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Amy Zhang

This Is Where the World Ends

Hello friends! Today is the day you can find my sophomore novel, This Is Where the World Ends, in stores!

Guys, this was an incredibly hard book for me. I have a lot of feelings about it. I want to blog about unlikeable characters and toxic friendships and why I made a few of the decisions I did. But I sat down to write those posts and–you know what? Today’s just not the day for it. Today I CELEBRATE and DRINK (water) and DANCE AROUND because my baby is on bookshelves! I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite things about this book, besides the book itself. Yeah, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But it was also one of the most rewarding, and it was often incredibly fun. Instagram Project Some of you might remember that I did something similar leading up to the release of Falling Into Place, and I loved it then, too. (Honestly? I just love Instagram. Follow me. ;D). Here are a few of my favorite shots:   IMG_1342 “I whirl around to meet his eyes–whoosh, shampoo commercial hair. Eyes glittering, light dimming, and just my voice, siren to sailor: ‘Come, my fellow ninja. We’re going on an adventure.'” Towards the end of last summer, my best friend and I dragged her younger sister to Washington Square Park in the 100-degree heat and spent all day taking pictures for this Instagram project. The set-up of this picture was actually her idea, and I love the way it turned out. IMG_0175 “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.” I snapped this shot right before I climbed five mountains. Yup. Five. Every year, my school organizes hiking trips to all 46 peaks of the Adirondacks, with the goal of getting a student on each peak. My group only technically covered two (the third missed the 4,000 ft. qualification mark by a couple hundred feet), but we also had to climb back over them. In hindsight, it was one of the best weekends of my life. But at the time I thought I was literally going to die. IMG_0153 “Someone had to show him that there was more to life than watching.” Taken on our way to McDonalds towards the end of the aforementioned photoshoot day, because we were dangerously dehydrated at that point. IMG_0322 “I always knew I’d make it to the top one day.” This picture was actually taken over a year ago with the Instagram project in mind (shocking, I know, but occasionally I do plan ahead). Over winter break, a couple of my friends and I went to our favorite stretch of beach on Michigan and risked frostbite for a few gorgeous shots. #noragrets FullSizeRender 11 “For her friends, she would have done anything. Anything.” This was one of my favorite pictures from our photoshoot day. The body language, the exhaustion, the heels…ugh. These two. <3 Also featuring the NYU Stern School of Business….but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   Doodling Janie keeps a journal, which she doodles in constantly throughout This Is Where the World Ends. One of the coolest things I got to do for this book was try my hand at illustrating. Since Janie’s journal entries are scattered throughout, my editor asked me to draw on a few corners as Janie might have. IMG_8209

The original sketches

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Aaaaand the final version! I’m really happy with how these turned out. I can’t wait for all of you to see the rest of the doodles!

Janie’s Art Projects

Janie keeps rocks on her person at all times, so I decided to paint some rocks as she might have. I used nail polish and sharpies, partly because these are the materials I could imagine her using, but mostly because I did this in my dorm and nail polish and sharpies were all I had.

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Janie spends a lot of This is Where the World Ends making a pair of wings out of fairy tale pages. I happened to be taking a sculpture class while editing, and decided to make a version of Janie’s wings myself. It’s a good thing I was editing, because it turns out making wings is a lot more labor-intensive than I thought.

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And now, the fun part. I want to give you these things. Well, not the wings. Those are broken in a dumpster somewhere, unfortunately…but if you wanted defaced copies of This Is Where the World Ends, swag, or painted rocks, enter below! xoxo

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Zadie Smith Told Me I was A Cute Little Boy and It Helped Me Understand Things

When I started writing, I was thirteen. I was deeply unhappy. I had a middle part and a pair of extraordinarily unflattering glasses. My music taste bordered on emo. I was pretty damn lonely because I was extraordinarily uncooperative when it came to making new friends. I’ve told this part of the story before. I moved, I hated it, I hated my parents, I hated a lot of things. I wrote a story about kids who were strong and thin and brave and happy. It was not passion. It was living vicariously. It was a safe space.

