Today on the blog I have the honor of hosting the lovely Elizabeth Norris, who's debut novel Unraveling comes out on April 24th. You can see my review here and now let's get onto the interview. Elizabeth's answers are bold.
First, thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with me. Your book was truly amazing.
Thank you so much. It’s wonderful to hear that people have read the book and liked it.
Now, first things first, if your book was the “answer” in a Jeopardy tournament what would the “question” be?
A romantic YA thriller featuring Janelle Tenner, a seventeen year old girl, who briefly dies, uncovers a mysterious countdown to the end of the world, and finds to save her family, her world and the boy who brought her back from the dead.
What about you, if you were on Jeopardy how would Alec introduce you?
Elizabeth Norris moved from southern California where she taught high school. Now she lives in Manhattan. She loves used books, sunny days, nice guys, and her apartment. She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea. Fortunately not all together.
Now for the fun questions. First, just by reading the front of the book you know that the world is going to end, and the book has a count-down in it, what day does it end? Like, a specific date, or did you not think about that?
When I was writing, I actually opened up a google calendar and logged the major events in the novel. That was the only way I could keep the countdown numbers straight. The countdown “ends” on 9/22/2012.
*Now we all know who to blame if the world ends this September!
If you were to die and be brought back to life, like Janelle, how would you die and who would bring you back?
If I was going to die, I’d want it to be quick like it is for Janelle. I definitely wouldn’t it want to be drowning or burning—that seems awful. In terms of being brought back by someone, I’d have to say my boyfriend. I didn’t do this on purpose, but when I read Unraveling now, I can see a lot of him in Ben. The way that he’s smart and courageous, and that he’d do anything for me.
I was very pleased when I saw that there was talk of Ebola in the book. What do you think is the best disease out there? (No, I don’t mean to contract, I just mean the one that you find the most interesting).
I find diseases in general interesting, especially the ones that are really rare. I’ve always like watching medical shows like House because you can learn so much from them. Hypertrichosis is a disease that causes abnormal hair growth on the body. It’s also referred to as Werewolf Syndrome. I think it’s interesting that there’s a scientific explanation for the legends that spawned bad horror movies about wolfmen.
There’s also a great amount of nerd in the book, which made me very happy as well. I know that The X Files play a pretty big role in the book, and I assume you’ve seen all the episodes, do you have a favorite? What about a favorite sci-fi show?
I always loved The X-Files. Two of my friends and I used to watch it every week. I even had all the seasons on VHS. My favorite episodes our “Our Town” (season 2) where Mulder and Scully investigate a disappearance in a small town and find cannibals and “Home” (season 4) where Mulder and Scully investigate a baby that died from terrible birth defects. My favorite episodes were the “monster of the week” episodes because some of them were so scary yet also realistic.
I’ve always been really into science fiction shows. I loved Sliders and the first season of Roswell. Right now, I’d have to say that Fringe is one of my favorite sci-fi shows. The acting is brilliant, the writing is awesome, and it always manages to surprise me.
There were a few parts of your book that really caught me off guard, which is very hard to do (or at least I like to think so), did you plan the whole book out before you wrote it, or did some things surprise you as well?
I did. I outlined almost the whole book before I really started writing. I have a lot of manuscripts on my computer that I started, but I would get a hundred pages or so in and realize I didn’t know where the plot was going or that I didn’t have enough of a plot for a full book. By writing the whole plot out first, writing my first drafts was easier—and they came out better.
The ending was also very action packed and I can’t help but ask, will there be a sequel? If so does it have a title/release date yet?
There will be sequel. It’s written and going through edits right now. The title is still to be decided (though I have a couple ideas), and I’m not sure about the release date. Probably spring 2013, but I can’t say for sure.
Could you tell us anything about book two? Share a snippet? Just a tiny one!?
There’s another countdown, human trafficking, and more Janelle and Ben.
In your book there are three…four…five(!) rather appealing guys, not all of which have romantic involvements in the book. Which one would you fall for if you were in Janelle’s place? Is one of them most like a teenage boyfriend you had?
I’d definitely go for Ben. Like I mentioned he’s a lot like my current boyfriend who is wonderful. My high boyfriend was more like Kevin, which is probably while we’re not still together. He was cute and funny, but also kind of immature and a little bit of a jerk.
Did you have a favorite scene to write in the book? Or maybe a scene that you really didn’t like having to write? What about a favorite character?
One of my favorite scenes to write was the opening. I actually thought of it when I was sitting on the subway, and I opened up a notebook and wrote the first fifty pages or so in purple ink on the A train. One thing I love about the opening is that I can picture it so clearly—Torrey Pines beach is the beach I went to all the time when I lived in San Diego, and that road where Janelle dies. I’ve walked that same road before.
I love Janelle and Ben, but my favorite character is probably Elijah. He’s just that guy that doesn’t seem to care about anything and can be such a jerk, but underneath he’s messed up, sensitive, and misunderstood.
Despite your book being fiction there are some parts of the book that make you think about the science of our world. Did you have to do research at all, or did you make it up?
Most of it is made up. But I do have a subscription to Scientific American and a lot of information that I absorbed from their articles either made it into the book or influenced the things I made up.
Your book shows when the world is falling apart, which is something not many books do, why did you decide to write a book where you showed the world ending? Would you ever think about a writing a novel about what happens a long time after the world ended?
I wrote Unraveling because it was really the story I wanted to read at the time—a story that could take place today or tomorrow, not thousands of years in the future. It’s about a girl who’s a normal junior in high school and she’s going through a lot of the same problems that other juniors in high school have. I think the world ending can be a lot scarier and more intense if it feels like it could happen tomorrow.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever write a more post apocalyptic or futuristic story. I think an author really has to have a strong vision of what that future might look like, and I’m not sure how I would do it in a new and different way.
You’re part of a group of 2012 YA debuts called The Apocalypsies, what books would you recommend we look out for in the coming year (no, you can’t pick your own)?
I read and loved Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, which came out in February. It’s an alternate history about three sisters who are witches.
I also just finished reading Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard which is awesome. It takes place in historical Philadelphia and the main character is trying to save her brother from a necromancer who is raising zombies and murdering people. It comes out in July.
And I’m super excited for Defiance by CJ Redwine, which comes out in September. I haven’t read it yet, but the cover is beautiful, the story, which is a YA fantasy sounds fantastic, and CJ writes a great blog.
It’s amazing how many wonderful debut books are coming out in 2012—I’m hoping to try to read them all!
And last, but not least (and possibly most importantly), are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?
So when I read the books I was totally Team Edward. I even got really mad at Bella when she was telling Jacob in Eclipse that she loved him too. I might have even yelled, “No you don’t!” when I was reading.
When I saw New Moon though, I may have been won over a little to the Jacob side. Edward seemed so romantic in the book, but he is significantly creepier on screen.
I think I might be Team Ben, but that’s neither here nor there. Thank you so much for answering my questions, even though some of them were kind of crazy, and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to read your book!
Elizabeth has graciously donated a finished copy of Unraveling for me to give away. Since my computer is broken and I've been using my mom's all you have to do is fill out the form HERE, no questions to answer. The contest will run until April 30th at 12:00 midnight and the winner will be notified...hopefully soon after that.