Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Blog Tour: Between review and Q&A

Between – Jessica Warman

Pages: 437 (ARC)
Publisher: Egmont UK
Release Date: 3rd October 2011

I scream again, loud enough to wake everyone for a mile around.

Elizabeth Valchar has it all: beauty, a cute boyfriend and assured popularity. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she is found drowned next to her parents’ boat.

Everyone thinks it was a tragic accident – teens drinking on a boat, a misstep leading to a watery grave. But Liz is still here after death and she doesn’t know why. There are gaps in her memory.

Accompanied by Alex, a boy killed a year earlier, Liz sets out to piece together her life.

But their small coastal town is hiding many secrets – about families, boyfriends and friendships. Plus, Alex hates Liz for being mean when they were alive. Was she as squeaky clean as she thinks she was? Could it be that she herself is hiding the biggest secret of them all?

Can Liz discover the truth? And if she doesn’t who can she tell?

Between is a tale of mysteries, betrayals and complex relationships.

When Liz wakes up to find herself dead, she knows nothing about the last year of her life or how she died. The method of being sucked into sporadic memories as a way a relearning what she had forgotten was fascinating and I loved it. Each memory revealed a snippet of information that would eventually fit together to paint a picture of her last year and would lead to explain her death. I have to admit that I had guessed elements of the mystery surrounding her death so instead of being shocked I was a little smug at guessing right! However, it will definitely be a nice twist for those who don’t see it coming.

Although Liz was the focus of the novel I found that I did not connect with her at all. In the years leading up to her death she was the type of girl that would have made my days at secondary school a living nightmare, if she ever spoke to me, of course. The Liz who rediscovered all of this was a very different girl, however, and I almost liked her. There was a lot more to her than you’d think.

All of the questions of the novel surrounded Liz but I wanted to know more about Alex. He was always on the sidelines, his story is the polar opposite of Liz’s, and he was the one I wanted to her from. For me, he was one of the few characters in Between that I would like to be friends with. I really wish we’d gotten to go into more of his memories like we did with Liz.

Between is a highly intriguing novel that packs an emotional punch and I really enjoyed it.

Now I'd like to welcome Jessica to So Many Books, So Little Time and thank her for answering my questions about Between:

1.    Is there a specific time or place you do your best writing in?
When my husband and I were house-hunting a few years ago, I made it clear that I needed a space of my own to write, and explained that I wouldn’t agree to buy anything that didn’t have an office of some kind.   So for awhile – about two years – I considered myself really fortunate to have an office all to myself on our first floor!  But then I agreed to foster kittens for the humane society.  I actually agreed to foster 12 kittens at the same time.  And the only available room in which to keep them was… my office.  So now, even though the kittens are gone, my office has a terrible smell that no amount of fumigation or carpet cleaning can get rid of.  It’s unbearable; anyone with normal olfactory functioning can’t be in that room for more than 30-40 seconds at a time.  So I’m back to writing in the dining room, with my papers and notes spread out all over the place, and no privacy whatsoever.  I’m a pretty flexible person, so it’s okay.  Having the kittens around for a few months was worth it. 

As far as time, I’m a night owl; I take an afternoon nap and then I’m up until all hours writing, when the rest of the neighborhood is asleep.  I love that eerie silence that permeates everything… it’s great for writing mysteries and suspense! 

2.    If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island what would they be? Why?
1)      Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  I am constantly reading this book; I finish it, I start again, with no plans to stop in the near future.   I believe that Wallace is the greatest writer of the past hundred years, and the least I can do to thank him is to continue to read his work for the rest of my life.  I have SIX notebooks devoted to my thoughts, etc., on this book.  Every time I read it, I find something new to love about it. 

2)      Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  Just an amazing story, all-around.  Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I repeat the epitaph on Jean Valjean’s (the main character’s) gravestone: 

He is asleep.  Though his mettle was sorely tried,
He lived, and when he lost his angel, died. 
It happened calmly, on its own,
The way night comes when day is done.

3.      The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  My favorite love story of all time.  I just bought a Great Gatsby t-shirt a few weeks ago from this little clothing boutique in Austin, TX.  I was so excited when I found it that I wanted to buy several of them in different sizes, so that I’d have a different one for different occasions… but my husband said that was not feasible, so I only got to buy one.  That same husband (I only have one) eventually hid the t-shirt from me because I was wearing it way too much… he claims it was getting sort of weird. 

Is there a novel you wish you’d written? Why?
You know… not really.  There are so many different qualities of different writers that I admire, but I appreciate that we can’t all have the same abilities.  I just want to be the best writer that I can, and appreciate the amazing stuff that other writers have done, and be content with everything. 

5.    Liz had some very difficult experiences. Did you find it difficult to write these scenes?
Sometimes.  Between was the most difficult book I’ve written, as well as the most enjoyable and rewarding.  It was a fabulous dichotomy in that way.  There was definitely some stuff from my real life, as well as my upbringing, that made it into the book.  A close friend of mine read it, and afterward she and I were talking about the scene where Liz’s mom (who is anorexic) quizzes her daughter on the nutritional content of peanut butter.  My friend – who has known me all my life – said to me, “that part was hard to read, because I know you didn’t have to look at a jar of peanut butter to get those stats.  You knew them by heart.”  And I said, “Yes, that was tough for me to write, too…” I think the hardest things to write are the parts of books or stories that force us to take a close look at ourselves.  There was plenty of that in Between. 

6.    Between broaches some very sensitive topics. Did you feel any sort of trepidation at writing about them?

No.  It always surprises me when people describe my writing as edgy.  It’s life; these are the things people deal with on a day-to-day basis.  I think it’s far more difficult to ignore them and pretend they aren’t important than it is to acknowledge them.  Now, confronting them – for example, an issue like anorexia or eating disorders in general – and how it might impact someone on a personal level as a writer – yes, that can be difficult.  But it’s so necessary.  Nothing good comes from ignoring things that have power over us. 

7.    Do you identify more with Liz or Alex?
I identified with both of them.  I suppose I was sort of in with the cool crowd when I was in high school, but believe me, I was FAR from being the “queen bee.”  I constantly felt like, at any second, my friends would discover that I was a total dork who didn’t deserve their attention at all.  I used to wonder if everyone felt like that, deep down… I still don’t know the answer. 

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell me anything about it?
Yes! I’m in the final stages of my fourth novel, which doesn’t have a title right now.  All I can tell you is that it’s about a set of identical twins with a unique bond.  When one of them disappears, the remaining twin finds her life sort of falling apart, and she has to struggle to figure out what’s going on if she has any hope of saving her sister….

Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview!!!  

A big thank you to Egmont for providing me with a review copy and organising an interview with Jessica.



  1. Is there supposed to be some questions in this post hun?
    I haven't read this yet but I am looking forward to reading it soon.

  2. Fascinating interview and brilliant review. I love your questions - and Jessica Warman's in-depth answers!


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