New young-adult novel “21 Questions” tackles anxiety, depression and coming of age

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Let’s face it: sometimes, growing up can be tough. “21 Questions” is a new young-adult novel by scottsdale-native Alexandria Rizik. It follows 16-year-old Kendra Dimes as she struggles to manage her anxiety disorder in the wake of losing her brother to an overdose. Rizik wrote the book with her own experience with anxiety in mind and joined us to talk about what the release means to her.

Rizik said that she first got the inspiration to write a novel when she was 17, going through her first relationship troubles.

“I’ve always been a writer. Writing has really always been my therapy,” Rizik said. She also said that she’s incredibly imaginative, which led to her concocting the premise for “21 Questions”.

“It’s evolved so much from the very first draft, I was only 17. I wasn’t near the writer then that I am now,” she said. The novel is particularly geared towards younger adults and teens, probably because Rizik began writing it when she was a teen herself, she said.

Rizik isn’t a one-trick-pony when it comes to writing, however. She has a poetry book as well, and said that for her, writing poetry is a bit of a different process.

“Even though this story stemmed from a personal experience, writing poetry is even more personal than writing fiction. And with writing a novel, I feel like there’s a lot more structure to it whereas poetry is a lot more freewriting.”

She said that when she was writing the novel, she tried to not constrain the characters too much. “When I’m writing fiction, I don’t write an outline. I kind of just write, and then go back and edit and write and edit and write and edit, etc…” Rizik said.

The book also taps into the experience of somebody struggling with their mental health, which is something Rizik said she believes many teenagers struggle with now. “Especially with social media, we see all of these things online and we’re so overexposed to everything and we compare ourselves so much…” she said. “So I wanted to write about something that young people could relate to and I experienced personally.”

Alexandria Rizik, Author, “21 Questions”

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