At night I dreamed of getting published, going on book tours, signing stacks upon stacks of books, rolling in money, having fans. During the day I went to school and thought terrible things about just about everyone around me. In the afternoons I wrote furiously.

Six years later I’m a month away from publishing my second book. I have toured. I have signed. I have made money. And it has given me so much anxiety that earlier today I cried because I couldn’t figure out how to upload the back of my bookmark.

Look, I know how incredibly fortunate I’ve been at every step of the way. I ended up with an endlessly supportive agent and an endlessly supportive publisher. But I am still terrified. I am scared of my professional social media accounts. I am scared of everything I’ve missed in my two (three?) year hiatus from said social media accounts. I am scared of the mob mentality on the internet and the way it tears people down over small missteps, because I have made so many small/medium/fucking huge missteps. I am scared of the fan mail in my inbox because I’ve let it stack up so much and for so long that I can’t even log in without feeling nauseous, which is horribly ungrateful of me and horribly unfair to everyone who’s written. I’m scared of being that sophomore that wrote a book. I am scared of everyone I’ve disappointed and everyone I will disappoint.

I am afraid because I am nineteen years old and I have an essay due tomorrow that I have barely started. I have a book due in a few months that I’ve also barely started. I’m afraid because last year, on a Saturday night, I got an email from someone who read my book, saying she was going to commit suicide. I was drunk and the suicide hotline I called in a panic put me on hold. I’m afraid because someone else emailed me calling me a role model. Look, I sleep through class pretty regularly. On purpose. I shop excessively when I’m stressed. I just bought a pair of fishnets I’ll never wear (just kidding. I’ll definitely wear them. But I absolutely did not need them). Sometimes when I’m feeling especially terrible I read my one-star reviews on Goodreads just for kicks. Guys. Don’t be like me.

I’m truly terrified that I will never finish writing anything again.

I think what it comes down to is this: last semester, Zadie Smith saw one of my baby pictures while flipping through my journal and told me I was a cute little boy. A little before that, she gave a talk about the philosopher Martin Buber, who wrote that there are two kinds of human relationships: I-Thou and I-It. Mostly you have I-It relationships: an encounter, not a real meeting but two concepts bumping into each other to say, hi, how are you today? It is a monologue, not a dialogue. And then there are I-Thou relationships, which are true and rare and authentic. In 2014 Falling Into Place came out and all of a sudden the I-It relationships I had outnumbered the I-Though by far, and I got overwhelmed. I’m easily overwhelmed. This should surprise no one, least of all me. I have never handled expectations well. Pressure shuts me down far more often than it motivates me. I’m not the sort of person who handles an abundance of I-It experience well.

And the difficult thing here is that I am grateful for these relationships. I understand how infinitely lucky I am to have them at all. But this is still something I decided I wanted at thirteen, newly in love with my safe space. I didn’t understand what I was signing up for. And it’s not that I’ve fallen out of love with writing–I haven’t. But I am vaguely terrified every time I open Word. And I love vegan Instagrams. I love Selena Gomez’s new album. I love the radio show I have with my roommate. I love bathroom selfies. I like taking pictures. I love chia pudding. And guys, I really, really like college. I love being here. I love my I-Thou relationships here.

So, that’s about it. I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I’m sorry I’ve been basically unreachable for two years. I’m going to try very, very hard to revive my various social media accounts. I have an Instagram project for THIS IS WHERE THE WORLD ENDS, which I just now realized is supposed to start today (plz go like my insta thx). I’m working on some other marketing things. And most of all I’m trying to understand that it’s okay to be afraid of I-It encounters, so long as that fear no longer paralyzes me.

 

RELEASE DAY!!!

It’s here! It’s F I N A L L Y HERE!!!

IT’S RELEASE DAY!!! IT’S FALLING INTO PLACE’S RELEASE DAY AND

AND

EVERYTHING IS

FALLING

INTO

PLACE.

