Alternate Universe intersects with the girl meets boy trope to create an innovative debut in Sarah Zachrich Jeng’s thriller The Other Me.
Author Interview + Author & Book Info + Author Pet Corner!
The Other Me — Alternate Universe, time travel, suspense . . .
Two lives. The one you wanted. The one that wanted you.
Her birthday should be like any other night.
One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show opening. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She’s got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she’s married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.
Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly’s search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him—including a connection to a mysterious tech startup—tells her she shouldn’t. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning.
But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can’t figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything…
To purchase The Other Me from a variety of sites, click the link here.
The Interview with Sarah Zchrich Jeng
“CONVINCING ALTERNATE-UNIVERSE MECHANICS AND A SUBTLE LESSON IN THE PERILS OF MANIPULATING OTHER PEOPLE TO GET WHAT WE WANT RAISE THE BAR IN THIS FUN, WELL-PACED STORY. AN ENJOYABLE ADVENTURE WITH A LIKABLE HEROINE IN SEARCH OF THE LIFE SHE REALLY WANTS.”
Tell us about Kelly, the protagonist in The Other Me.
Kelly is an artist who lives in Chicago but grew up in Michigan. She hasn’t had her breakthrough yet, and she’s wondering whether it’s ever going to happen for her. One night she’s at her (much more successful) best friend’s opening when she walks through a door and suddenly finds herself back in her hometown with an entirely different life: instead of going to art school, she stayed nearby and married Eric, a guy from her high school. She has memories from both of her lives, and she has to figure out what caused the switch before she loses her real self entirely.
Kelly’s always built her identity around painting, so she has a hard time holding onto her sense of self in an environment where she never had training and no one thinks of her as an artist. Yet there are certain compensations in her new life that make her wonder whether she truly wants to go back to her life in Chicago, or if she’s just afraid of being ordinary.
You grew up in Michigan, the setting for your novel. What should readers know about Michigan and the places in the book? How does your childhood impact the descriptions in The Other Me?
The smaller towns in The Other Me are made up, but they draw heavily from places I’ve either lived in or visited.
When I picture Kelly and Eric’s neighborhood, I’m picturing somewhere very similar to the subdivision where I grew up. However, some of the settings, such as the Innovation Park and the neighborhood where Kelly’s friend from high school lives, were written with an eye toward creating a sense of claustrophobia or dystopia lite, and for those I pulled inspiration from a lot of different sources.
The gnii headquarters, a building made of glass printed to resemble a farmhouse, was inspired by an architecture project in the Netherlands. Someone who interviewed me recently used the words “suburban gothic” to describe certain parts of the book, and I absolutely love that.
Alternate Universe: Also called a parallel universe, or the multiverse theory is the concept of additional, self-contained universes existing parallel to our own.
Your work has been called, “an astute reinvention of the time travel narrative.” How would you describe your innovative debut?
A well-worn trope (guy meets girl, guy loses girl, guy moves mountains to get girl) told from the girl’s point of view.
Tell us about your brief aspiring rock star career:
It never got very far past local stages, but I had a lot of fun! At various times, I played keyboards in a hardcore band, bass guitar for a glam rock band, and drums in an all-women indie rock group, among other projects.
If you lived an alternate life, what would it look like?
When I first went to college, I was planning to become a journalist. I’m not sure how well that would have worked out for me!
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on another speculative suspense novel about two former best friends who are now enemies, and what happens when their lives intersect again years later. That’s slated to come out summer of 2022.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Don’t take writing advice too seriously. In my experience, none of it fits every situation. And no matter where you are in your publishing process, don’t forget that you got into this because you (hopefully!) enjoy writing.
Author Pet Corner!
Here’s a pic of Inara (left) and George (right) with The Other Me!
Inara enjoys barking at owls and trying to sneak George’s food;
George likes long naps with his blankie and getting his feet very muddy.
Adorable! Thank you for sharing your dogs with us.
Sarah Zachrich Jeng
Sarah Zachrich Jeng grew up in Michigan and always had a flair for the morbid and mysterious (for her dad’s thirty-fifth birthday, she wrote a story entitled “The Man Who Died at 35”).
She had a brief career as an aspiring rock star before she came to her senses and went back to school to become a web developer.
Sarah lives in Florida with her family and two extremely hyper rescue dogs.
To learn more about Sarah, click on her name, photo, or any of the following links: Twitter, Instagram & Facebook
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite bookstores and on-line retailers.
For more information on All We Buried, click on the link here to visit the home page.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020