Book Nerd Interview
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t know that I can pinpoint a specific moment, but sometime around the beginning of junior year I realized that I really, really did not enjoy school. I just felt like I’d had enough—it seemed so pointless to take math and science courses that I would never use, to spend Saturdays taking standardized tests that measured little more than how well I could fill in bubbles. It was monotonous and just, like, unbearably tedious, and I realized that this was potentially how I could feel every single day of the rest of my life if I decided to go into a career for which I lacked passion. Writing was the only thing I wanted to do, really wanted to do.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
So I had this art teacher that agreed to answer any one question I asked him due to this bet we had, and I decided to ask him to tell my friends and I about the five events that had most impacted his life. We ended up staying after school whenever we could—he was actually kind of a brilliant storyteller—to listen to his life story while we worked on various projects. He taught us that things happen for a reason, and that eventually, you’ll end up where you need to be.
In your new novel; Falling into Place, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
Absolutely! Falling into Place is about a girl named Liz Emerson, who steers her car off the road in an attempt to kill herself. It’s told in nonlinear flashbacks over the twenty-four hours or so that she’s in the hospital. Mostly, I tell people that it’s just a book about high school and all of things that happen in those years. It’s about wanting to grow up but not know how. It’s about being a friend and falling in love and feeling like the world revolves around you because you haven’t seen enough of it yet to know any different. It’s about living in the moment and making mistakes and trying to fix them and not doing a good job of it. It’s about learning how to be a person.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
“What time did you go to bed last night?
If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would go to the Nickelodeon studios in 2008 and sell my soul and maybe a kidney to make Zutara canon.
Otherwise, I might go back to the beginning of my senior year and tell one of my friends how I really felt about him. It took us forever to figure out that we both had feelings for each other. Or, I don’t, travel back to Sarajevo and stop the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. But probably the Zutara thing.
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.