Saturday, April 14, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Norris, author of UNRAVELING!

About the author:
Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter.

She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together.

Her first novel, UNRAVELING (Balzer+Bray, April 2012), is the story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.

Be sure to follow Elizabeth Norris' blog for the latest Unraveling news!

About the book:
Release date: 4/24/12

Two days before her junior year, Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, her life flashing before her, then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And though it isn’t possible, she knows with every fiber of her being that Ben has brought her back to life.

But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. As the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s needs to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

UNRAVELING is a gripping story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.

My review for Unraveling - "One of the best debuts I've ever read."

Pre-order Unraveling!
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

The interview:
Q: There is a lot going on in UNRAVELING. How did you keep everything straight?
A: I actually had almost the whole book outlined before I wrote it. When I started writing I knew the big twists and the end, and the further into the writing process I got, the more fleshed out my outline was. When I was a hundred pages in, my outline (finished) was 30 pages!

Having that outline made it a lot easier to keep everything straight, but there was a moment when I first started writing that I thought to myself, "maybe there's too much going on, what if I can't bring it all together" and I actually went back and tried to take out a few of the minor sub plots (like Janelle's mom or the party that ruined her friendship with Kate), but when I did that, the book felt incomplete, and I felt like Janelle's character really suffered. There's so much going on in real life and I wanted the book and Janelle to feel real, so I put them all back in and told myself I had to figure a way to make it work.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing UNRAVELING?
A: I've actually been thinking about this a lot. Writing is hard. It's hard to find the time to sit down and do it, it's frustrating, it's emotional and draining, and there were definitely days I thought I'd never finish it. But it's also so rewarding, and there have been times when I've reread certain passages and just felt a little awestruck by the fact that I wrote a book that someone wanted to publish!

But for me, the hardest part of writing Unraveling was a particular event in the middle of the book. A character close to Janelle dies, and that was really emotional for me to write. I felt really depressed for several days while I was working on those chapters. 
Q: What other projects are you currently working on?
A:I finished my first round of edits on the sequel to Unraveling, and right now I'm working on a couple short stories from Ben's POV that take place before, during, and after Unraveling. 

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. He's definitely a favorite of mine. I also really love Orson Scott Card, Kim Harrison, Jodi Picoult, Kelley Armstrong, Tana French, George RR Martin and Melina Marchetta. I read all of their books.

Q: If you could have coffee with any of your characters, who would you pick and why?
A: Cecily and Alex are my favorite characters. I would want to grab coffee with one of them. Cecily, if I needed cheering up, and Alex if I just wanted to relax. They're both the kind of friends I want to have. 

Q: What song reminds you most of Janelle and Ben's situation?
A: I love music and there are so many songs that are really inspiring to me. Faith Hill's "Lost" was the song that really made me think of Janelle and Ben and how they felt about each other, and "Already Gone" by Kelly Clarkson is one of the songs that I listened to when I wrote the end of Unraveling--it's sad but beautiful.

Q: I really like how you put the countdown clock as the heading of each chapter. Was that something you originally planned to do, or did it come to you later?
A: That was something I planned to do right from the beginning. I knew that a lot of my chapters were going to be short and "chapter X" is a little boring. I wanted to introduce each chapter in a different way. The countdown was tricky though. I originally planned for 50 days and then as I was writing I realized there would be a lot less. But every time I changed my mind about the countdown or edited something, I realized I had to go back and redo all of the chapter headings, plus make sure the days of the week lined up with the calendar I was using and I wasn't sending the characters to school on a Sunday. It was more work than I originally realized. 

Q: I know it's probably not good to speculate, but UNRAVELING reads a lot like an action movie (at least that's how it played out in my head, haha), so I have to ask this. If UNRAVELING did become a movie, who would you have to play Janelle? What about Ben?
A: Thanks! I'm glad it reads like that. If it did become a movie and if I had anything to do with the casting, I would cast Hailee Steinfeld as Janelle. I saw her in True Grit and she was so wonderful, and she looks exactly how I picture Janelle. Ben is a lot tougher for me. I don't know many teen boy actors. When I was writing I pictured Ben as a sort of James Franco from his Freaks and Geeks days. I would love to hear what other people think.

Q: I read on your site that UNRAVELING has a sequel coming out (which I CANNOT wait for!), was it harder to write the sequel than it was to write the first book?
A: It was harder. In a good way, I think. First, I had never written anything on a deadline before and that was really hard for me to get used to. I had to sit down and write even if I didn't feel like it. I also really wanted to write a book that was different from Unraveling. So the characters are the same, but I wanted to make sure it didn't feel like it was the same story or not as exciting. I think I've done that though. I'm excited about how it's come together.

Q: Is UNRAVELING the first book you've ever written?
A: I have a number of books on my computer that I started, and a few of them I finished also. And "finished" as in I have a first draft. Unraveling is the first book I ever submitted to anyone and edited, and it's also the first one I ever let someone read! I've always been really shy about sharing my work. I guess that ends now! 

Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time to answer these questions! 

1 comment:

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVED THIS<3 I cannot wait for thesequel!! Ahhh <3


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