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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.
From author's website.
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Page Count: 445 pages
Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and 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 even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.1. What/who was your biggest inspiration in writing Unraveling?
But her revival, 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 murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.
From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.
My inspiration came from a number of places, some more likely than others. I've always loved the idea of star-crossed lovers. Even in The Great Gatsby, Gatsby and Daisy are from such different worlds that it keeps them from being together...at least in the beginning. I was also in a long distance relationship when I started writing Unraveling and it really had me focused on the two people from different worlds aspect.
But I also really love science fiction, and television shows like The X-Files, Roswell, and Fringe definitely served as inspiration. I really wanted to read a book that pulled from the elements of science that I really found interesting.
2. Who was your favorite character to write?
A lot of the supporting characters are my favorite. I love Cecily and Elijah and Struz, but my favorite is Alex. He's Janelle's best friend and an extension of her family--he's the kind of best friend I think some of us are really lucky to have.
3. Who was your least favorite character to write?
I'm not sure he's my least favorite, because I love him, but Ben was the toughest character to write. First he's a little mysterious and secretive, especially in the beginning, and it's a hard balance to make him guarded but interesting and then even a little suspicious but still attractive. I didn't want him to be too perfect, but his flaws had to make people like him despite of them. Even more than that, I wanted him to be a character that has always looked out for Janelle and loved her a little from afar without coming across like a stalker. So these were all elements of his character and his backstory that I brainstormed before I started writing Unraveling, and then they were things I thought about as I wrote and when I went back to revise to try to make sure that I had done him justice.
4. What kind of research did you have to do while writing Unraveling?
I actually didn't do too much research. I taught at a high school for several years so a lot of the high school scenes are inspired by what I knew. The AP English scene where Ben and Janelle debate is an off shoot of a lesson plan I used to teach about comparing persuasive strategies in fictional marriage proposals. San Diego is a world I'm very familiar with and it was really fun to think of all the places there that I loved and incorporate them into the book. I have a friend who works for the FBI and I read Scientific American each month so I used elements of what I'd heard and read to draw from.
But I did do research on multiverse theory before I started writing. I read everything I could find on it--from scientific journals to random personal pages on the internet. I don't necessarily have a great grasp on quantum physics or anything, but I didn't want the story to get bogged down with scientific explanations either. So I just thought about everything I read and tried to create a world I could believe.
5. Are any of your characters based off of someone you know in real life?
Not purposely. I would worry too much about people who didn't think my fiction portrayal of them was flattering. But at the same time, when I look at the book and the characters, I see glimmers of different people I know and love in all of them.
6. There are a lot of sci fi elements in Unraveling, but what genre would you classify it as?
I suppose it's a romantic science fiction thriller. :) But if I had to narrow it down to one genre, I would say it's a thriller. There's (literally) a ticking clock and the stakes are of the "save the world" proportion.
7. Janelle is faced with the task of saving the world, how do you think you would react to having that responsibility on your shoulders?
I don't think I could do it. Janelle is smart but she's also really tough. She has a few moments where we see the pressure getting to her, but she handles herself under that pressure better than I've ever been able to.
8. If you weren't a writer, what career would you want to have the most?
For a long time I really wanted to be a flight attendant so that I could travel the world. I'm not sure I'm awesome enough when it comes to customer service (being friendly in the middle of a transatlantic flight must be tough sometimes), but I think it would be pretty amazing.
9. I absolutely LOVED me some Ben... will we be seeing more Ben in the next book?
Absolutely. I also love Ben so it would be hard to write another book about Janelle without him.
10. Convince me to read Unraveling Twitter style: in less than 140 characters.
UNRAVELING is a gripping story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.
Make sure you check out my 5 star review for UNRAVELING: HERE
And make sure you check out the other stops on the tour!
Wednesday 4/18: Liz Norris
Thursday 4/19: Magical Urban Fantasy Reads
Friday 4/20: Two Chicks on Books
Monday 4/23: Justin's Book Blog
Tuesday 4/24: Release Day
Wednesday 4/25: My Five Monkeys
Thursday 4/26: Good Choice Reading
Friday 4/27: Mindy Ruiz
Monday 4/30: Literary ExplorationThursday 5/3: Shortie Says