Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Norris

Today's guest is Elizabeth Norris, author of the upcoming debut novel UNRAVELING (April 24th!). I met Elizabeth through our editor, Kristin, and was privileged to read an advance copy of her book. It had me at the edge of my seat from the word Go! If Fringe and Veronica Mars had a baby, this book would be it. Full of heart-stopping action, fringe-y science, mystery, romance, and characters who are both complicated and relatable, this is a book worth devouring. If that doesn't convince you, let me add this. 1. There's a debate scene that will melt your face off. 2. There's a countdown. Literally. To the end of the world. 3. You won't see the ending coming.

Here's a peek at UNRAVELING:

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.

Elizabeth decided to take on the ever-suave Captain Jack Sparrow. Let's meet today's guests.

Captain Jack Sparrow

Elizabeth Norris

Of course, before we get to the interview itself, we get to see the cupcake my hubby designed in honor of UNRAVELING. I mentioned a countdown (literally) to the end of the world, right? Well, my hubby decided to make an end of the world cupcake. It is both edible and apocalyptic. Without further ado, I give you Elizabeth vs. Captain Jack and the cupcake that will end the world in 3 - 2 - 1.

1. Would you classify yourself as a pirate or a member of Her Majesty’s Royal navy? Why?

Pirate. Most of the time I tend to deviate from rules and structure. For instance, I don’t even like to write in chronological order. I’ll write scenes, snippets of dialogue, and descriptions, and then eventually throw them into the manuscript somewhere. I’m also a big fan individualism.

2. Darling, I like your style. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tortuga?

Pirate watch! I’m more on the introverted side anyway, which means that in large groups of people, I do more observing than anything else. I love to people watch wherever I go (Time Square is another great place to just watch people and what they’re doing). Unique clothing and hairstyles, interesting behavior—it all captivates my attention and sometimes is really inspiring.

3. I'm all for watching people, as long as we're keeping a running tally of all the shiny valuables we're planning to remove from their personage in the very near future. I’m offering you free passage aboard my ship to anywhere in the world. Where shall we go, love?

Oh, this is tough. I’d be game for going just about anywhere. I’m a huge fan of sun, sand, and warm water so there are a number of tropical islands I’m dying to vacation to (like Fiji, Tahiti, St. Lucia, etc). I’d also love to take an Alaskan cruise because I’ve heard how lovely some of the views are. But I guess if I had to pick just one place I’m dying to go, it would be Greece. (I actually tried to go once when I was studying abroad in college, but I was traveling by bus and ended up having to go back to Budapest where I was staying instead). In addition to the beautiful setting, it has so much history and culture that I’d love to be able to see firsthand.

4. I know this lovely string of islands where the tediously loyal members of His Majesty's Royal Navy never visit. Who is the hero of your story most like: me (savvy, debonair, and unquestionably smooth with the ladies), the insufferably honorable Will Turner, or that deceptive little minx Elizabeth?

My main character, Janelle Tenner, is probably a mix of all three. She’s definitely savvy. Her dad is in the FBI so she knows a lot of things that he taught her and a few things he didn’t. But she’s also pretty honorable and definitely focused on saving the people she loves.

5. Savvy and honorable? An intriguing combination. Rum? Or more rum?

The more the merrier.

6. A woman after my own callous heart. Which leads me to the age old question: Why is the rum always gone?

Probably because it’s good.

7. *gives you the side eye* You're a lovely wench, there's no denying. But if you consume all of my rum, I'll strand you on a deserted island faster than you can say Tortuga. What’s the most piratish thing you’ve ever done?

When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher had a lot of boxes that she needed to load into her car. She asked me and two of my friends to carry them out to the parking lot and put them in her trunk. We did.

But we couldn’t just stop there. To play a joke on her, I drove her car around the back of the school and parked it in substitute parking.

Luckily she was the kind of teacher who loved a good prank. The next day my desk was missing from our classroom and she told me she walked around for fifteen minutes looking for it so I’d have to stand all period.

It was worth it.

8. You have potential, my dear. A true pirate would've driven to the nearest chop shop, sold the car for parts, and then used the money for more rum. Are they rules? Or more like guidelines?

Guidelines. If we listened to every rule and never challenged those rules, nothing in our society would ever change. We’d still be ruled by Her Majesty!

When I was in high school, I read Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and he said “[A person] has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws” and that always stuck with me.

9. I find any law that denies me what I want to be highly unjust. I understand you’re a story-teller. Any undead monkeys in your stories?

No undead monkeys in Unraveling, but there is a sequel so maybe one will turn up there.

