What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Elizabeth Norris. Up until a few years ago I lived in San Diego, but now I live in New York City, which is fabulous except for the cold weather.Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I always loved writing, but for a while I wanted to be a flight attendant because of all the amazing places they get to travel. Before I started writing full time I taught at a high school in San Diego. Some of my students were the most brilliant people I've ever met. It was a wonderful experience.Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
My first published book, UNRAVELING, comes out in April. But it's actually the twelfth book that I've written. I finished my first novel when I was 18 and I just kept writing new projects.
But UNRAVELING was special. I gave the manuscript and synopsis to my agent and she sold it in a day!
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My debut novel is title UNRAVELING and it will be released from Balzer+Bray on April 24th, 2012. It's a romantic YA thriller featuring Janelle Tenner, a seventeen-year-old girl's fight to save her family, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
My ideas usually start with a relationship. I'm a romantic at heart, and as much as I love a great plot, I read books and watch movies and TV for the character relationships. Unraveling began because I came up with Ben and Janelle's relationship: he's always been a little in love with her and she has no idea, and there's a big reason they can't be together. Once I have the main relationship, I start thinking about each of the characters, and then I brainstorm the plot.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I don't have a desk (actually I have one, but my boyfriend comandeered it for his gaming computer) so I sit at my kitchen table and write. I actually like it better than the desk so it works well. I usually make a playlist of songs that feel right for the plot and the characters, and I listen to it on repeat while a write.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do. Right now, at this stage of my career, it's really hard not to. It's so interesting to know that there are people I don't know out there and they're reading something I wrote. I'm intrigued to know what they think. I also want to continue to grow as a writer. I want to know what people like about the book and what they don't. Obviously it won't change this book, but I think taking people's thoughts and observations into account will help me become a better writer.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
No. Of course it hurts when someone doesn't like or doesn't get the book since it's so close to my heart. But there's no one book everyone can like.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Places are easy. I try to use places that really exist. Unraveling is set in San Diego, near where I used to live. All of the places in the story are not only real places, but they're places I've been to before. To me, that makes it feel like the setting is sort of it's own character in the novel. I don't think it would be exactly the same story if it was set somewhere else.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I used to have a really hard time finishing novels. I would write about 20,000 words and then get stuck and move onto a new project. Because of that, I try to plot out everything first. I need to know the beginning, the end, and most of the middle before I even start writing. That way I can't get stuck and give up. There are still some tough scenes, but it's easier to push through them if I know where they have to go. And sometimes the writing does surprise me and take me somewhere I didn't expect, but the framework of the story is planned in advance.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I try to walk a lot. (This is easier for me when it's warmer). Walking through a park always gives me time to be away from my computer and phone so that I can recharge and think. It helps me de-stress. I also am a huge fan of TV, particularly of The Game of Thrones on HBO. I've read all the books (so far), and it's wonderful to see it on screen.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
This is just based on my experiences, but I was a teacher (at the high school level) before I got into writing, and one of my biggest complaints is that the creativity has been sucked out of curriculum because of standardized tests. I'm not saying those aren't important, but I know that I had so many students who didn't read the books we read for class because they couldn't connect with the classics and as a result they decided they didn't like reading. There are so many wonderful books out there, and it would be great if schools could incorporate them more into their curriculum more in order to encourage a love of reading. After all, reading critically and thinking critically are what's important and that can be done no matter what you read.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I always loved reading. My parents tricked me into loving it when I was a kid because every time I finished a book, they would get me a present (the present was always a new book). I did, for the most part, really enjoy all the books I read in school, but it wasn't until after college that I really discovered a lot of the fabulous books that are out there.
I've written for as long as I can remember. The idea of getting published is pretty new though. A friend of mine who works at a literary agency read the beginning of Unraveling, and really encouraged me. I wouldn't be here if he hadn't told me I should really try to get it published.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Unraveling/294314583964949
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073459.Elizabeth_Norris