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Amy Zhang

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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

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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.

 

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If You Give an Author Some Chocolate

…to encourage her to revise, she’ll eat it.

She’ll eat it slowly because there is an art to eating chocolate bars. She’ll try to revise while holding the chocolate bar in one hand, but realize that she can’t revise without proper music.

If you let an author look for proper music, she’ll decide that her normal revising playlist simply isn’t good enough, and she will use up a good half an hour trying to develop a new one before finding the perfect one on 8tracks.

If you give an author a perfect playlist, she’ll sit at her desk and gush about how ABSOLUTELY PERFECT it is to anyone who will listen (IT IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT). Eventually, she’ll try to revise, but she’ll drop her chocolate bar and leave an awful little smear on her manuscript. So she’ll go to the bathroom closet in search of Clorox wipes, and find a spider instead.

If you let an author find a spider, she will scream. Loudly.

Once she settles down, she’ll want to kill the spider. It’ll jump and disappear off to some secret spider lair in her house to plan her later demise, and she’ll scream a bit more before she remembers that she’s supposed to be revising. But she’ll realize that she clearly can’t revise while holding a chocolate bar in one hand, so she’ll open up an internet browser and look for a Halloween costume.

If you let an author loose on the internet to look for a Halloween costume, she will certainly find herself looking at books instead within five minutes, and eventually she’ll go downstairs in search of her credit card.

If you give an author a credit card, she will buy ALL THE BOOKS.

If you let an author buy ALL THE BOOKS, she’ll soon realize that she has blown way, WAY too much money in one night, and freak out. But she really wants the books…and that reminds her that she has her own book to finish revising.

But she still hasn’t finished her chocolate bar.

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ARC Giveaway! (but not here)

Guys! Ari Susu-Mago the Wonderful is giving away her ARCs from BEA!!!

http://fuzzymango.wordpress.com/

There are sixteen wonderful books up for grabs, so go check them out! Or don’t. *cough* I REALLY want to win this, guys. 😀

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An Interview with Yours Truly

Hi, everyone! I got interviewed this week over at the Teens Can Write, Too! blog, so if you’re interested, please check it out! Here’s the link:

http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/if-you-had-an-agent-at-15/

It’s got some false advertising, though…I literally turned sixteen the day John posted the interview. Look at me, lying about my age already. I’m off to go look for gray hairs and wrinkles now.

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Word Watchers (My MS’s Diet Plan)

I know, I know, I promised to post the second part of my querying rant last week…but I got caught on other (less fun) stuff. Exams are coming up, tennis preseason is grueling, clubs need to be wrapped up, newspaper articles need to be planned for next year and new staff must be chosen, church functions have to be taken care of for the summer, piano competitions need to be prepared for, and then there’s jazz band concerts and AP homework and summer job forms…gah. I’m tired.

So. I know I promised more about the querying process–and it’ll come, hopefully sometime soon. But recently, my agent informed me that I need to cut about 20-25K from my MS…which wasn’t a surprise, but it still left me feeling somewhat helpless as I stared at my overweight novel. So today I’d like to talk about the surgery table–the terrifying process of cutting words from the manuscript.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it makes you want to cry (not that I do, of course. *sniffle*) to slice away words you had invested so much time in. But I’ve known from the beginning that my novel needed to go on a Word Watchers diet and lose some of that padding…I’ve just been putting it off, telling myself that, you know, I’d do it later. Eventually.

My agent’s exact words to me: “Well, now it’s later!”

Me: “Aw, boo.”

So…here marks the beginning of a long, painful, unavoidable process of revising once again, only this time, I’m strictly NOT ALLOWED to add words. Seriously. I wrote it in all caps on my whiteboard and everything. This is happenin’, guys. (I’m hoping that if I keep telling myself that, it actually will happen. Positive reinforcement. Though, I got up yesterday morning at five to cut, and ended up adding a thousand words instead. But. Thinkpositivethinkpositivethinkpositive).

My posts might be a bit sporadic from now on, though. I was kind of hoping I’d have more time this summer, but after drawing up a Master Calendar (Summer Edition), it looks like between guiding my MS through a Word Watchers diet, working, summer gym, tennis practice, AP Chem/History/Lit homework, SAT/ACT studying…OH, COME ON. I JUST WANT ENOUGH TIME TO SLEEP IN FOR ONE DAY. ONE. IS THAT REALLY TOO MUCH TO ASK?!

Oh! And I almost forgot: I’ve recently started a new blog with the fabulous Mark O’Brien. Go check it out! forloveofya.blogspot.com

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