Amy Zhang: Falling into Place is an apology for the things I didn’t try to stop at high school

When you’re a book lover, you spend your reading life hoping to come across Those Books. The ones that grab you early and keep you reading. You know which books I mean. The ones where you feel like you can’t tear your eyes from the page. The books where you find yourself racing through to find out what happens, while at the same time wishing they didn’t have to end. The books you recommend to anyone that will listen.

For us, Falling into Place is one such read.We were lucky enough to chat with author Amy Zhang. At just eighteen years old, Amy has a bright and exciting future ahead of her and we’re very proud to be publishing her work.

Falling into Place small

 

This is your debut novel – what’s one thing about the publishing journey that’s surprised you?

I guess what surprises me most is just how big it is. I never really understood how much work goes into making a book—there are so many people involved! It’s amazing. Everyone says that writing is a solitary activity and publishing is the exact opposite, but I was never anticipated just how true that is. It made me realize that every book in every library or bookstore has been worked on a sweated over and loved before it even reached the shelves. That’s an absolutely mind-boggling amount of work, and I’m so grateful for it.

Were there particular songs you listened to while you were writing?

Definitely! One of the first things I do when I start working on a new project is to make a playlist. I’m really dependent on music—it’s really hard for me to concentrate without headphones. I actually had a few for Falling into Place—an initial one for drafting, and different ones for revisions. A few of the ones I listened to the most were:

Night Terrors by Wild Sweet Orange

The Thick and Thin by Imaginary Friend

Such Great Heights by Iron & Wine

Broadripple is Burning by Martgot & The Nuclear So and So’s

I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

New Slang by The Shins

Fear by OneRepublic

Skinny Love by Bon Iver

When You Break by Bear’s Den

Haunt by Bastille

Somewhere Only We Know by Keane

Bloom by The Paper Kites

 

We love the #100daysofFIP project taking place on instagram – tell us a bit about what goes into picking each quote and the picture that goes with it.

Thanks so much! When I started planning out #100daysofFiP, I wrote out a number of shots and paired them with quotes, but most of those shots just weren’t possible—I had “snow” written down multiple times, and it turns out that it’s pretty difficult to find snow in July where I live. I decided that the pictures in #100daysofFiP weren’t going represent the book, exactly—they would just be a visual for the isolated quote, and that opened up a lot of possibilities. Usually, I take the picture first, and match a quote to it later.

Falling into Place is emotional to read – was it emotional to write too?

Some scenes more than others. The Liam scenes in particular were very difficult for me to write, because they hit so close to home. My school has this horrible tradition of voting people on to dance courts as jokes, and I remember sitting in class and hearing courts announced and just kind of wincing every time. And how do you stop something like that? I was pretty average in high school—I was never really bullied, and I hope I never bullied anyone like Liz did. I had great friends and great teachers, but up until junior year or so, I never really thought about the fact that I sat around a lot. I watched a lot of crap happen and I didn’t do much to stop it, except push a pencil around, and Falling into Place is an apology for that.

If Falling into Place were made into a movie, who could you see playing the main characters?

Oh, gosh, I have no idea. I made the decision pretty early on to leave out physical descriptions of characters, so while I have a pretty good idea of what they look like, I’m curious as to how everyone else will imagine them. If Falling into Place were ever made into a movie, my only hope for the actors would be that they’re actually in their teens, rather than going on thirty!

 Do you have any quirky writing rituals?

I write in the bathtub—does that count? No water or anything, just pillows and beanbags and old fleeces. I also write in my closet. I think there’s something about small spaces that helps me concentrate.

 What’s one book you love that you always recommend to people?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Besides just being a beautiful book that highlights so many societal issues, it was the book that taught me to have an opinion, and more importantly, to not be afraid of it.

 If you could holiday in a fictional world of your choice, which world would you pick?

Laini Taylor’s Prague from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There’s something about it that seems so mysterious and intoxicating, like some of the magic from the fantasy world, Eretz, has bled into this fictional earth, and it makes it so much more attractive than our actual one. Plus, there’s a restaurant called Poison Kitchen where you can eat apple strudel on coffins. How cool is that?

What are you reading at the moment?

I recently received Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince as a graduation present. It’s one of those books that I’ve always meant to read but somehow never did, so now my younger sister and I are reading it out loud to each other, and we both love it.

 What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer?

Allow yourself to be terrible. Everyone writes bad things and makes mistakes. You’ll write awful stuff and more awful stuff and somewhere along the way, you’ll get better. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t ever give up.

Read the first chapter of Falling into Place here. Follow Amy on Twitter and Instagram. Check out the tumblr inspired by the book over here

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