Okay. Deep breaths. So, mostly I wanted to write this to thank you–yes, YOU–for being here. For reading this blog back when fifteen-year old Amy had just found her fabulous agent, when she really had no understanding of the publishing industry or of how completely it would change her life. For sticking with me through the angst and rejections and general whining. Or for visiting for the first time, maybe laughing at the .gif choices. Or for falling (FALLING!) somewhere in between. You–YOU–are wonderful. It’s very late, and this is going to be a brief post because I have an early class tomorrow (BECAUSE I AM A SILLY, SILLY PERSON), but thank you. Thank you so, SO much. Editors, agents, publicists. Marketing directors, editorial team, rights. Booksellers, librarians, bloggers, critics, readers. Everyone who saw this book at the beginning and took a risk on it. Everyone who spread the word, who took the time to read it and like it and tell others about it. I can’t thank you enough, but let me try…

WITH A GIVEAWAY!!!

Look! Look! Look! Please ignore my dirty dorm floor!

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Defaced/annotated copies! #100DaysofFiP! SWAG!!!

FIRST PRIZE: Annotated and defaced copy of FALLING INTO PLACE, complete set of #100DaysofFiP, swag.

SECOND PRIZE: Defaced copy of FALLING INTO PLACE, swag.

THIRD PRIZE: Defaced copy of FALLING INTO PLACE.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below! And once again, thank you. So much. xoxoxoxo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FALLING INTO PLACE Swag!

It’s here and it’s BEAUTIFUL! I have bookmarks, bookplates, and postcards designed by the wonderful and crazy-talented Amber at Me, Myshelf, and I. What do you guys think?

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I, for one, am in love. If you’d like a signed bookmark or postcard (or both!), fill out the form below! And–still not counting–in forty-two days, you can buy the actual book! WHAT.

#100DaysofFiP Week 2

There are only 86 days until FALLING INTO PLACE is out in the world! What?! Week 2 pictures of #100daysofFiP are below. Day 92 might be my favorite this week–it’s also one of my favorite lines in the book. What about you? Which ones do you guys like?

 

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92 days: “And my heart will beat for someone who deserves it.”

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91 days: “And then there is Matthew Derringer, who is just the slightest bit disappointed, because he has already ordered flowers for the funeral.”

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 90 days: “Wednesdays were important to them. Wednesdays were theirs.” (HINT HINT)

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 89 days: “Suddenly, the trees ended…”

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 88 days: “When she threw her head back, she could see the sky bending away from her, and it seemed closer than usual.”

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 87 days: “Death, unfortunately, is not in the business of lending wings.”

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86 days: “Our breaths carry our dandelion wishes higher, higher, until they become the clouds we watch.”

#100DaysofFiP Week 1

Week 1 of #100daysofFiP is complete! This week’s pictures are below, along with daily excerpts from FALLING INTO PLACE. Are you following? You can follow me on Instagram @amyzhangbooks for daily updates. I also usually post to my FALLING INTO PLACE Pinterest board and to Twitter.

Let me know what you guys think in the comments! xoxo

 

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100 days: “She is human and bound by the same laws of nature–gravity, in particular–as everyone else. Try as she might, she will never grow wings.”

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99 days: “He…just looks at it all, the final diary of a dying girl.”

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98 days: “[We dreamed] until our dreams came true.”

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97 days: “Today, I wear a pink sequined dress. I have the hair of her favorite doll and a pair of shoes she’s designing herself.

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96 days: She walked in time to some indie singer, who called her beautiful and stronger, stronger, stronger.

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95 days: “Within the walls of Meridian High School there is a hush like smoke, like smog.

 

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94 days: “And suddenly it’s very clear to her that every action is an interaction, and everything she has ever done has led to something else.”

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93 days: “Soon, we will get bored and put the chalk away, but right now, we are happy. We draw. We sing.”

BEA Recap!

My belated BEA recap! I have finally gotten over my BEA hangover and I’ve done that graduating thing and and now AMY IS A FREE ELF.

