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Author Interview - Elizabeth Norris + Giveaway

Thursday, July 19, 2012
Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing with Elizabeth Norris, whose debut novel Unraveling came out April 24th.

Book Synopsis
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, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow 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 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.

Author Bio
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.

Would you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a YA author?
I always really loved to write. When I was younger, I would go to "bed" and turn off all the lights and then write in a notebook with only a flashlight. I taught high school students in San Diego for several years and writing a YA novel seemed to come pretty naturally.


I read that your long-distance relationship with your boyfriend inspired Unraveling. What other experiences did you draw upon for the writing?
My teaching experiences were definitely an inspiration. The high school Janelle goes to has some similarities to the high school where I taught, and the classroom scenes are books and lessons that I taught. I also drew on the different relationships in my life as I plotted the book and thought about all of the characters. None of Janelle's relationships with her friends or parents are quite the same as mine but a lot of the emotion that she goes through is inspired by what I've gone through.


It's cool how you took past experiences and turned them into something different for your characters. What would Janelle and Ben say to someone facing the possibility of a long-distance relationship?
It's going to be hard. The emotional highs and lows will be exhausting and there will be times you want to just throw in the towel. You just have to hold onto the good moments and remember why you got into this relationship in the first place.


Great advice! Sci-fi, the FBI, and bipolar disorder. You hit some heavy topics in Unraveling. What kind of research did you do for the book?
I actually didn't do too much research. I have a subscription to Scientific American and they've done some really great articles that served as inspiration for the science fiction elements in the book. As did a number of the sci fi movies and television shows that I've watched.

A friend of mine from high school works for the FBI now and he was inspiration for Janelle's dad and Struz, and while I was plotting Unraveling I got a really bad case of flu and was home sick for a week which I spent watching the first two seasons of Lie to Me. That inspired me to do a little research on perception. I kept thinking with a dad in the FBI, it would be really hard to lie to or trick your parents.

The biopolar disorder was also something that I've seen firsthand, and I read a few articles about the disorder and the effects it had on people who lived with someone who wasn't completely functional on their own.


That's a great arsenal of resources you have there. Haha... I imagine it'd be hard to lie to a parent with the FBI. I saw that you like to outline before writing. During the drafting process, did the story change or surprise you in any way?
I do outline, and my outlines tend to be pretty elaborate. My outline for Unbreakable, the sequel, was over thirty pages. Without outlining I would write myself into corners and probably not be able to finish anything. I still do manage to surprise myself though. I get a little surprised while I'm outlining. I'll think of something dismiss it and then think of something crazier and know I have to make it work.

Then when I'm writing every once in a while things change. I'll be working on a scene and it won't matter what the outline says, I'll move in a slightly different direction. I've killed characters when I'm writing a scene even though they're in the rest of the outline. But the real surprises come after I've written the first draft and I go back over the manuscript to do a read through and edit. For instance Cecily wasn't even a character in my first draft of Unraveling, and Janelle and Ben didn't go on a date in the first draft either.


I'm glad Janelle and Ben's date made it into the novel, though Janelle's day out with her brother is a close rival! What do you feel makes Janelle such an endearing and relatable character?
I think Janelle is real and that makes her relatable. She's got flaws and somewhat of an attitude. She's made mistakes and she makes some in the book too. She's misjudged people and been wrapped up in her own problems, but she's tough too and she's trying to do the right thing, and she's not too proud to learn from her own mistakes. At least, those are the things I like about her.


I love Janelle for her misperfections as well, but the biggest factor that made her so relatable to me was family. Janelle looks out for her brother--as a big sister too, I was able to relate to her feelings--and she has a strong relationship with her father. How important was the idea of family when writing Unraveling?
Family was really important to me as I was writing. I think parents and family are a big influence on most teenagers, even if the parents are absent. For Janelle, the person she is has to do with the experiences and the personalities of her family as much as the experiences she's had on her own.


That's true. I wouldn't be who I am today without my family. Many of the characters have dealt with pain and loss. If you could talk to them, what would you say?
I think I'd probably say the same thing to any of them. "I'm sorry. It sucks now, but you'll get through this."


Would you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
Unbreakable is finished so I'm working on my third book. It's a YA mystery featuring a teenage girl who wakes up barefoot, in the middle of the woods with no memory of the last four days, only to find out that her best friend is dead and her sister is missing.





Elizabeth Norris has offered a signed copy of Unraveling to two winners. One U.S winner and one international winner! The giveaway is open through August 2nd.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview (in the comment, also let us know if you're entering for the U.S. copy or the international copy). Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Unraveling. Then fill out the form below. Do not leave your email in the comments section.


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80 comments on "Author Interview - Elizabeth Norris + Giveaway"
  1. It's really amazing how much we learn from and are influenced by our families! And I think that it makes for a powerful read when the characters have *problems* they must deal with/overcome!
    Terrific interview and many thanks for the sweet giveaway :)
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

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  2. Great interview. I really like how it seemed like a conversation.

