Interview with Samantha Young, author of The Impossible Vastness of Us

Samantha Young is one of my very favorite authors, I’ve read her books for years and every time she announces a new book I get super excited! The Impossible Vastness of Us—a beautifully written, emotional YA novel—is out, and I’m so excited to share my chat with Sam about the book and what you can expect… if you’ve not yet devoured it!

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About The Impossible Vastness of Us

“I know how to watch my back. I’m the only one that ever has.” 

India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend, Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful and big enough to change them forever…

From New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young comes a story of friendship, identity and acceptance that will break your heart—and make it whole again.

Interview

Tell us about The Impossible Vastness of Us and how the idea for the story was sparked.

My main character India came to me first, and she really ignited the idea for the rest of the story. I wanted to write about a teen who had seen more hardship than most, a mature, somewhat damaged kid, who thinks she has it all worked out. But she really doesn’t. From there the idea of transplanting her into a world so different from her own, surrounded by kids she’s prejudged for their wealth and arrogance, naturally developed. I wanted India’s story to be a true coming of age story. It’s only as we grow up that we start to see the complexities in people, see our differences and our similarities, and most importantly the many layers we’re made up of. No one’s ever just one thing, and that concept really pushed TIVOU’s plot and character development when India meets Eloise and Finn.

This is your first YA contemporary. What made you want to tackle this kind of story and was the writing process any different for you?

I’ve always loved the theme of coming-of-age and used it in my YA paranormal novels. However, paranormal is so different from contemporary because there is a split in focus between characters and world building. What I love about contemporary fiction is the fact that it’s carried almost entirely by character development and I really wanted to take that into the YA reading level. Mostly because I knew the character development would be much more emphatic in YA than NA or adult because we do change and learn so much as teenagers. Moreover, I knew if I was going to write YA I wanted to tackle issues in the story that was relevant to today’s teens. And although my writing process was the same in that I plotted and planned it the way I would any book, it was different in that the process was much longer. This book required patience and time because it does deal with sensitive issues. I had a number of beta readers who read the novel at different stages in the process. It was extremely important to me that I tell India, Eloise and Finn’s story in realistic but sensitive way.

Could you tell us a little bit about India, Eloise and Finn.

India is my main character and the story’s narrator. She has grown up with little money most of her life, has suffered abuse as a child, and has used popularity in high school as armor against being hurt by anyone again. Ambitious and determined, she feels safest at the top of the social hierarchy and has convinced herself she needs to stay there to stay safe. When her mother moves them across country to join Boston Society, India not only is mistrustful of her new step-family, she finds herself at the bottom of the social ladder thanks to her equally mistrustful stepsister Eloise.

Eloise, like India, has secrets she wants to keep and is terrified India will somehow discover them now that she’s a part of their household. She’s not a natural mean girl but she becomes one to hold India at bay.

Finn is Eloise’s boyfriend. They are the school’s golden couple. Except Finn is guarding not only Eloise’s secrets, but his, even from his girlfriend. Like Eloise he wants to keep India at a safe distance, but when she discovers his secrets all of their defenses start to unravel and an unlikely friendship develops between them all.

What are you hoping readers take away from this story?

I’m hoping it reminds them in as non-cliché a way as possible to look beneath the surface of people. Most people are very good at showing the world exactly what they want it to see, but we’re all never just that one thing. We are incredibly complicated creatures. In today’s world, especially the world of social media, many people are quick to judge, and I suppose I hope TIVOU is a reminder to take a step back and think before making judgments about people. Moreover, TIVOU is a reminder to nurture your friendships. Friendships can be just as important as familial relationships, and in some cases even more so.

What are you working on now and what’s coming next?

I have a few projects on the go at the moment. Another YA for Harlequin TEEN is in the works! Moreover, projects with Berkley romance for more adult contemporary romance, and I’m also self-publishing the first in an adult contemporary romance set in Scotland. More on that soon!

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