Thursday, April 11, 2013

Author Interview: Francesca Zappia

Hey guys!

I had the opportunity to interview someone I've been interested in for a long time, not only because she's awesome and hilarious, but because I'm dying to read her debut novel, ASK AGAIN LATER, coming in 2014 from Greenwillow/HarperCollins. I adore Chessie, and I'm sure you guys will too when you read about her success story below.

Tell us a little bit about your book, ASK AGAIN LATER, which snagged you your agent and super kick ass book deal with Greenwillow/Harper Collins.

Here's the Publisher's Marketplace summary: ASK AGAIN LATER is about the ultimate unreliable narrator, a schizophrenic teenage girl unable to tell the difference between reality and delusion who discovers -- thanks to a Magic 8-Ball, her little sister, and the boy she thought was imaginary -- that sometimes there really is someone out to get you.

Basically it's about my MC, Alex, trying to get a hold on her schizophrenia before it gets the better of her. Complications arise, as they are wont to do.

Yeah, I hate when that happens. How did you come up with the idea for AAL? Was it something that
came at you all at once, or did it develop over time as you drafted/revised?

It definitely developed over time. The very original draft, which was written back when I was in fifth or sixth grade and looks NOTHING like the book now, had nothing to do with paranoid schizophrenia. I'm not sure when that was thrown in the mix, but over time it became the focal point. (I'm not sure you can write about paranoid schizophrenia without it being the focal point. But I heard someone say that this story sounded like a plotting nightmare, which made me laugh, mostly because it does seem like it would be one. But it took so long for it to come together, and it's such a mix of so many different drafts and ideas and pictures that I never really felt like I was plotting it at all. 

So it was very much a develop-over-time book, which I think it needed to be. Its selling point is the two central characters, Alex and Miles, and I've been with them for so long that I know them inside and out. It wouldn't be half the book it is if they weren't so clear in my head.

I love that! Can you talk a little bit about the submissions process now that you're through it (WHEW). How many drafts did you go through before your agent submitted it to publishers? And can you say how long you were on sub for, even just vaguely? AND how did you handle being on sub without wanting to hurt someone?

I'm pretty sure I can, haha! I don't remember the exact number of rounds of edits we did--it was at least three or four--because some details were so delicate and precise and we wanted to make sure everything about the story was perfect before we sent it out. If I remember right, we were on submission for a little less than a month. I've heard horror stories about writers being on submission and that whole experience of waiting being an absolute nightmare, but my agent Louise was so great about updating me on what was going on, who was looking at the manuscript, and who was/wasn't interested that the waiting never felt so bad.

That being said, I feel EXTREMELY lucky and grateful that my submission went the way it did. Others don't have that sort of experience, and I know there are plenty who want to rip their hair out by the end of it.

That is AH-MAZING! So you just announced your deal (YAY!). Tell us about the deal itself.
How did everything go down? What was it like having to keep that a secret for so long?

Yay! I can tell you this deal was amazing, and also one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. HarperCollins made a house offer on the manuscript, and I had to pick between two of their imprints, both of which I loved. In the end, I decided to go with Greenwillow.

Keeping the secret was AWFUL. I know sometimes it takes months to get things moving, and it may take a while to be able to announce, but there were times when I got really frustrated about it, mostly because I was afraid me or someone else who knew about it would let something slip, and we'd all be in trouble for letting the news out too soon. So now that it's out, there's a lot of pressure off!

What's next for you? Are you drafting something new? Can you giveus a hint? ;)

I think it's safe to say I'm always working on something, haha. ASK AGAIN LATER is YA contemporary, but normally I'm a sci-fi/fantasy writer. I really love creating and exploring other worlds. Right now, I'm working on sort of a sci-fi/contemporary crossover that will hopefully appeal to both contemporary fans and sci-fi fans. That's all I can say for now, but I hope I get to share more info about it soon!

Thanks, Chessie! You can add ASK AGAIN LATER on Goodreads here, and follow Chessie on Twitter right over here

2 secret replies:

  1. I cannot wait to read this - and Chessie's story is definitely inspiring as a girl who is still struggling with a story that started in middle school (college student now). Congrats, Chessie!

  2. That's amazing that the story stuck with her for so long. It sounds really interesting. I'll be following her on Twitter so I'll know when the book drops. Congratulations! HarperCollins was my dream publisher back in the day.