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  3. Family is a big influence, cause our first environment growing up is our family.

    International :)

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  4. I LOVE the interview I will also be keeping my eye out for Elizabeth Norris' new book now lol:)
    -JennyC

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  5. Awesome interview! I can't wait to read Unraveling. Thanks for the chance to win!

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  6. It's nice to know bits of inspiration about the book. :)

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  7. Great interview Kris and Elizabeth. It's great hearing about Elizabeth's writing process. I loved this book and am giving away my ARC so I'd love to win a copy. I can't wait for the sequel.

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  8. I am looking forward to reading this book. Really enjoyed the interview also. Thanks for the chance to win this.

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  9. I love the interview. Elizabeth sounds so awesome. *Wants to meet her.* :) I loved Unraveling. <3 Found it to be so amazing ;) Would LOVE a signed copy. <3 entering for the international giveaway :)
    Love, Carina

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  10. Rebecca HipworthJuly 19, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Unbreakable sounds so good and so does her WIP. :)

    I'm International.
    Thanks for the giveaway :)

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  11. "I always really loved to write. When I was younger, I would go to "bed" and turn off all the lights and then write in a notebook with only a flashlight."

    I used to do that too! :p
    I love when authors put a little of their lives in the books, it makes them a little more real in a way.

    (international)

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  12. Unraveling sounds very thought provoking. I had no idea that it dealt with such deep issues. I look forward to reading it.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Great interview! I love that Unraveling deals with serious issues along with the main storyline. It sounds really interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  14. It's nice to see YA with such serious topics. And a sci-fi fantasy that we can actually relate to. :) the cover is beautiful, but it's the blurb that really sucks you in.

    thanks for the chance!

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  15. I've had this book on my TBR list for a long time. Wonderful interview and thank you for the giveaway!

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  16. I love that she's a former teacher. I love to see teachers get into this business! I really want to read this book. Thanks for doing this interview and having the giveaway!

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  17. Ooh, the new book she's working on sounds fantastic!

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  18. Awesome interview. I didn't realize such heavy topics were used in her story. That makes me want to read it all the more!

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  19. I didn't knew the book and the writer but I loved so much this cover that I quickly searched about it.
    Now, I want to read this book.

    Thanks for the giveaway.
    I'll try the international copy :)

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  20. Ooh, the YA mystery that Elizabeth is working on sounds realllly intriguing! Can't wait to find out more about that one! :))

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  21. What a wonderful interview!! It is so true, that tough times build character. I wouldn't be who I am today without going through the hard things that pop up in life. It's rewarding to get to the other side.

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  22. I love hearing about the author's writing process and the book. I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  23. I would love to read UNRAVELING thank you. It looks amazing. A great interview.

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  24. Great interview! Love hearing about the inspiration for parts of the story, like sci-fi, FBI, and bipolar elements. Sounds like a complex read, which can be rare in YA novels.

    Thanks for the giveaway,
    Leanne

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  25. I like that the story has strong family ties. It can say a lot about a character to act like a big sister or brother!

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  26. Her third book sounds intriguing! I'm already looking forward to read it :)
    Thanks a lot for the giveaway!

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  27. That is a really fantastic interview! It's interesting that she doesn't do much research. I haven't read Unraveling yet, but I'm intrigued. I love sci-fi and can't wait to see what sort is woven into the story.

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  28. I did not so much was going on in this book with the scifi, FBI, and bipolar disorder this book looks like a great read. I loved the show Lie to Me and it's great to see that it may have helped to influence this book! Thanks for the chance at this great giveaway!

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  29. I love when authors can tie in their own personal experience to their writing. It not only makes writing a lot easier, but research as well. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  30. Doing all that research wow! Thanks for the great interview and giveaway!

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  31. Wow, I've been dying for this book! And wow, your classmate's now an FBI agent? Cool! :) And I suspect my teacher last year was bipolar... shh, don't tell her I said that! :P And I seriously want to read this all the more because my name is Jenelle! Close enough with Janelle. ;)

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    1. Oh, and entering for the US one!

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    2. I love the cover, FBI agent? amazing....
      Thank you so much for the review, great job and I entered the international one!

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  32. I love how the novel touches some very relevant topic (bipolar disorder!) and it's really interesting to see how they fit into a YA novel!

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  33. Great interview!
    It's really cool hearing about Elizabeth's writing process :)

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  34. OMG this has been on my to read list forever and after reading the review (WOW) I want it that much more :D

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  35. I agree that parents and family are really big influences on teenagers. Parents influence us to be better people, but too little of an influence or not enough attention could turn us in the wrong direction. The way they view us and treat us is really important, and I like it when novels show that.

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  36. Its nice that you have drawn a lot from your own experiences, i find it makes books more believable.

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  37. No way! A FBI friend! That's so freaking cool!! Wow!
    I learned a lot of things while I watch Lie to Me. Great show!
    Thanks for the giveaway - (ileana-rafflecopter)
    INTL copy

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  38. The new book shes writing sounds awesome :D :D!! can't wait!

    thanks for the giveawaay!!

