Francesca Zappia: ASK AGAIN LATER

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today we’re talking to Francesca Zappia, author of ASK AGAIN LATER, coming from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication)

Well, I think I started writing when I was about eight? It was after I’d read my first Harry Potter book, and I realized writing books was a Thing real people did. And I was pretty terrible for a while, but I kept doing it because I liked it. I started querying agents around the same time I started high school, and finally last summer I signed on with my agent, Louise Fury, who I sometimes think would go on crusades for her favorite books. After that we revised, and revised some more, and finally went on submission.

Then HarperCollins happened. Which was amaaaazing, because ever since I began actually paying attention to which publishing houses published which books, HarperCollins has been one of my very top favorites. (And my imprint, Greenwillow, also originally published The Hero and the Crown, my favorite book of all time, which I just found out a few weeks ago and FREAKED OUT about.)

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

ASK AGAIN LATER is a YA contemporary novel about Alex Ridgemont, a seventeen-year-old girl with paranoid schizophrenia. In some ways it seems very contemporary in my head, and in other ways it’s just as weird as all my other ideas. Here’s the short summary from Goodreads:

Francesca Zappia’s debut 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 her Magic 8-Ball, her little sister, and a boy she thought was imaginary — that sometimes there really is someone out to get you.

I think the best part about it is the tone. When you say your book is about paranoid schizophrenia (or really any mental illness), people tend to assume it’s dark and twisted and depressing. I like to think the opposite is true about ASK AGAIN LATER. There are sad parts, and there are twisted parts, and there are certainly dark parts. But overall, it’s pretty upbeat. There’s a lot of humor, especially from Alex, who has an off-the-wall way of thinking about things. Some parts are really serious, and some are really silly. Which is kind of like life, I think.

You can add it on Goodreads!

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

I guess what I’m most excited about isn’t necessarily just about being a debut, but being an author in general. I’m dying to meet fans. I mean, I have CPs who give amazing critique, and I have friends who have read my book and liked it, but there’s never really been anyone who has been invested in the story the way fans get invested in a story, where they can sit and ask you question after question and talk to you about your world for hours on end. I cannot wait to talk to fans, however few or however many there are. (Isn’t this true for all authors? There’s nothing better than someone being as invested in your world as you are.)

Okay, okay, I’m also dying to go through the rest of the process. Seeing cover art, getting ARCs, holding a finished copy in my hands… that’ll be amazing, too.

What inspires you to write?

It’s kind of crazy how much stuff inspires me to write. Music is a big one. TV, movies, other books, phrases, words, certain times of day, specific scents, and especially procrastination. If I have a bunch of other things I need to do (like when I need to study for finals, for example) I have ALL THE INSPIRATION to write.

Something that also always inspires me to write is drawing. I do a lot of artwork for my stories, and sometimes all I need to do to get past writer’s block is draw a little bit. A lot of the stuff I have right now is for ASK AGAIN LATER, and you can find it on my DeviantArt page. (Okay, another thing I’m excited about as a debut/as an author: fan art!) Here’s one of my favorites that I’ve done:

Lobster Genius

Francesca Zappia is 20, lives in Indiana, and writes about pirates, aliens, crazy people, ghosts, skysurfing, nightmare hunters, underwater prisons, and anything else that catches her attention. She also likes to draw a lot. Her debut novel, ASK AGAIN LATER, is coming from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in Fall 2014.
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