Today I'm thrilled to welcome young adult author Elizabeth Norris to the blog to answer a few questions about her upcoming novel Unraveling. Unraveling is a book I hadn't heard much about when I picked it up, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I cracked the spine. Color me pleasantly surprised and thoroughly impressed! I fell in love with this book and devoured it one sitting despite its 450 page length. I couldn't really feel my butt or my legs when I was finished, but it was definitely worth it. I think maybe that could be a new rating for me: butt-numbingly good. Win.
When Janelle gets hit by the truck, she flashes on one of her happiest memories of her and her mother. If you had to pick a favorite memory right this minute, what would it be?
Janelle has a slight emotional advantage over Ben given she’s able to see herself briefly through his eyes when he’s with her at the scene of the accident. Let’s say Janelle is somehow able to project similar snippets of her feelings for him after all the events of Unraveling take place, what might he learn about himself through her?
Janelle was so afraid of opening herself up to love, and Ben really surprised her. In their English class debate (and later), he challenged her. He’s smart and because of his experiences he made her question things about herself and the world around her. He’s also so thoughtful and he makes her feel cared about. And he has a strength to him. Over the last seven years he’s been through something she can’t really imagine, and he hasn’t given up.
If there were an actual countdown to the end of the world and you had one hour left, what’s one food you would make sure you ate before the clock hit zero?
Really spicy guacamole and tortilla chips. I have skipped dinner after eating entirely too many chips and guacamole.
There’s a science fiction element running throughout Unraveling, but luckily for us you never bombard us with technical terms or overwhelm us with various scientific theories. Is there one specific part of the science fiction aspect that was especially easy or difficult for you to wrap your head around?
Thinking of it was really easy when I started out. I have a subscription to Scientific American so even though I made things up as I went along, certain elements were definitely inspired by articles I’d read. I love the idea of multiverse theory and parallel universes. It was after the first draft of Unraveling was done and one of my readers or my editor were asking questions, like “why does this happen?” or “can you explain this more” that I had to dig a little deeper and even reread certain articles or do some research and brainstorm some ideas.
Janelle is no stranger to loss in this story. If she caught her mom in one of her more lucid moments, do you think there is one thing in particular she’d really want to say to her?
She would say, “I’ve missed you.” She’s really grown up without a mother figure in her life, and I think both of her parents, through no fault of their own, haven’t really been there for her the way she wanted them to. I think it’s something a lot of us can relate to. But with her mom especially, Janelle hasn’t had the chance to have mother/daughter moments. I think she’d want to share a bowl of ice cream and tell her mom about Ben and how awesome he is.
You’re sitting in your house when suddenly an earthquake hits. What one material possession do you grab and protect from being destroyed?
My laptop for sure. It has all my pictures and all the novels I’ve started or thought about on it.
Janelle’s FBI father has one case he’s yet to solve that haunts him each and every day. Can you tell us if we’ll ever see it solved in future books?
Janelle shares her “ideal” marriage proposal with Ben and her entire class in probably one of my favorite moments in the book. What romantic, humorous, or blunt question might someone have to ask to get you to take a chance on them?
I’m not sure if there’s anything specific. I dated a guy once who used to make these super romantic sweeping gestures, and at first I loved it, but then he would spend the next few months telling everyone about the wonderful thing he did for me. And it really started to bother me—those romantic gestures are romantic because it’s two people sharing them. When you start sharing that moment with everyone else, it becomes less personal. But I am a huge fan of surprises. I love when someone calls me and says, “We’re going out tomorrow night, dress warm” and then we go ice skating (or something like that).
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Elizabeth! Unraveling releases April 24th from Balzer + Bray, and I hope everyone adds it to their lists! More information on Elizabeth and her books can be found here:
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.
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.