In 2015, Francesca Zappia graced the world with a young adult novel called Made You Up. The novel tackles mental illness and the concept of reality through the main character Alex, as she attempts to understand her schizophrenia and navigate new relationships. In SincerelyMC’s interview, Francesca discusses the success of Made You Up, her favorite moments from writing the novel, and teases the plot of her 2017 novel, Eliza and Her Monsters.
1. What was the best fan reaction you’ve received after Made You Up was published?
F: Honestly, my favorite reaction to Made You Up is the emails I receive from fans of the book saying that it helped them in someway. It helped them get through a tough day, or week, or month. It helped them understands themselves better, or helped them understand someone around them. Don’t get me wrong, I also love the “OH MY GOD DID YOU JUST DO THAT” reaction when people read the book, but what makes it all feel worth it is knowing this story helped someone through a rough time, and that they can go back to it whenever they need it.
2. What was your favorite scene to write from Made You Up?
F: My answer to this is probably different every time someone asks it. I loved writing the lobster tank scenes. I loved writing the Red Witch Bridge scenes. The prank scenes. The twenty question scenes. Basically anything where Alex and Miles were able to play off each other to their full, exaggerated personalities, because they were the soul of the book and they’re so clear and vivid in my head, anything they did together was a fun ride. But overall…probably the bonfire scene. Before the fire incident, when Alex and Miles get all smashed together. That was the moment where both of them realized, “Ohhhh no, I think I like this person.”
3. Is there a Made You Up movie coming in the future?
F: Oh, I would love a Made You Up movie. There are no plans for one right now, but the rights are still available!
4. Tell us about your new book, “Eliza and Her Monsters.” What should readers expect? What was the best part about writing it?
F: Eliza and Her Monsters is about a girl named Eliza who draws a wildly popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea, but nobody knows who she is, and she’s pretty happy keeping it that way—until Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, Wallace, moves to Eliza’s school. Readers can expect fluffy dogs, big goofy football boys, and a look at anxiety and obsession over the things we create. They’ll also get a really cool format for the book: the story is very linear and easy to read, like Made You Up, but it’s interspersed with private messages between Eliza and her friends, website posts and profiles, and my favorite part—pieces of Wallace’s Monstrous Sea fanfiction, as well as comic panels and art of the real Monstrous Sea, drawn by me.
The thing about this book is that so many of my own emotions are in it. Monstrous Sea is the story I’ve been working on for seventeen years now. Much of the way Eliza feels about it is the way I feel about it. A lot of her anxiety is also mine. The best part about writing it was being able to explore my own feelings for Monstrous Sea and my anxiety, to work through some things, and to possibly be able to help other writers and creative types who attach themselves so strongly to the things they create.
5. What is your advice for aspiring teen writers?
F: Read books that you like, figure out why you like them, and see how you can work those things you like into your own writing. Read books you don’t like, figure out why you don’t like them, and see how you can avoid those things in your own writing. But most of all, write what you love, and write it with abandon.