Aysel and Roman? If the answer is yes, what would be the main theme of the letter?

I don’t know. This is sort of a difficult question to answer without spoiling the book, but I think I would just encourage Aysel to learn hard into self-love and self-acceptance and know that life is going to be full of ups and downs, but to trust in her ability to ride it out.


Thank you, Jasmine. I’m very flattered by the fact that I took an interview with you. You are an amazing person.

And I sincerely advise everyone to run to the nearest bookstore exactly one month later and buy this wonderful book written by Jasmine.

If you want, you can contact her via

Website: jasminewarga.com
E-mail: jasminewargabooks@gmail.com
Twitter: @jasminewarga
Tumblr: if the moon smiled

And add her debut book on Goodreads.

Interview: Francesca Zappia, author of Made You Up

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Many times I wrote a blog posts about 2015 year, which will be very full of all sorts of new Young Adult books that are worth to paying attention.
In my plan is to try and do as much as possible this year to be a good book blogger.
So I asking about interviews with a remarkable debut authors. And I continue to be impressed by the fact that they agree.

Today I post an interview with the wonderful Francesca Zappia, whose debut book called Made You Up. I’m so glad that I had such an amazing opportunity, because this books sounds like a new and absolutely unique voice in YA literature.

However, you will understand when you look at this summary.

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

And yes, to top it all this book has such a wonderful cover.

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I’m already enjoying this book.

So here we go.

1) Were there any funny stories while you worked on Made You Up? Or maybe, at that time, the book had a different name, which now makes you smile?

I do remember writing the bulk of the story in middle and high school, and my friends would read it in this massive red binder they had to carry around with them all day–it was really funny watching them lug that around with all their schoolwork! But maybe the funniest story I have is actually about the titles–the original title was Ask Again Later, which we had to change because another HarperCollins book was coming out with that title before mine (by the awesome Liz Czukas). So we started about a month-long title hunt. We came up with a huge list, but no other titles really encompassed what the book was about and how it felt, and by the end I was so frustrated I probably looked like a cartoon character with my eyes popping out of my head and steam blowing from my ears. Luckily, my editor and agent are fantastic, intelligent people, and when I told them about Sylvia Plath’s Mad Girl’s Love Song, they pulled “Made You Up” from there.

2) I really like your drawings! I would like to know from what age did you start to draw? And how long did you study for this result?

Thank you! I started drawing earlier than I started writing, I think…I began writing when I was eight, but I started drawing much earlier than that, probably when I was three or four. I mostly traced pictures, or tried to copy what I saw in books and on TV, but they weren’t very good (any three or four year old who can draw beautiful lineart is my hero!). It’s taken me a long time to get where I am now mostly because I’m lazy–just last month I FINALLY forced myself to learn proper human body proportions. I could be a lot better than I am now, but my problem is that when I need to get something out of my head, I write it down instead of drawing it. A lot more of my creativity and effort goes into bettering my writing than my drawing–unfortunately, because I have a lot of pretty stuff in my head that I’m just not good enough to draw or paint!

3) Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? (If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book).

My favorite quote from MADE YOU UP is not too spoilery, I don’t think. So, throughout the whole book, Alex is trying to figure out which parts of her world are real and which aren’t, and near the end, Miles says to Alex, “If nothing’s real, then what does it matter? You live here. Doesn’t that make it real enough?”

It’s my favorite because I think it doesn’t just encompass my thoughts on the whole story well, but just human perception in general. You don’t have to have a mental illness to perceive the world differently than the person next to you–we all do it, all the time, every day. You’ll never see the world exactly the way someone else sees it (though you might be able to come close), so all we ever do is live in our own worlds. But even if no one else sees them the way we do, they’re real to us.

4) If right now someone told you that he can perform any of your three wishes, what would you then wish for?

Any three wishes? Hm…well, I would wish for an end to world hunger, but then we’d have massive overcrowding issues, so I guess I’ll use my first wish to wish for viable space travel so human kind can go explore the universe and find new places to live and explore.

For my second wish, I’ll wish that we don’t completely destroy/enslave/terrorize any planets and peoples we come across out there in space, and they don’t destroy/enslave/terrorize us. Because I really want to live on a cool, peaceful planet.

And for my third wish: teleportation powers. Just for me, because driving and flying and various other modes of transportation make me very nervous. Also: How cool would it be to teleport?! You’d never have to go outside in winter!

5) What are your favorite books?

My absolute favorite book of all time is The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. I read it in third grade the first time and it’s only gotten better over the years. Plus, it was originally published by Greenwillow Books, the same HarperCollins imprint that’s publishing MADE YOU UP! Small world, right? I love the entire Harry Potter series, too, because I learned how to write from reading those books, and they made me want to write. In a broader sense, I love Stephen King books, because even though they can drag sometimes, when you’re done you walk away thinking, Whoa… WHAT did I just read?

6) If you could, would you write a letter to Alex and Miles? If the answer is yes, what would be the main theme of the letter?

Actually… I already did! Back in December of 2013, I wrote this letter to Alex and Miles for Casual Friday on the YA Misfits blog. The main point of the letter was my gratitude to them for existing, as strange as that sounds, because they’re the reason MADE YOU UP was written, and they’re the reason my agent and editor fell in love with the book. I talk about how much they’ve changed since I originally came up with them years and years ago, when I was eleven and I didn’t even know most of the basics of storytelling, and I talk about how much I hope readers love them the way I love them–as people with dreams and interests and flaws and goals in life.

I sincerely hope that after reading this interview, many will be interested in the book by Francesca, because it’s worth it.

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I want to thank Francesca many times. Thank you. Thank you.

If you want, you can contact her via

Website: francescazappia.com
E-mail: francescazappiabooks@gmail.com
Twitter: @ChessieZappia
Tumblr: The Lobster Tank
Goodreads: Francesca Zappia

And check out her DeviantArt page.

And add her debut book on Goodreads.