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Christina Reads YA

"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis

Interview & Giveaway: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

I've got a special treat for y'all today. A wonderful interview with Francesca Zappia, the author of MADE YOU UP, which is a 2015 spring debut title that you've already seen me rave about, oh, multiple times. You, too, can rave if you win the awesome giveaway in this post...

Release Date: May 19, 2015
Source: Edelweiss & ARC
Published by: Greenwillow

Made You Up - Francesca Zappia | Goodreads

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

First off, you can read my previous interview with Chessie, in which we discuss the portrayal of mental health in YA, comparisons to her novel, her favorite scenes to write, what she thinks readers can expect from her work, and what books define her as a reader.

I've already read and LOVED Made You Up, and you'll be able to read my review on April 14th, but this comes first. Without further adieu, let me welcome Francesca Zappia, author of Made You Up, to Christina Reads YA. Here's our interview, with a fantastic giveaway to follow.

A.) For those who are unfamiliar with Made You Up, do you have an elevator pitch for the book?

Girl with paranoid schizophrenia is determined to get through her senior year of high school unscathed; boy from the past shows up with a monkey wrench.

B.) In the prologue, you introduce the idea of "the lobster tank" and an old childhood memory and/or delusion from Alex's PoV. Why lobsters in relation to paranoid schizophrenia?

The lobsters were actually from my own childhood. I used to do what Alex does in the book, which is stand at the lobster tank and wonder if there's some way she can free them. Alex spends a lot of the book comparing herself subconsciously to the lobsters in the lobster tank, and being trapped to await her unavoidable fate: "boiling"/being lost completely to her illness. The thing about the lobsters is that they don't understand where they are or what's happening to them, because they're lobsters; Alex questions, too, if she can ever fully perceive the truth of the world around her.

C.) Similarly, in the synopsis, we are told that Alex, ready to fight her delusions, is armed with her magic eight ball and camera. Why a magic eight ball?
Magic Eight Balls are so innocuous. When you're not using one they just seem like a fun, nostalgic toy, but when you start asking it questions it immediately feels like it takes on its own voice and life; sometimes it tells you want you want to hear, sometimes it smacks you upside the face with negative answers, sometimes it mocks you with non commitment.

D.) And the last of this question type, sorry, trying to avoid spoilers - Made You Up has several references to Germany and Nazis. My kidlit professor once pointed out how often references to WWII seemed to crop up in literature, so I'm curious as to why you included them in MYU.
I agree, references to WWII and Nazis crop up all the time not just in literature but in television and movies as well. The references to Germany and Nazis in MYU all spawn from the close relationship Miles had with his grandfather (who was a pilot in the Third Reich's Luftwaffe), and from the way Miles's classmates see and treat him. Miles was always German--I included it because I love Germany, and I find it an interesting and beautiful place--but I saw a lot of people in my own high school throwing around the word "Nazi" as if it was some kind of funny evil creature that only popped up in movies. So many Germans feel they can't express a love for or pride in their country because of what's happened in the past. Miles's classmates call him "the Nazi," a term with a weight Miles feels very acutely, and Miles learned to hide his Germanness to keep himself safe. Much more skilled writers than I have taken on the difficult topics of genocide and oppression that spawned from Nazi actions during WWII. I feel it would have been distasteful and out of place to relate those to anything happening in MYU, so I focused on this other facet instead.

E.) What is the thing you most hope to have gotten "right" in MYU?

The characters' experiences. Judging by responses to the book so far, your mileage may vary on your perception of the accuracy of Alex's illness and Miles's (possible) autism, but I hope they always act and react believably, and take readers on a journey that feels true to who they are and what the story is.

F.) And an oft-asked question in interviews, which character are you most like?

Oh, Miles, definitely. I'm not as positive as Alex or as friendly as Tucker, and a lot of Miles's social issues come from my own. I think Miles is who I actually am on the inside, and Tucker is kind of what I look like on the outside.

G.) What has been your most gratifying or surprising - or both - experience as an author thus far?
It's definitely been the response to the book, and how supportive so many people have been. Readers, book bloggers, booksellers, other authors--the genuine helpfulness of people in the book and YA communities honestly surprises me every time. I wasn't brought up to expect a lot of help in what I do, so I appreciate everything anyone does, even if it's just mentioningMYU in a tweet, or saying they're excited to read it.

H.) I'm always looking for book recommendations and I'm sure other readers are as well. What have been some of your favorite books that you've read recently? Or, what have been your favorite fellow 2015 debuts?
Most recently I read THE MIME ORDER by Samantha Shannon, the second in the Bone Season series, and it really drew me in to the series! As for 2015 debuts, though, in this past month or so I've read Ilene Gregorio's NONE OF THE ABOVE, an amazing book about a girl who finds out she's intersex; MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, Adam Silvera's debut pitched as a YA Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; ZEROBOXER by Fonda Lee, an absolutely awesome YA sci-fi about zero-gravity boxing with some delicious world building and a tight plot; and SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, which just about everyone has been talking about, and yes, I can confirm it is cute enough to make you barf sparkles.

I.) Can we have a hint as to your next project?

I'm working on another contemporary book right now, but ideally it will be a lead-in to my fantasy and sci-fi stories. Actually, MADE YOU UP was kind of an outlier--I loved Alex and Miles enough to write their story, but I don't normally do contemporaries! One of my favorite things is getting deep into world building, and while contemporary stories have their own brand of world building, SF/F is what I really love.
You can find Chessie many other places: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr |GoodreadsDeviantArt (from which I got the artwork in this post & copyright goes to Chessie). You can pre-order MADE YOU UP at a variety of bookstores: iBooks | Indigo |The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Amazon & more.
And y'all are in for a true treat. Chessie has taken the time to annotate an ARC, and one of y'all has the opportunity to read (and review?/ramble about?) Made You Up, with Chessie's lovely annotations at your side, before the book gets released. INT, ends 04/30/15.
If you don't want to enter the giveaway, still let me know what you thought of Chessie's responses. Have you read and liked any of her recent book recommendations? Are you planning on reading Made You Up soon?