Okay, so on Thursday morning, I started and finished packing and didn’t forget anything but my blazer, and this was probably the most impressive thing I’ve ever done. Seriously, if I have ever truly deserved a sticker, it would be for this. Around noon, our driver (WE HAD A DRIVER. Like, he wore a SUIT and everything) showed up. He tried to take my suitcase. I thought he was trying to shake my hand, so I kind of forcibly grabbed his fist, and then I was like “Oh god why I am so bad at being human HELP.” Anyway. We got on the plane. I read Kresley Cole’s ENDLESS KNIGHT and developed a crush on Death.

That night, I went to the YA Author and Blogger Party, which was SO MUCH FUN. I got to meet so many Twitter friends, and some pretty amazing people I hadn’t previously known. Also, THERE WERE CUPCAKES WITH COOKIE DOUGH INSIDE. INSIDE THE CUPCAKES. COOKIE DOUGH. Eventually, I made it back to my hotel, which had easily the best showers I’d ever had pleasure of falling in (I’d had this genius idea of wearing five-inch wedges and couldn’t feel my feet. Don’t laugh).

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The view from our hotel. Not half bad, right?

 

And the next morning: BEA! JAVITS! I met with my fabulous publicist and the Harper crew for breakfast, which I forgot to eat because a) Jason Segel is hot and just OMG, b) Carl Hiassen was hilarious, c) Mem Fox is quite literally the coolest person ever, and d) Jeff Kinney is pretty freaking awesome.

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Jason Segel speaking at the Children’s Breakfast.

 

Then I got to watch the Harper galley drop, which was crazy. Watching people take FALLING was just so surreal–like, it actually exists outside of the word doc on my computer? What? Also, SO MANY BOOKS.

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FALLING on the slideshow thingy at the HarperCollins booth

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 Harper galley drop!

 

Then I headed over to one of  the green rooms to get ready for my panel with Becca Fitzpatrick, Amanda Maciel, and Kresley Cole, and moderated by the lovely Aubrey Parks-Fried from Epic Reads. I was nervous and starstruck, my palms were sweating swimming pools, and it’s really a testament to how nice they all are that they didn’t pull away or grimace or anything when I shook their hands. Jason Segel stopped by for a bit in the beginning. See how nonchalant I sounded there? That’s how nonchalant I was when I looked up and saw him standing in the back.

…wait, no, actually I forgot the English language. Whatever.

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Left to right: Aubry Parks-Fried, me, Amanda Maciel, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Kresley Cole. Look, you can practically see my swimming pool palms in the picture!

 

 

So, a few microphone issues aside, the panel was really laid back and a lot of fun. Especially after I remembered the how to say words. Honestly, I’m still trying to convince myself that it actually happened. There were, like, people there. And they, like, listened to me say things. Hopefully I didn’t sound too much like an idiot?

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Post-panel pic with these lovely ladies. My face says “normal” but my eyes say “FANGIRLING SO HARD.”

 

After that, we got lunch and headed over to my signing. The week before BEA, I kept having this nightmare during which I’d get to my signing table and wait and wait and…tumbleweeds. No one. That didn’t happen at the actual signing (THANK GOD).  The line was actually already forming when I headed over to the Green Room a bit early, so, I mean–like, there was a line, so it already exceeded my expectations. It was crazy and so much fun (apologies to anyone who got one of the loopy scribble copies…oops). I was so freaking nervous and it turned out to be so much freaking fun.

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* loopy scribble*

I got to walk the floor with my agent for a while after that, which was amazing because I had been lusting over BEA for years. I would stalk the hashtag every May, and now I was HERE. I got ARCs and met people and I didn’t even trip once. Later, we headed to the ABA lounge for the Indies Introduce reception and met with some booksellers, many of whom seemed genuinely excited for FALLING, which blew my mind. These were the people who would actually put the book into the hands of readers. It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around–I definitely haven’t managed it yet.

 

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ARCs at the ABA lounge. Also my face.

