I started writing Everything, Everything when my daughter was just four months old. Like any new mom, I worried about everything. I worried about her eating dirt, getting a cold, bumping her head. If I could worry about it, I did! It got me thinking: what if there was a girl who needed constant protection — not just as a little baby, but throughout her whole life? How would a girl like that see the world? What would that kind of illness do the relationship between the mother and daughter? How would their relationship change as the daughter got older and started to form other relationships?
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
I love the scene where Madeline sees the ocean for the first time. I was inspired by when my three-year old saw it for the first time. Her eyes got really wide and she tried to run right into it like it was made just for her.
How long did you work on EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING?
About 3 years.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
It taught me that if you get up every morning and write, then eventually you will have an entire book. Persistence and patience and discipline are every bit as important as talent.
What do you hope readers will take away from EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING?
For me, Everything, Everything is really a meditation on love. I think that love — be it familial, romantic, etc — is the greatest thing in the world. It can be the cause of such great joy, but its loss can be the cause of such great sorrow. Given that duality, is love worth risking your heart and other things for?
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My road to publication was looooooong. Before Everything, Everything, I worked as a financial programmer/analyst for 22 years. I have one unpublished manuscript that I’m hoping to get back to someday.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I write longhand into notebooks from my home office from 4 – 6AM. I listen to ambient sounds, usually thunderstorms. I also have an electric kettle for drinking all the tea in the world!
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
When I first started writing, the hardest thing for me was to finish what I’d started. I’d get to the middle of something and think: This is the worst thing anyone’s ever written ever in the entire history of the world. But the thing is, if you don’t finish writing the work itself, then there’s nothing to edit or fix.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my second book. I can’t really say much about it except that there’s lots of love in it!
ABOUT THE BOOKEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORNicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.
Have you had a chance to read EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING yet? Do you think love is worth risking your heart and other things? Is Nicola superhuman to be able to get up at 4 AM to write?