Back in January, I was sent a copy of The Upside of Falling by Wattpad superstar Alex Light. I have to say, thus far, it has been the best book I’ve read in 2020 (and I’ve read 24+!) It made me laugh, it made me cry and it also made me hungry. My favorite aspects of the book are the charming supporting characters and also the depth in the relationship between the protagonist and antagonist. As a mom, I appreciate that it is wholesome yet relevant and would highly recommend this book to any teen girl moms navigating friendships, relationships and family.
If you are a fan of Jenny Han or Meg Cabot, you’ll love this debut YA novel from Alex Light. I hope everyone enjoys this interview with her!
Grayce: Hi Alex, congratulations on the release of your debut novel! How did the idea for TUOF come to you? (And where and when?)
Alex: TUOF is based off a really weird dream I had back in 2016. The details are a little foggy, but the dream essentially revolved around me having to find a fake date for a wedding I was attending. I woke up the next morning and could not get this dream out of my head! So that morning, I had an extra hour to spare before class and just sat down in the middle of a food court and began to write TUOF.
Grayce: Who was the inspiration for Becca?
Alex: I think when writing Becca, I unknowingly based her off myself. Her love for books and baking are very much me. And a lot of her other mannerisms and what she’s going through were similar things that I felt as a teen. But I wouldn’t say she’s based off a single person—she’s sort of a cumulation of myself and other teen girls who may feel the same pressures.
Grayce: Tell us about your Wattpad experience! What was it like self-publishing on Wattpad and then being picked up by an international publisher?
Alex: My Wattpad experience was equal parts crazy and incredible. When I published TUOF on Wattpad, I never expected anything to come from it—yet alone 40 million + reads and a book deal with HarperCollins! It sort of blew me away and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
Grayce: Was the process what you expected?
Alex: Going into the process of signing a book deal and all that comes with it, I didn’t have any expectations because that had never happened to me before. I was so excited and eager to get started with my editor and make TUOF the best version of itself. I can say that the entire process went by so quickly and I honestly enjoyed all of it. (Fingers crossed I get to do it again!)
Grayce: When we chatted, you mentioned that RIVALS and The Upside of Falling could be two totally different books – what is the main difference between the two stories?
Alex: TUOF was renamed during the editing phase. When it was on Wattpad, it was titled as Rivals. And although they are technically the same book, they couldn’t be more different. The main difference would have to be the role family dynamics play in the book. In the Wattpad version, the story was more focused on Brett, Becca and their relationship. TUOF has a larger focus on the exterior factors in their life (mostly their family) and how that shapes them and works to bring the two together.
Grayce: I know you mentioned that you don’t do squeals but would you ever do a “spin-off” story? Cassie definitely deserves her own story!
Alex: As much as I love the characters in TUOF, their story has ended and I won’t be revisiting it to write additional books about other characters. Sorry!
Grayce: Let’s talk about Becca’s relationship with Jenny. Why was it important to you to have a supporting character like Jenny in your story?
Alex: I wanted a character like Jenny in TUOF because I feel like friendship heartbreak is so prevalent in high school (or at least it was for me) and I wanted to touch on how losing a friend can be equally—if not more—hard as losing a partner. Friends are such an integral part of being a teenager and I wanted to show that journey of having a best friend, growing apart, and finding your way back to one another.
Grayce: Do you personally have a “Jenny” in your life?
Alex: I have many Jennys in my life. Rather, I had many of them. High school for me was having a tight knit group of friends that you thought you’d be with for your whole life and, sadly, later growing apart and losing one another. It took me a while to understand that that’s okay. I wanted Jenny to be a reflection of that.
Grayce: Sometimes in life, friendship is much harder to navigate than love. Do you have any advice on friendship for the teen girls who read your book?
Alex: For teen girls reading my book, I would tell them that friends are supposed to uplift and support you—they’re supposed to make you feel comfortable, happy, and that you can be yourself around them, wholeheartedly. When you find a friend like that, understand how lucky you are and tell them that! And if you haven’t found your person yet, that’s okay, too. You will!
Grayce: Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know? 🙂
Alex: I’d like my readers to know that they’re the absolute best and by reading the words I write, they played the biggest role in making my dreams come true.
Grayce: Thank you so much for chatting with us today! I can’t wait to see what you come out with next!