And then my editor took me to see an early screening of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS! It was so, SO good. They gave us special tissue packets and I sobbed audibly into them. John Green, Nat Wolff, Josh Boone, Elizabeth Gabler, and a few of the screenwriters (I think?) stopped by afterwards to do a Q&A, and I alternated my crazy OH-MY-GOD-IS-THIS-REAL-LIFE stare between John and Nat (we are on a first name basis now because I’m pretty sure we made eye contact. EYE. CONTACT).

SO YEAH. THAT HAPPENED.

Basically it was the greatest two days of my life and I still have not recovered from my FEELS. Okay? Okay. Now go get your tickets for the movie. GO. NOW.

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Bonus: that graduation thing

#100daysofFiP

HELLO. Guess what today is?

TODAY MARKS EXACTLY ONE HUNDRED DAYS UNTIL FALLING INTO PLACE COMES OUT!!! *CONFETTI*

Woohoo! To celebrate, I’ve decided to do a FALLING INTO PLACE photo project. Basically, what’ll happen is this: every day, I’ll post a picture and a line from FALLING INTO PLACE on Instagram with the hashtag #100daysofFiP. I’ll recap the week every Sunday. I’ll also be cross-posting on Twitter, Facebook, etc. So if you want a sneak peek of FALLING, follow along! It’ll be fun. I promise.

Without further ado…here’s the link to today’s picture and sentence(s): http://instagram.com/p/ot5CEhOleO/

I’m Feeling Lucky

Last year at this time, I was waiting to announce my book deal. FALLING INTO PLACE was in between titles. I was euphoric every time I thought about the fact that my baby book was going to be a real book, a book that sat on bookshelves, a book that people would hold and read and maybe even love. I was working off the sleep deck that resulted from getting up at ungodly hours every morning to write. My hair was twenty-four inches long. I was getting ready to take what would hopefully be my last SAT (it wasn’t).

Two years ago at this time, my agent and I were just getting ready to submit my YA fantasy, WILDFLOWER. Remember WILDFLOWER? I was halfway through high school. I was just starting to get to know my critique group. I was working on another fantasy about a nameless girl and a lost boy and wolves. Somewhere, jotted down in one of my idea folders, was a line about a girl who explained her suicide in terms of Newton’s laws of motion.

Three years ago at this time, I had just finished drafting my query. I was going to send my first one on the last day that I was fourteen. I had just finished freshman year, and it hadn’t been as horrible as everyone made it out to be. I still didn’t like Wisconsin. It was getting too hot too quickly, and the world smelled like cow manure. I closed myself in my closet every day to write. Maybe because I wasn’t distracted there. Maybe because in the dark, I could pretend I was somewhere else.

Four years ago at this time, I had just finished my first manuscript. It was about five kids who saved the world from villains based off of kids in school I didn’t like. It was bad. More importantly, I had learned to acknowledge that it was bad. And more important still—I had decided not to give up. I was going to keep writing.

Five years ago at this time, I was clueless. I didn’t know that I was about to move to Wisconsin, didn’t know that the move would make me so determined to be miserable. I thought I would grow up and go into the math or science field. Maybe both. All I knew about writing was that I wasn’t good at it. When we got our final report cards that year, one of my friends looked over and was surprised. “I can’t believe you scored higher than me in English,” she said. “I’m better at the, you know, creative stuff. And you’re better at math and stuff.”

I’ve been reflecting on all of that a lot this week. I’ve seen a few reviews of FALLING already. I’ve seen Waiting on Wednesdays. I’ve seen that people are looking forward to reading it, and it blows me away. It doesn’t seem real—ever. I say I can’t even a lot, too much, because I. Cannot. Even. I can’t wrap my mind around how freaking lucky I feel. I can’t comprehend any of it—I see those snapshots of my life above and I can’t entirely connect them. Like. What happened? How?

This year, right now, I’m packing for BEA. I’m getting ready for my panel. I have pens for my signing. I’m filling out my housing information for college. I’m graduating on Sunday. I’m terrified to leave. I miss my friends already. Sometimes I hold my ARC while I watch a movie or sit around, and I flip through it and look at my name and think, holy. Freaking. Crap. I still have doubts, I still have secrets, I am still incoherent on a regular basis.