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  39. I'm really looking forward to this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  40. Can't wait to read this! Hope I win :)

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  41. Great interview. I was glad it was spoiler-free :) It's natural that when you are writing you'll get inspiration from you life and your family. Haven't read the book but heard so many good things about it, I can't wait to read it. Thank you for the giveaway! INT entry.

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  42. always love reading interview with author especially to know the processing of their book until came out :)

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  43. Awesome interview! I definitely agree that family is a huge part of every person's life and my parents have influenced me so much. :)
    Thanks for the giveaway! :D

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  44. I am a writer myself and I definitely agree with you on parents having a great influence on the writing process. Mine did anyways.

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  45. Outlining is pretty good advice for any writer. I've tried to just sit down and write my story, but that never works out well. I "write myself into corners", as was mentioned. But on the other hand, every time I write one idea, I think of a new one. So I like to have a non-elaborate outline. I guess it differs for everyone.

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  46. I think its great that she get a lot of influence through her parents and the people around her. Great interview!

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  47. Sweetness! Sounds like she is a blast! I guess I'll have to have her on my blog. Rock on!

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  48. I heard of this book a while ago, and loved reading this interview! I've always wanted to be an author and it's really cool hearing advice from a real author that could affect my career. International.

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  49. No way! I live in San Diego! I wonder which school she taught at. Great interview! I can't wait to read this one!
    U.S.

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  50. I love science fiction, and this books sounds great

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  51. Such an interesting interview. A friend in the FBI !! WOOOW!! :) Long relationships are the hardest, but if it's true love, distance won't be an obstacle! I added her to my TBR list. I can't wait to read the book, the cover is like a calling for everyone to read the book!! Beautiful and fierce!
    INT copy! Thanks for doing the giveaway international!

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  52. I love the interview! I´ve never had a long distance relationship but I want to see how are they going to make it work?

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  53. Love the interview, especially the long distance relationship advice. I can't wait to see what happens with Ben and Janelle next!

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  54. Thanks for the interview. I, too, loved hiding under the covers with a light to read and write! Great giveaway.

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  55. I totally love this interview! very informative and to think she finished the 2nd book already! can't wait for it! Thanks for the chance!

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  56. I've been hearing such great things about this book. Hopefully I'll read it soon.

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  57. This was one of my favorite books of 2012 so far, so this interview made me want to read it all over again!

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  58. I read a lot of reviews on this book but I haven't really knew what it is about... Now i know and OH MY GOD, DO WANT.
    I also write aat night, with flashlight only. :D

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  59. Really want to read this book !!! *_*

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  60. This books is so good ! Loved it!

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  61. May I say how much I love the cover!

    I'd like to enter for the INT copy.

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  62. I'm loving the sound of the new book she is working on.

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  63. Great Interview! Totally can't wait to read Unraveling :) I love how she took inspiration from her friend working in the FBI (which is pretty cool :D). Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

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  64. I always get the feeling a book gets a whole new dimension when I've read an interview with the author. I haven't read Unraveling yet, but the synopsis sounds intriguing. You don't read a book about the end of the world every day! (well, I don't) Great interview!

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  65. Great interview :) I loved reading how she wrote the story & her inspirations :) I haven't read it yet, but it got me even more excited about this book, and I already really wanted to read it :)

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    1. And thanks for this amazing giveaway, especially for making one of the copies international :)

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  66. I would love to read Unbreakable! Sounds so mysterious and exciting! :)

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  67. Her third book sounds great! Really loved the advice she had there. I completely agree with it.

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  68. I love how she pretends to go to bed and then will write in her notebook. That's pretty much like me. :)

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  69. I am SO looking forward to reading Unraveling. *Nudges it up even higher on TBR list*
    Her third book sounds really intriguing as well. I am excited for ALL OF THE THINGS.

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  70. Great interview!! Can't wait to read Unraveling!

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  71. Great interview, love her honest answers. I love all the elements she included in Unraveling. Not just Sci-Fi but so much more. The book she is writting now sounds very intriguing.

    Thank you for the international giveaway Elizabeth.

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  72. What a great interview! I absolutely adored this book! One of the best I've read this summer!

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  73. Great interview! I think my students would really love this book. An autographed copy for my classroom library would be awesome! :)

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  74. Unraveling sounds really interesting. I'm intrigued by the fact that Norris kept the parents as part of the plot device. Often in YA the parents are absent physically or mentally, setting as a catalyst for the rest of the book.

    I loved Lie to Me. I'm also really intrigued by different people's level of perception and body language awareness. What a lovely interview!(U.S.)

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  75. This looks intriguing. I always enjoy hearing about the author's thoughts and work put into these creative ideas.

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  76. I am glad to hear that family plays such a big role in this book.

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  77. I still have yet to read this but it does sound very good; I know a lot of people love it. :) I also really enjoyed the excerpt on Harper Collins' website, it was certainly intriguing! :)

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