10. Any curses? Heartless monsters? Irritating women who insist on taking matters into their own hands?

No curses or monsters. Unraveling is pretty grounded in reality (and then some science fiction). But it does have a countdown that’s possibly to the end of the world and an Unidentified Improvised Explosive Device, which is a fancy way of saying a potential bomb that no one can figure out how to stop.

And Janelle is definitely one of those girls who insists on taking matters into her own hands (I’m a huge fan of those girls, after all I am one). She’s also someone who is aware of her own limitations. There are even several times that she recognizes that she’s gotten in over her head, but at the same time, she knows this is a mystery she has to see through to the end—she has to solve it.

11. Usually, I'm not a fan of women taking matters into their own hands. The last one who did that landed me in the belly of the Kraken. But since this one is trying to save me from the end of the world, I'll make an exception. One of my favorite words is “egregious.” Care to share one of yours, love?

I love the word “sporadic.” I love the way it sounds and I love anything without a pattern.

12. Parlay? Or draw your sword?

I always try to parlay first, but I won’t hesitate to draw my sword if it’s needed.

13. That's my girl. You’ve got a crowd of cursed sailors and a nasty sea monster on your trail. How do you escape?

I would hope one of my best friends was with me. She’s the type to walk into a room and always plan exactly how she’s going to escape if the zombie apocalypse starts. I’m not a big planner when it comes to escapes, but I am a pretty good runner and a really good swimmer, so I’d hopefully be able to use one of those skills.

14. I say toss your friend to the monsters and then swim for it while they're distracted. Romantic night in? Or adventure on the high seas?

Why not both? Adventure first, then some quiet time alone. There’s nothing like adventure to get your heart rate up and make you appreciate the people you love.

15. Both it is. My personal motto is: Take what you want, give nothing back. What’s yours?

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

Thank you, Elizabeth, for such an entertaining interview. To learn more about Elizabeth, visit her site. To pre-order your copy of UNRAVELING, visit Indie Bound, Books a Million, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Of course, the fun isn't over yet! Elizabeth is offering a pre-order of UNRAVELING to one lucky commenter. To enter, simply fill out the form below and be sure to leave a comment in the Blogger comment box at the end of the post. The contest is open to North American residents and will run until 8 p.m. Central Time Monday, April 2nd.

Good luck and happy reading!


  1. Arr mateys. I quite enjoyed this interview! I will sail across the seven seas for a copy of this book!!

  2. Unravel sound so cool. Can't wait to read it. Great interview Captain!

  3. cant wait for this book, sounds great :)

  4. This interview was so fun! LOL I am a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan so I was giggling throughout! OMG and that prank was hilarious! I don't think I would have ever had the guts to do something like that! Thank you for the giveaway! I was just talking to a friend the other day about how we couldn't wait to read this! :)

  5. Awesome interview!!! That cupcake is fantastic!!! Thanks for the giveaway as well! :-D

  6. These interviews are way too fun. I had so much fun reading it - both Liz's answers and the fact I'm a HUGE Pirates of the Caribbean fan :)

  7. Most hardcore cupcake I have ever seen!

  8. O.O I need to make cupcakes like that!! I'm also a huge fan of Jack Sparrow...naturally :D

  9. I cannot wait for this book! I've been counting the days. :)

  10. I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds very interesting.

  11. Great interview. Ive been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it.

  12. I love these interviews XD I like the words "egregious" and "sporadic" as well. I'm SO looking forward to Unraveling. I've heard nothing but good things about it!

  13. Thank you so much for the interview CJ!

  14. Hilarious! "Guidelines," indeed--inspiration for all of us who worry that what we're inspired to write doesn't *quite* fit the mold.

    This sounds like an awesome book.

  15. Hahaha, I loved your prank! Good thing your teacher had a sense of humor. : ] This is one of the books I'm most looking forward to reading. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  16. Great interview. And that cupcake is fab.

  17. Heh, that was fun! :D I really can't wait to read it! :)

  18. It sounds like an interesting world with the countdown. I wonder the characters would deal. Thanks for a fun interview.

  19. The cupcakes just keep getting better and better.

  20. Sounds interesting, can't wait to read it!

  21. Sounds great! I'm intrigued by the premise. And the cupcake. XD I'll have to get my hands on it somehow. ;)

  22. Oooooooooh! I hope I win! I hope I win! ... I mean, good luck to everyone! ;-)

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy - I cant wait to read UNRAVELING!!

  23. Jajaja, well, sure a pirate's fan would be such a bad girl~

  24. Throw a pirate into the sequel. Nothing is so good a little pirate can't improve it.


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