Cindy R. Wilson talks about exploring extreme anxiety in her new novel PAPER GIRL!
In Cindy R. Wilson‘s powerful new contemporary Paper Girl, Zoe has extreme agoraphobia– aka the fear of leaving one’s home. In fact, she hasn’t left home in over a year. She’s created her own safe space there with hobbies like paper crafting and online friends via her favorite chess app. Her whole world is thrown upside down when her mother hires a new tutor, Jackson, a boy that she used to have a major crush on back when she still attended school. Jackson’s mere presence dares Zoe to wish for more, but that doesn’t change the fact that she sees life beyond her home as an impassable obstacle. After all, the world is made of fire and she is a paper girl.
Thanks to Entangled Teen, we were able to chat with Cindy R. Wilson about how her own experiences with anxiety informed the novel, what she loves about the characters, and more! Check it out below.
How have your own experiences with anxiety affected how you wrote Zoe’s story?
There were quite of few scenes where I really delve deep into Zoe’s feelings and a few scenes where I modeled them directly after my own experiences with anxiety. Knowing first-hand what it feels like to have extreme anxiety definitely facilitated my ability to write a character who is dealing with the same struggle.
What kind of research on agoraphobia did you do before or as you wrote the book?
I didn’t do a lot of additional outward research. After I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and PTSD in my 20s, I went through a period where I was very nervous to leave my house and did so rarely. I used that time, trying to really delve into the emotions I felt personally, as research for Zoe’s character.
Zoe is very passionate about origami. Why was this the perfect hobby to represent her?
Zoe likes order. She likes to know that if she applies the correct steps to something, it will turn out how she expects. Origami is great for this. Not only is it perfect for a organize soul, it’s a step by step process that’s relaxing, produces an expected outcome, and gives her a chance to showcase her creativity.
What do you think makes the chemistry between Zoe and Jackson work so well?
Zoe and Jackson are almost complete opposites. Zoe’s afraid of the world and Jackson loves it. Zoe can’t leave her house and Jackson doesn’t ever want to go home. Zoe is shy and Jackson is outgoing. Outwardly, they are as different as can be, but their passions, their drive, even their sense of humor make them fall for each other despite the differences. It’s definitely an opposites attract kind of scenario.
Other than his relationship with Zoe, what are your favorite things about Jackson?
I love that he has a pure heart. He just wants to make the world right. He wants to fix everything for everyone, even if it’s not his place. I also kind of like that he’s a math nerd—especially since I’m personally horrible at math.
Who were some of your favorite secondary characters to write about and why?
I really liked writing Zoe’s mom, Yoko. She’s so straightforward and curious and creative. She does her best with everything and she’s just super cute. She has her own YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers and one of her biggest joys in life is getting everyone else excited about her passions (like baking and organizing and DIY projects).
You mention on Goodreads that you create playlists for your books. What was on the playlist for PAPER GIRL?
Oh, yes. I LOVE playlists. Some of the songs are very personal to me, picked very carefully for specific characters or scenes. I picked “Mind Over Matter” by Young the Giant for my hero, Jackson and “Four Walls” by Broods for my heroine, Zoe. A few songs that represent their relationship are “Look After You” by The Fray and “Higher” by Alice and the Glass Lake. There are a lot of other songs that are perfect for the story, too. You can find the full playlist on my Paper Girl book page on my website here.
Want more? Check out an exclusive excerpt!
Paper Girl hits shelves on Tuesday, December 4, 2018. You can preorder it now via…
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Entangled Publishing
ABOUT THE BOOK
I haven’t left my house in over a year. My doctor says it’s social anxiety, but I know the only things that are safe are made of paper. My room is paper. My world is paper. Everything outside is fire. All it would take is one spark for me to burst into flames. So I stay inside. Where nothing can touch me.
Then my mom hires a tutor. Jackson. This boy I had a crush on before the world became too terrifying to live in. Jackson’s life is the complete opposite of mine, and I can tell he’s got secrets of his own. But he makes me feel things. Makes me want to try again. Makes me want to be brave. I can almost taste the outside world. But so many things could go wrong, and all it takes is one spark for everything I love to disappear…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cindy R. Wilson is a YA speculative and contemporary author whose own struggles with anxiety disorder inspired her to write a story with a real-life topic readers can relate to. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and loves using Colorado towns and cities as settings for her stories. She’s the mother of three girls who provide plenty of fodder for her YA novels.
When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking some of Colorado’s tallest peaks, reading, or listening to playlists she’s created for her next story idea.