Becky Albertalli was nice enough to stop by to discuss The Upside of Unrequited (out in April)!
What is the Twitter pitch for The Upside of Unrequited?
Molly has had unrequited crushes on 26 people (25 of whom aren’t @Lin_Manuel) – but crush number 27 may not be so unrequited.
Alternate pitch – this gif: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/97/7e/57/977e572286b4ca99f36e0ff283f74a4e.jpg
Personality-wise, which character are you most like?
I am so much of a Molly. I poured a lot of myself into Simon Spier, but this is a whole new level of personal. I let so many of my own thoughts, fears, and preoccupations leak into her inner monologue – but she gets a lot of my joy and humor, too.
That said, when my own sister read the book, she felt like SHE was Molly, and identified me with Molly’s confident, opinionated sister Cassie. Such a reminder of how we show different sides of ourselves in different relationships!
I love the cover! How much input did you have?
I love it, too! The cover was designed by Sarah Creech, Alison Donalty, and Barbara Fitzsimmons – all part of the ridiculously talented HarperCollins design team. They used artwork from genius artist Chris Bilheimer, who also did the art for the SIMON cover. I’m so thrilled with the result – I think the emoji, in particular, captures so much of Molly’s mix of optimism and anxiety. I love that it’s a little bit fun and irreverent, and I can’t wait to put that little face on all my new swag.
Interestingly, while the team landed on the SIMON cover almost instantly, it was a longer road with UPSIDE. They were incredibly open to my input on the design, and the process was very collaborative. Initially, there was an effort to include a human figure on the UPSIDE cover (something that would sort of match the headless figure on SIMON) – but this particular story introduced a whole new set of challenges in this space. One of the biggest questions was how to represent Molly’s size and shape. Molly is fat, but in the text, I deliberately avoid specific numbers, measurements, or size details (it’s important to me that fat readers of any size can connect with Molly). A visual representation of Molly’s body on the cover would make this much more concrete than I had intended.
Additionally, we ran into an issue of whether or not to incorporate Molly’s face in the design. After trying several variations, we found that designs incorporating Molly’s face felt too specific for this story. However, because Molly is a fat/chubby character, my team and I were very aware of the implications of including a human figure without a face. Designs with Molly’s face covered or cropped out brought to mind the dehumanizing portrayals of fat women in so much of our media. This was something my team understood deeply, and they ultimately found a way to represent the story without a human figure.
And the questions I ask everyone:
What 2017 releases are you looking forward to?
Oh my gosh, there are so many. A few that I’ve read that I absolutely adore:
HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME – Adam Silvera
UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES – Louise Gornall
THE HATE U GIVE – Angie Thomas
GOODBYE DAYS – Jeff Zentner
SEVEN DAYS OF YOU – Cecilia Vinesse
DEAR MARTIN – Nic Stone
THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE – Mackenzi Lee
AMERICAN STREET – Ibi Zoboi
THE LOVE INTEREST – Cale Dietrich
HOW TO MAKE A WISH – Ashley Herring Blake
NICE TRY, JANE SINNER – Lianne Oelke
And a few that I’m dying for:
WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI – Sandhya Menon
THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE – Benjamin Alire Saenz
THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS – Lauren Karcz
TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY – Kath Ormsbee
THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON – Katherine Locke
RAMONA BLUE – Julie Murphy
GIRL OUT OF WATER – Laura Silverman
AT THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE – Shaun David Hutchinson
IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET – Misa Sugiura
FIREWORKS – Katie Cotugno
THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END – Adam Silvera
ALLEGEDLY – Tiffany D. Jackson
27 HOURS – Tristina Wright
What are you reading?
Right now, I’m reading Lily Anderson’s hilarious, adorable, super-geeky THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU.
If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?
I’m cheating and naming three books: Nic Stone’s DEAR MARTIN, Alex Gino’s GEORGE, and Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE.
What are your five favorite books? You can do authors, if it’s easier.
This one is actually impossible for me, so I’m going to limit the field to make it a little easier. My five favorite authors I haven’t met in person: