Elizabeth Valchar --- pretty, popular and rich --- wakes up the morning after her 18th birthday on the yacht where she’d been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead. She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death.We asked her to tell us a little bit more about herself and Between.
She’s also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.
In her regular life, Liz was a runner. It wasn’t abnormal for her to run 8-10 miles per day. But as memories from closer to her death begin to surface, Liz finds that she’d been running much more than normal, and that she’d all but stopped eating. Liz’s mother, who died when Liz was nine, had battled with anorexia as well, and those around her worried that Liz was following in her mother’s footsteps. But something more sinister was consuming Liz from the inside out...
Q: Hi Jessica! Welcome to our blog. Please tell us a little about yourself in 140 characters.
A: I write. I run. I eat ice cream every day. I'm terrified of natural bodies of water. I have 9 tattoos, 7 of which I regret.
Q: What is something that makes you laugh out loud?
A: A few days ago, I watched a YouTube video of surveillance footage from a restaurant lobby. There was one of those toy vending machines in the lobby – the kind with the big metal claw that reaches down to grab the toys. In the video, a little girl walks up and crawls inside the vending machine. It takes her parents, who weren’t really paying attention to her, a good three minutes to realize where she went. Once she’s all the way up inside the machine, that little girl proceeds to roll around in those toys in much the same way I might roll around in a pile of hundred dollar bills. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen; I was howling. I think I’ve watched it about five times since that first viewing, and it’s still hilarious to me. (Also, the little girl was fine.)
Q: Which character in BETWEEN was the hardest to write? Why?
A: All of the characters came to me pretty naturally – that was one of the most wonderful things about writing this book. I guess the most difficult was Liz’s dad, Marshall. I based him on my own dad in lots of ways – he’s loving but also kind of emotionally clumsy. It was tough to put him in so many situations in the book where he’s hurting – first he loses his wife, then his daughter – because it made me think of my own father and our relationship. There’s one scene (I can’t say which one, because it will give too much away) that actually prompted me to call up my dad and tell him how much I love him.
Q: If you can give Liz or Alex a piece of advice, what would it be?
A: I would love to tell them both just to be kind. It’s simple, obvious advice, but so many people live their lives afraid (or unwilling) to just let their guard down and treat others with simple, basic kindness. There’s so much anger and pain and suffering in life - and in the book - and people (myself included) tend to be so self-absorbed that we lose sight of how powerful a small act of humanity can be. When I teach writing workshops, I always start my first class by talking about the two things that every human being wants: to be loved, and to be heard. Every individual shares these needs, even infants. It’s amazing what happens when a person is able to keep that at the forefront of their interactions with others. The world becomes a much more manageable place.
Q: Please share with us your favorite scene in BETWEEN.
A: This is easy. The homecoming dance that Liz and Alex attend together. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say that it’s one of the last scenes leading up to a Big Moment in the book, but the main character, Liz, has no idea what’s about to happen. She’s just enjoying herself, finding peace and calm for one of the first times in the story. I love it.
Thanks for answering our questions, Jessica! Fellow young adult readers, to learn more about Jessica's books, check out her website and her author page on the Bloomsbury Kids website.
Giveaway Alert: If you like Bloomsbury Teens' Facebook page by the end of August, you could win a copy of Between and Where the Truth Lies (also by Jessica Warman). Check it out HERE.