Fiction Friday: EVERYTHING EVERYTHING with Nicola Yoon
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Several months ago, I was thrilled to meet debut author Nicola Yoon at YALLWEST. Her new book, Everything, Everything (Delacorte Press, September 1, 2015), has hit shelves and I have no doubt it will be a book that resonates with teen readers (and adults like me who are really teens at heart).
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful, creative story about love — not just love between a boy and a girl, but love between a teen girl and her mother and nurse who devote their lives to care for her. I don’t want to say too much more about Everything Everything (fact: I never read reviews about a book before I read it…I hate spoilers). But what I will say is that I very much enjoyed the unique story about a girl confined to her home because she is allergic to anything and everything. I found the love story to be very sweet and totally believable (who wouldn’t love a boy who can climb on walls). I also found the beautiful illustrations by Yoon’s husband to add so much texture and perspective to the book.
Yoon was gracious enough to grant me an email interview. Read on to learn more about the very kind and talented debut author.
EZ: I read in your unofficial bio that in a former life, you made jewelry. Was there a particular moment at which you decided to write full time or did it just evolve? Do you ever miss jewelry making?
NY: I was only able to start writing full time after I sold Everything, Everything. Before that it wasn’t a financially viable option for me. I still make jewelry but only as a hobby now.
EZ: What fascinated you about the idea of a protagonist who is allergic to the world? What made you come up with that idea?
NY: I started writing the book when my daughter was just four months old. Like any new mom I really worried about everything from her getting the common cold to eating dirt. My new mom instincts were out of control! It got me thinking about what life would be like for a girl who needed constant protection not just as a baby but for her whole life. What would that situation do to the relationship between the mother and daughter? How would their relationship change as the daughter got older and started forming other attachments?
EZ: What was your biggest challenge when it came to creating the plot? Was there any particular part of the book that was especially difficult to write?
NY: Trying to write from the point of view of someone who’d never seen the world was challenging. I had to look at the most familiar things and see them with new eyes.
EZ: I read in your unofficial bio that you wrote your first draft of Everything, Everything by hand. What motivated you to do that, and how did it compare in terms of flow and ideas and productivity to writing on a computer?
NY: I’ve always written long hand. I don’t know why, but my brain just works better that way. In the interest of speed, I once tried to change it and draft on the computer first but it was not meant to be and my writing totally suffered. Usually what I do is I write long hand and then every couple of days I type what I’ve written into my computer.
EZ: In Everything, Everything, you successfully integrate things like diary entries and creative illustrations. Did you write the book first and then fill those in while writing a later draft, come up with them as you went along, or some combo of the two?
NY: I wrote them together. Early on in the writing process, I decided that Madeline would draw things as a way of trying to understand the world that she can’t really be a part of. The drawing just led to other non-traditional means of story telling.
EZ: What was it like to work with your husband who did the illustrations? Any challenges or was it mostly smooth sailing?
NY: Mostly smooth sailing! My husband and I are best friends and we think along similar lines creatively. It was a really fun experience getting to work together.
EZ: How long did it take you to write Everything, Everything from start to finish, including working with your editor? And do you have set writing times (I believe you do it extremely early in the AM, like 4 to 6 a.m. if I recall from one of your panel talks at YALLWEST).
NY: It took about 2 1/2 years and I wrote from 4 to 6 AM everyday.
EZ: Describe in five words or less how you felt when you 1) got an agent, and 2) found out your debut book was going to be published.
NY: Over the moon.
EZ: Any other work in the pipeline we can look forward to?
NY: I’m on deadline for book #2 right now. I can’t say much about it except that two people fall in love!
EZ: Any words of advice to aspiring fiction writers just getting started?
NY: Find the time to write. Life can get in the way but if you’re going to achieve your dream then you have to find the time to write.
I also asked Nicola a few fun questions—responses below:
Favorite color: Orange
Favorite book(s) and/or authors: Favorite books – The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupury and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The last movie you saw and loved: Inside Out.
What you’d do for a living if you didn’t write: Food critic.
Favorite place/way to write: I write in my office while drinking copious amounts of tea!
Hardest part about writing: Writing when I’m not at all inspired.
Favorite ways to #moveitorloseit: I’ve just started exercising again after a very long post-baby hiatus. I don’t do anything fancy, just your basic aerobics and strength training. I’ve also been skydiving and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.
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