Monday, April 6, 2015

Interview & Giveaway: 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 ado, 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 mentioning MYU 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?


  1. I loved the idea of the book - paranoid schizophrenia? Not really an everyday pick-up for a book, so cool an ideia this! And loved the interview, so, I just need this book... now ;)

  2. The synopsis sounds very original, and something I might like. The cover is what really interests me though. It's very interesting, kinda looks like very watery runny paint. Thanks for the giveaway :)

  3. Sorry for the late reply back! It's been a crazy past two weeks but I'm finally done grad school so yay! I liked this one and was never really sure whether to believe Alex or not; it kind of goes nicely with the schizophrenia theme actually. If I could have changed one thing though, I would have gotten rid of the slight paranormal aspect in this one.

    P.S. About your comment related to Open Road Summer, I'm probably in the minority for not liking it. If you own it, you should definitely give it a try, but I obviously liked The Start of Me and You better.

  4. Schizophrenia has always interested me....not creepily XD I just thought it was fascinating. I even diagnosed my sister with it. I was mistaken. Turns out she's just moody. But the cover and synopsis of this book look and sound amazing. Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. I am so excited that this book highlights mental illness. I feel that it is a part of the diversity movement that has been seriously overlooked. I am excited to see the story from a unique character who still has problems that I can relate to. I also love stories with unreliable narrators. They are so easy to connect with!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. My mom had paranoid schizophrenia, so I've always been aware of it. I'd be interested in seeing how Francesca tackles the issue.

  7. Yes! I want to read this, this sounds absolutely brilliant. I'm definitely into reading more books about and based around mental illness, mostly because it's fascinating.
    I've heard of a couple of the books Chessie has recommended and will be adding them to my TBR.
    "I can confirm it is cute enough to make you barf sparkles." Honestly made me laugh out loud, can we be friends please?

  8. Schizophrenia is such a scary, debilitating disease for those who have it. It's also incredibly misunderstood. I'm excited to see a portrayal of schizophrenia that's empathic and shows how people with the disease are still, first and foremost, people. I'm also excited to meet Miles, now that I know more about him.


    Sarcasm & Lemons

  9. Lately' I've been trying to diversify my taste in books and I want to read more about mental illness. MYU seems really intriguing, plus it reminds me of Plath's poem, the one which says "I think I made you up inside my head", which is one of my favourites!

  10. Yaayyyy Chessie! So excited to finally see this book in stores/out in the wild! MYU is hands-down one of the best manuscripts I had the privilege to read before they were published. <3

  11. I've been anticipating this book to come out since I first heard about it a couple months back! I have read a couple other stories on schizophrenia and it has interested me since then. I would love to read the story that Zappia has brought her readers and to read more about the illness. Thanks so much for this giveaway!

  12. It's such a unique idea and one that hasn't been explored too much in YA. I'm very excited to read it!

  13. Ummm everything? The premise is absolutely incredible, I keep hearing the voice is AMAZING, and also I'm just really excited to see more mental illness representation in YA. And that cover is gorgeous. And I've been waiting for this book forever. (Okay, a couple years, but it's felt like forever.)

    Thanks for this awesome giveaway!

  14. I love her illustrations! Those are so cute!

  15. Everything about this book sounds amazing!
    ...and the cover is beautiful

  16. She's a talented author and artist (not that the two are exclusive).

  17. YOU'RE DONE WITH GRAD SCHOOL? yay, congrats!!!!

    By paranormal aspect you mean the scoreboard or the urban legends or? (trying to be vague so as to not spoil anyone here).

    And I don't think you're in the minority for liking TSoMaY better though :). Seems in line with what I've seen of other reviews.

  18. The cover made me very interested at first. I mean, it's absolutely gorgeous. Then I read the synopsis and the book sounds amazing. Plus, the author is the sweetest person ever

  19. The cover caught my eye immediately, and after reading the summary, I became even more intrigued.

  20. I have seen lots of publicity about this book and I'm hearing so many great things. It sounds like my kind of book!

  21. The cover is beautiful but I think the premise sounds so different and unique!

  22. I love author interviews like this one. It gives great insights into the book that readers otherwise wouldn't have. Great stuff! I look forward to seeing this book on the shelves of the libraries where I work and recommending it to teens. Thanks, Christina and Chessie! ^_^

  23. First of all,the characters and story sound wonderful and the cover looks gorgeous!Then,I just read your review,and you've totally convinced me to go for this book.All the more reason why I just added this to my TBR:)

  24. Thank you :)

    The scoreboard incident was what I was referring to.

  25. I'm excited because I've already heard such great things about it and it hasn't even released yet! Plus, who could resist the gorgeous cover?!

  26. I'm so excited to read this, as an avid reader who deals with schizophrenia, and the struggle of trying to write a story with a character with the same mental health issue, reading this novel has become the goal of the year

  27. I love that the main character is unpredictable. I'm really excited to read this book!

  28. First, the cover alone is enough to intrigue! I'm a fan of the artist's (whose name escapes me but I follow her on IG!). Plus the premise is fantastic. I'm a little bit of a glut for characters facing mental health issues or dealing with life differently than others, it's an empathy thing. It didn't hurt that I completely fell in love with the author via her tumblr!

  29. The fact that this book is about a teen with paranoid schizophrenia! Just that topic alone makes me excited as it hasn't really been covered before.

  30. I've heard great things about this read, and I posted about it in a TTT post for one of my most anticipated reads of 2015. I wanted to read more books about mental health, and while depression is usually the go-to mental health topic in fiction, I thought schizophrenia would shake it up a bit!

  31. A popular reviewer on Goodreads actually reviewed this book and the summary just PULLED ME IN! I have high expectations for this one, and I'm sure I won't be disappointed! I want it asap!!

  32. I have heard SO MANY great things about this book! I'd love to read it!

  33. The book sounds unique, like the character - a teen with a paranoid schizophrenia. It's not everyday that I get to pick a book with this character. I want to read this book, I'm curious about how the story goes. Plus, the cover art is amazing.

  34. Okay I just went through the mental illness chapter for AP psych, and I'd LOVE to see how the author incorporates schizophrenia in a book for young adults. I feel as if this is really important, especially as schizophrenia starts developing during this time. Thanks for the giveaway!


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