Breia Brissey
December 20, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST

You had two very different novels come out this year: Eleanor & Park, a quirky teen romance, and Fangirl, a coming-of-age tale set in the fan-fiction world. Were you surprised by the success of both?
Yes! They’re totally different experiences, and I was really surprised when people embraced them both.

Why were you surprised?
Probably because authors are paranoid and insecure. You always think whatever you write next is going to kill you. But when someone says they love Fangirl and they’re going to read Eleanor & Park, I’m curious to hear their reaction. If you come in through the happy door, are you bummed out? Or if you come in through the angsty door, are you craving more angst?

Fangirl made us wonder whether you’re into fan fiction.
I’ve always been a very fannish person. When I was a kid I was obsessed with Star Wars, and I wrote stories where I was Princess Leia’s cousin.

On a personal level, what has 2013 been like for you?
It’s really profound to have people respond to Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, which were written in such a personal way. Sometimes you’re compelled to tell a story, and to have people respond to those stories, to get them, to like them — there’s a name for that, right? When you send out a wave and it comes back twice as hard? I don’t know what that’s called. But I feel bowled over.

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