2021 Debut Author Interview: Amy Noelle Parks!


In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and to spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun for years to come! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2021 debuts and chat with them about their writing process and what it's like to be a new author. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats, and more!
At the end of 2020, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Amy Noelle Parks and her novel THE QUANTUM WEIRDNESS OF THE ALMOST-KISS, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Amy on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Amy Noelle Parks is an associate professor of elementary education at Michigan State University, where she helps future teachers recover from the trauma inflicted on them by years of school mathematics. At night, she writes stories about smart girls falling for feminist boys in quirky midwestern settings and likes using One Direction lyrics as the inspiration for entire novels. Social media still scares her, but she’s working on it.

Keep up with Amy: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: . First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Amy: It's a little strange right now. It feels a little wrong to be so very happy about something with so much going on in the world, but it's also lovely to have a dream come true.
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Amy: Honestly, I love every part of the writing process. Writing flirty dialogue is probably my favorite, and I definitely struggle most with plot -- but it's a good kind of struggle, like doing a tough puzzle. I came to writing pretty late in life -- and I like my day job as a professor -- so writing is something I do only because it's fun. On the other hand, publishing is consistently the worst...

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for THE QUANTUM WEIRDNESS OF THE ALMOST-KISS?
Amy: The truth is, after the 2016 election, I wrote a very angry, very ranty, very bad contemporary fantasy. But even though I knew it was bad, I fell in love with the characters and the STEM boarding school setting, so I decided I would put them in a happier story--a dual POV romance where I imagined what it would have been like if Gilbert Blythe had fallen in love with Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time instead of with Anne.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Amy: Writing Caleb, my boy protagonist, was so fun. His rival for Evie's affections calls him the human equivalent of a golden retriever, which is pretty spot on. Evie, my girl protagonist, was a challenge. She struggles with reading other people's emotions and so trying to tell a story through her eyes was tricky. She's smarter than I am too, so I had to do a lot of research just to keep up with her. 

The Book Bratz: Are there any other books or authors who give you inspiration for your own writing?
Amy: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is one of my favorite books of all time because it's so happy and bubbly and magical. I definitely want to give readers the same feeling in my writing. I also really love Jennifer E. Smith's books for similar reasons--they're smart and funny and romantic. And then Nicola Yoon's The Sun is Also a Star was such an amazing whirl of science and romance. It's a constant inspiration.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from THE QUANTUM WEIRDNESS OF THE ALMOST-KISS? 
Amy: Mostly, I hope the love story is a delightful little escape from the real world. It would be a bonus if readers also left with a little appreciation for the beauty of mathematics and physics. And finally, I've been really touched by early readers who have reached out to say that they felt comforted by the story because they recognized themselves in Evie's anxiety and in her history with teasing from classmates. Those parts were pretty personal and I love that they're speaking to people.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THE QUANTUM WEIRDNESS OF THE ALMOST KISS in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Amy: I have two other books in the works. My middle-grade debut, Summer of Brave, comes out March 1, and follows twelve-year-old Lilla as she learns to say what she wants to her friends, her parents, and boys who are starting to see her in new ways. My second YA romantic comedy Lia and Beckett's Abracadabra will be out in Spring 2022. It's a Romeo-and-Juliet style love story set in a magic-themed resort town with illusions instead of duels and a happy ending instead of death. And, I am actually working on a book set in the same world as The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss. At one point, Evie refers to Caleb's younger brother as a diet version of Caleb--all the looks and charm but none of the nutritional value. She thinks he needs a few obstacles in his life. I kept thinking and thinking about what that would like until I just had to start writing. 

Title: The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost Kiss
Author: Amy Noelle Parks
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Evie Beckham has never been interested in dating. She's been fully occupied by her love of mathematics and her frequent battles with anxiety (and besides, she's always found the idea of kissing to be a little bit icky). But with the help of her best friend and her therapist, Evie's feeling braver. Maybe even brave enough to enter a prestigious physics competition and to say yes to the new boy who's been flirting with her. Caleb Covic knows Evie isn't ready for romance but assumes that when she is, she will choose him. So Caleb is horrified when he is forced to witness Evie's meet cute with a floppy-haired, mathematically gifted transfer student. Because Caleb knows the girl never falls for the funny best friend when there's a mysterious stranger around, he decides to use an online forum to capture Evie's interest. Now, he's got Evie wondering if it's possible to fall in love with a boy she's never met.

Thank you so much to Amy for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE QUANTUM WEIRDNESS OF THE ALMOST-KISS and can't wait for it to be out in the world on January 5th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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