YEM Author Interview: Amy Noelle Parks chats about writing about technology in Averil Offline

Amy Noelle Parks is the author of Averil Offline. Averil Offline follows Twelve-year-old coder Averi who can’t do anything without her parents knowing. The novel explores a fun story about becoming independent. YEM was able to speak with Amy about her writing process, books that inspire her, and how long it took her to write Averil Offline.

Young Entertainment Mag:  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Amy Noelle Parks: When I was little, being a writer seemed like an imaginary goal—like growing up to be a princess. I’ve always wanted to do it but didn’t believe it was possible until a few years ago!

YEM: Where did inspiration for Averil Offline come from?

Amy: I’d started hearing stories from my children’s friends and my college students about their parents constantly tracking them on the Life 360 app, and honestly, as a child of the ‘70s, I was horrified. I feel like as parents and educators we’ve been working really hard to protect kids from strangers online but haven’t really helped them think about how to start conversations about boundaries within their own families.

YEM: What was your writing process like?

Amy: I read a lot of non-fiction to ground myself for each book. My favorite for Averil was Life in Code by Ellen Ullman, which was an amazing memoir of what it was like to be a woman in the early days of coding. Next, I usually start putting characters together in random little scenes. I never really know who they are until they start interacting. Averil didn’t come alive for me until I got her on the page with Max.

YEM: Did you know that you wanted to write a book that touched on technology going in writing it?

Amy: My first idea was that I wanted to write a book about kids running away to a college campus, but pretty shortly after that I knew electronic surveillance would be at the heart of the story.

YEM: What is your favorite part about writing for a young adult audience?

Amy: I love writing stories about people who are still figuring out who they are.

YEM: What is a book that has inspired you?

Amy: For Averil Offline, definitely The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Koningsburg, which is about two kids who run away to live in a museum for a week. I loved it as a child. There’s a scene in a fountain in Averil Offline that’s an homage to Mrs. Basil E.

YEM: What do you hope readers can take away from reading Averil Offline?

Amy: That being someone’s child doesn’t mean you lose your right to autonomy. All of my books are pretty light, but I think all of them are, in one way or another, asking the question: What would it be like if we treated children as full human beings?

YEM: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a writer?

Amy: Read. First, it’s the best way to learn story structure and technique. And second, books (especially those within a category and genre) are in conversation with each other. It’s really hard to have something to say if you don’t listen too.

YEM:What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Amy: Dialogue, always. My early drafts look like plays!

YEM: How long did it take you to write Averil Offline?

Amy: About a year. I wrote it as part of my MFA at Vermont College of the Fine Arts, and I drafted over one semester and revised over the next.

YEM: What is a scene or quote from Averil Offline that is your favorite?

Amy: Honestly, I love every scene of Max and Averil on campus—solving puzzles in the lab, finding places to hide in the library, conning their way into the all-you-can-eat dining hall. It’s just such joyful chaos.

YEM: What do you have planned to write in the future?

Amy: I’m working on another middle grade right now and reading about influencer families, haunted houses, and carnivals to get ready!