Interview by Tricia Mae Salonga
A one-on-one with the woman behind "Falling Into Place" and "This Is Where the World Ends"
On the easiest and hardest thing about being a writer: “I guess the easiest thing is all of this, like being here and it’s so fun and engaging with your fans, there is nothing hard about it. It’s just so fun and rewarding. The hardest thing I think is writing (laughs) because there are just some days that are just so difficult and the last thing you want to do is just sit down with your computer and write something and even when you do nothing seems to go right. So like the hardest thing is just like you know like having those days."
On coping with "those days": "I honestly kind of don’t, I’m just like, 'You know what, it’s not working today... And I’m just going to do something else and come back to it later.' Find new inspiration, like go hang out with friends and literally go outside, find and enjoy the moment. That usually just makes me want to up pen and paper again, and it makes me want to write these feelings down and these sensations."
On the most interesting thing about creating books and the feeling of seeing the outcome: "The most interesting thing I've learned so far is how many people are involved in making a book and it’s so amazing, but there are so many cooks in the kitchen. It goes to the agent and to the editor then to the sales and marketing team to cover designers and people helping the cover designers, and there so much, so many people involved. To get what you’ve written into the hands of readers and that is so amazing, and it is such a complicated, but cool process. Learning about that has been super interesting. Actually, holding the book, is just… so weird, it is so strange and surreal and to be able to flip through it and see 'I remember writing this scene and remember how I rewrite this scene.' It’s so cool to final see it and see it at this point when there's nothing you can do to change it. It is like 'this is it' and it is kind of scary, but also a relief to just be done with it."
On the “Before” and “After” point of views of her novels: "Yeah... actually, I didn’t mean to [write them that way]. Falling into Place, I sent it to my agent, or my editor I think, and one of them said to me, 'You know it’s really cool, how you have this nonlinear narrative.' And I was, 'Oh I didn’t think of it as a nonlinear narrative,” to me this is the way how the story had to be told. With This Is How the World Ends, I actually wrote it as my first draft, it was linear and it was just Micah and it was a very straightforward book and it just did not feel right. Especially it's Janie and Micah, so for Janie not having a speaking section, it felt really wrong and we were also missing the half before and it was just difficult to write Micah, when he didn’t know what was going on before, so yeah… that’s how it happened."
On the pressure working on her second book: "This Is Where the World Ends was a very difficult experience. I was like a freshman in college, when I was revising it. Earlier that year Falling Into Place came out, I was on tour for that and was not at school, and like all of my friends were, you know... making memories and doing summer campus and I didn’t get to do that. I had a little bit of a hard time. The pressure is there and with the first book, you were writing it for yourself and the second one you know people are going to read it. (laughs) So yeah there was definitely pressure that I felt, but there’s always pressure in writing and it’s just like learning to deal with that kind of pressure. It motivates you to do better."
On the issues talked about in her books: "A lot of it are the stuff I was going through and it was the stuff I saw my friends go through. I felt like high school was such a complicated age and you’re just self-destructive sometimes even if you don’t need to. There are days, that you know your friends are doing without you and there’s that sense that “am I not good enough or not pretty enough to be here?” and I think everyone felt that way, so it was easier to write about (giggles). I got my inspirations from my experiences."
On working on a new book: "Yes, I was just sitting there writing it. (laughs) No title yet… no release date yet… I am excited for it though. I think Falling Into Place I wrote out of, like, self-exploration, like you need to figure something out and This is Where the World Ends came out like it’s a place of frustration and you know. Anger and fear from two different worlds and for this third one it’s really fun. It’s really fun because it feels like it's coming out of a place of like love and celebration for my family and friends and yeah it’s so much fun."
On the advice she'd like to give to aspiring writers: "Yeah I think my advice is to embrace not knowing and that it’s great not to know sometimes. There is so much time to figure it out, there is so much time to explore things and people are going to tell you that you have to do things now and there’s this immediacy and a fear, because of that immediacy, but there’s so much time (laughs) to actually figure things out and try new things. I think embracing the fact of not knowing what’s going to happen and that the future is something that you don’t get to notice is such a beautiful thing. Take risks, do stupid things, and learn from them."