Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interview: Elizabeth Norris + Unraveling

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? 

In October 2010 I went to a writing conference in San Francisco and met and fell in love with my boyfriend. The writing conference was awesome—I met so many wonderful writers and had a great time. I saw several friends who lived in the area that I hadn’t seen in a while. And of course I met this guy who I just clicked with. We liked the same things, had endless interesting conversations, and on the last day, after the conference was over, we went around and toured San Francisco for the day.  It was one of those weekends where everything went right, and at the end of it when we both went to the airport to go to different cities, I knew that I loved him.

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.


  1. This sounds interesting. I like that there's a sci fi element but it's not too techy. I think that's what keeps me from getting into sci fi. Jenny - do you have any sci fi books you like?

  2. Oohh awesome! I have this for review and I can't wait to get stuck in. Donna xoxox

  3. Elizabeth!! I LOVED reading this interview because I just finished reading Unraveling and was five bucks shot of marrying it! x) What Janelle meant to Ben was one of the sweetest parts of the book, but I think I loved your answer to the romantic question best -- because I'm the exact same way! Romantic gestures are sweet, but I'd rather have a boy who knows what makes ME happy specifically and takes me out on surprising dates like that one :) <3

    Amazing interview, you two! If the world ended around me, I probably wouldn't have been able to this book down either, Jenny! LOL x)

  4. Awwww- I love happy love stories, sounds like that conference was the best thing ever...>:D

    Im super excited to read this one, already in my amazon cart......! Great interview ladies.

  5. The premise for this one really sounds have I not heard of it?! I blame you, of course.

    This interview was just fantastic though because now I want to read the book even more. Damn you, and your influence on my TBR!

  6. Alison - That's exactly what I liked about it! It was just technical enough to be believable, but not so technical I was completely lost. I really enjoyed it. I'll try and think of some sci fi books I've enjoyed and email you!

    Donna - Yay! Can't wait to see what you think:)

    Lilly - You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it:)

    Mimi - Hahahaha me too! I thought I might die a little at the end - I LOVE YOU BEN!

    Tina - I really loved this one, I honestly had no expectations for it whatsoever and it was amazing:)

  7. Melissa - Hahahah it is obviously totally my fault this one was not on your radar. I shall genuflect every day from now until BEA to make it up to you ;-)

  8. Unraveling sounds awesome! Not going to lie, I definitely had some pleasant Roswell flashbacks. Really looking forward to reading the book and your thoughts, Jenny!

  9. Great interview! Even though I know Liz, (I'm her agent!) I didn't know she had a subscription to Scientific American. It's always fun to learn these new things. Thanks for having her visit your blog.

  10. Jenny, thank you so much for interviewing me!

    Mimi, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. A guy who does little things just for me is always going to be more romantic than a guy who does big things to impress everyone else.

    Tina, it was a wonderful conference :) I'm so glad I went!

    Rummanah, Roswell was definitely an inspiration. I really enjoyed that show when I was a teen.

    Thank you again!

  11. Oh, I'll be adding this one to my wish list. Great interview!

  12. Just like you I loved this book, totally took me by surprise how much:-)
    This interview is the cutest, I always love your questions Jenny and how cute is it that Elisabeth met her BF on a writing confernce!!!

  13. I have this book and will be starting it ASAP. I can't wait. Great interview. I liked the question about the earthquake, I would grab my yellow Vera Bradley bag it has my ipad and kindle and everything is on them :)

  14. Rummanah - It does have a Roswell feel to it with the boy saving her life and everything and I LOVED that show. Totally obsessed with it:)

    Janet - Thank you so much stopping in and commenting!

    Liz - You're so welcome, I'm excited you had the time to answer my questions!

    Jennifer - YAY!

    Danny - Right? It wasn't really on my radar at all and then BAM, I loved it from the first page:)

    Heidi - Yay! Can't wait to see what you think of it! And I would grab my Kindle as well. I'd probably try stuffing some physical copies down my shirt and pants and running to safety:)

  15. That memory just about killed me with its sweetness. I had no idea writing conferences were the place to find your soulmate! :P
    I absolutely adored Unraveling, so this interview was super fun to read! Thanks! :)

  16. Once again, you did a great interview! I heart this book so much! It was awesome!!

  17. Freaky! I like it :)
    I need something special in my ya books

  18. My heart is melting all over that best memory story!! I want to go to a conference and meet my own writer boyfriend, or really just any type of boyfriend. LOL

    And you can never go wrong with chips and guaco!

    Love this interview and I cant wait to read the book!!!

  19. I'm with Missie... that story about meeting your bf sounds so swoony! That is such a total awwww moment. :)

  20. Lauren - Right? I need to attend more conferences:) Perhaps I'll let the husband tag along.

    Savy - Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it:)

    Linda - It definitely has it's freaky moments, I adored it.

    Missie - I would gladly eat chips and guacamole with you as the world is ending:)

    Melissa - I agree:)

  21. Lol, Jenny why would you be eating if you only have an hour left?

    I don't understand why anyone would brag about their romantic gestures. Duh, that stops it from being romantic! Great interview, Jenny!

  22. I love this interview! Thanks for asking such great questions Jenny - I think you know that I absolutely adored this book so it's wonderful to hear Elizabeth's answers. I love that she didn't elaborate on the unsolved case! I can't wait to discover more about that in her future books. ;)

  23. LOL--"butt-numbingly good". Definitely have been there, done that. And I think it's a perfectly legitimate rating for a book. This one sounds really interesting--I, too, am intrigued by the idea of parallel universes. Wouldn't it be cool?

  24. I think your author interview questions are the absolute best I've read ever anywhere. I'm not buttering you up for anything, but I had zero interest in this book, but getting to know the author and seeing a little insight into the book, I can't wait to read it! Thanks Jenny for an awesome interview and to Elizabeth Norris for the book!


  25. That's great you loved this one so much, Jenny! I like the title and the plot sounds interesting. Excellent interview.

  26. This is one book that I really need to read! Burt numbingly good, eh? Lol.
    Loved this interview! I'm working on a story with sci-fi elements and am struggling with how technical I should get. Its hard for me to balance that I guess. So huge kudos to Elizabeth for pulling it off!

  27. Yay, butt-numbingly good, haha! I just finished this and was a bit surprised by how much I loved it too! It really came out of nowhere because I hadn't heard much about it.

    Really lovely interview! Love the story of how she met her bf and her thoughts on the ideal marriage proposal. And I can't wait to read about that case that Janelle's father was never able to solve!

  28. Yeahh this book sounds absolutelu amazing :) !! I actually hadn't realized it was coming out so soon . That's great ! Thanks for the fab interview Jenny !

  29. I already knew that I was going to read this one but now I'm even more excited about it! I'm glad to know it has butt-numbing powers! Haha! :) I think if I'd eat one food before the end of the world I'd eat raspberries or macaroni and cheese!

  30. That's cool she met her bf at a writing conference! I have this book for review. I started to read it and was really interested but had to put it down because I had to finish a couple of other books. But I'm definitely going to pick it up again! I love the mystery. Awesome interview :)

  31. Fabulous interview, Jenny & Elizabeth! I have a copy of this book sitting on shelf, and I can't wait to devour it:) Wow...Janelle's dad is an FBI agent? That is AWESOME.

  32. Okay, this is one that I haven't read! And the more I'm starting to see it around, the more I wish I had read and reviewed it. I think this is one, for me, that everyone's opinions and reviews are better than the synopsis/summary.

    Great interview ladies! I completely agree about the chips and guacamole!!!