Interview with Jessica Shirvington about her new novel, Between the Lives:
1. In Between the Lives Sabine switches between two different lives and is suffering trying to maintain the two completely different situations.
How did you handle maintaining the character of Sabine while everything else around her changes?
I gave a lot of thought to how a person would adapt and learn to survive in Sabine’s unique situation. In the end, I decided that Sabine’s solution would be to fully embrace each of her lives for what they were supposed to be. When she is in Wellesley, where she had more access to money, fashion, social events, she plays that role. But of course, when she is in Roxbury she knows she can’t be that person and survive, so she fully embraces what it means to be Sabine in Roxbury – how to dress, the right amount of sass and attitude to not be hassled, etc And in each world she adapts to her family and siblings and tries as much as possible to forget about her other world while she is not there.
2. In one life Sabine is very successful, in another she is considered a delinquent. How much does her surroundings, and how she’s treated by other people, change her responses to school, family, and friends?
Very much. I think, as I mentioned above, she chooses to fully embrace her situation in each life so she is affected by them just as any normal person would be, but at the same time, she has to keep a distance from everyone and everything because she is always on guard. Sabine spends a lot of time protecting her image in each life because she fears that if she gives away too much and slips up everything else will come crashing down around her. Not to mention she struggles with the fact that by living every day twice she is effectively twice as old, yet still treated as a teenager.
3. Ethan: On a scale of one-to-swoonalicious, what should we be expecting?
I don’t really think of Ethan as your typical hot guy. He’s complex and thoughtful. But he also has this way about him that draws Sabine in like she never believed possible. He’s that guy that gets under your skin and before she even realises it, she’s lost to him. I have a big soft spot for Ethan! 😉
4. What aspect of this novel was hardest to write?
Keeping the world building and rules of Sabine’s universe clear and concise was very important to the overall feel of the story. I spent a lot of time going back and forth working out exactly the way I wanted it to be. There are also a couple of fairly confronting scenes and these took thought and time to fully commit to.
5. How does this book compare to your previous work?
It is very different. Although this book has a sci-fi element because of the dual realities, it is more of a contemporary/psychological story. The Violet Eden Chapters are more of a paranormal series with high action and superpowers etc. Between the Lives is much more insular and focused on Sabine’s particular situation and the events that occur because of her desperate need to be normal.
6. What’s your favourite part about writing in the Young Adult genre?
I love that the stories revolve around character’s who are making the decisions that are effectively going to shape the adults they become and the futures they will have. I also love that they provide the ability to include a characters first and often most heartfelt love.
7. What do you most hope audiences will take away from Between the Lives?
I always just hope people enjoy the story! For me, I wanted to write this story so much because it was a very unique opportunity to explore the concept of suicide and all it involves, but from a character who contemplates it solely due to an intense desire to live. But also, the heart of this story is all the little things that happen in both of her lives and the things she neglects to notice because she is so completely focused on herself and what that means for her in the end.
Don’t Forget to Check Out Between the Lives, Out Now!
Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole.
Until now, that is…
For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.
With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted… But just what – and who – is she really risking?
Follow the Complete Between the Lives Blog Tour!
Monday, May 6th — Treasured Tales for Young Adults
Wednesday, May 8th — Novels on the Run
Friday, May 10th — Forget Me Not
Monday, May 13th — Speculating on Spec Fic
Wednesday, May 15th — YA Midnight Reads
Friday, May 17th — Book Probe Reviews
Monday, May 20th — Vegan YA Nerds
Wednesday, May 22nd — The Book Twins
Friday, May 24th — Paperback Princess
HarperCollins Australis is kindly offering two copies of Between the Lives to two lucky Australian winners!
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