I am very happy. I like who I am. They say that doesn’t happen a lot in high school—maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t, but either way, I’m lucky.

#MyWritingProcess Blog Tour

Hi everyone! WOOOT NEW WEBSITE!!! What do you guys think? Isn’t Tessa Elwood BRILLIANT?

So the lovely Chessie Zappia tagged me for the #MyWritingProcess blog tour, and I was supposed to post this yesterday but I forgot because I am TERRIBLE. But…um, better late than never? Right?

What am I working on?

…to be totally honest, I’m mostly working on graduating right now. I haven’t really gotten the chance to just sit down and write in SO FREAKING LONG, and I get all crabby when I don’t get to write, so basically I’m constantly raging these days. But I’m working on yet another outline/draft of THIS IS WHERE THE WORLD ENDS, my contemporary WIP about a girl and a boy who make a bet over whether people in general get miracles or apocalypses. I’m also worldbuilding STORYWEAVER, a fantasy set in a castle that sits at the top of a waterfall, in a ridonculously pretty notebook. And still brainstorming MEMENTO MORI, a contemp about a girl with HIV who kidnaps her grandma and takes a road trip with her best friend. And counting down the days to FALLING INTO PLACE’s release, of course (112 DAYS. NOBODY PANIC).

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I think what sets FALLING INTO PLACE apart at first glance is the narrator. Writing through an imaginary narrator is the coolest–it opens up so many possibilities. Time isn’t strict, order is up for interpretation.  It’s was so fun and so freeing to write, and I think it’ll make for a very different reading experience as well. But beyond that, I think what sets FALLING apart are the characters. I know I’m biased, but I really do love these characters, and I also understand how damn unlikable they are at times. I wrote a book about bitches, guys. They aren’t the best people in the world. They just aren’t, but I wanted to make sure that they were people that readers could cheer for regardless. I hope I succeeded.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I have something to say about it. FALLING INTO PLACE is about high school and bullying and good friends and bad friends and everything you overhear in the hallway. It’s everything I wanted to say during high school and didn’t. THIS IS WHERE THE WORLD ENDS is about equality and slut-shaming and victim-blaming…um, everything I wanted to say during high school and didn’t (also, for this one, I have this Paper of Rage titled “I Need to Write This Book Because,” and it’s covered in all-caps and venting). STORYWEAVER, on the other hand, just intoxicates me. I love worldbuilding. I’m making up the religion for the world right now, writing myths and variations and children’s bedtime stories, and it’s, like–I get drunk off that stuff. I love it.

How does my writing process work?

I usually start with a blank sheet of paper. I write a one-sentence summary of the idea, usually. And then I start drawing arrows–the characters appear, the plot develops, lines of dialogue start popping into my head. From there, I start making an outline. I usually make chapter-by-chapter outlines…until I get to halfway-ish point of the book. That’s where I start getting lazy and impatient to actually WRITE. So I do.

And it’s that easy. The words always flow and the characters behave and it just works.

LOL JK IT’S NEVER LIKE THAT.

There’s a lot of coffee. A lot of chocolate. Usually some tears. Usually some throwing of nearby objects and pouting. Writing is damn hard. It’s also completely worth it.

I draft using Microsoft Word 2000. It still has the little paper clip dude. I have 2013, but I rarely use it. For STORYWEAVER, I’ve been using Scrivener. I make a schedule. I do my best to stick to it. I give myself stickers when I reach goals. When I revise, I always start with a blank document. And then I revise again. And again. It goes to critique partners. I revise. It goes to my agent. I revise. And then it starts all over again.

Next week on the blog tour:

Stephanie DiazTwenty-one-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her debut novel when she should’ve been making short films and listening to class lectures at San Diego State University. When she isn’t lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fan-girling over TV shows. Visit her online at www.stephaniediazbooks.com.