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Interview: Christine Norris, Author of The Mirror of Yu-Huang

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The author of several works for children and adults, Christine Norris is the writer and creator of the Library of Athena series and the Zandria duology.  When she is not engrossed within worlds of her own creation, Ms. Norris is a substitute teacher.  In addition, she is the wife to one husband-creature, a son-animal, and two felines who function as Guardian of the Bathtub and Official Lap Warmer.

Christine Norris has completed several English adaptations of novels translated from other languages.  Always looking to reach new levels in life, as well as in insanity, Ms. Norris began attending Southen Connecticut State University Graduate School’s Information and Library Science program, so that someday she, too, can become a real live Librarian.

Ms. Norris currently resides somewhere in southern New Jersey.

Readers can learn more about Christine Norris and her work by visiting her website, facebook and twitter.

Please tell us a bit about your book, The Mirror of Yu-Huang, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

The Mirror of Yu-Huang, is the third installment in the Library of Athena series, which centers around Megan Montgomery, an American teenager living in England. In this story, the headmistress of her school has wheedled her father into hosting a huge formal ball at their big English manor on New Year’s Eve. Which Megan is not happy about, because there’s a big secret at the Parthenon, (which is the name of the estate) —The Library of Athena. The Library is a huge secret chamber under the house that holds some really rare and important books, including a collection of enchanted books that protect magical artifacts. So you can see why she doesn’t really want a bunch of people traipsing all over the place.

On top of that, she has to play hostess to a Chinese ambassador and his family, and it seems that one of them knows about her secret. She suspects everyone, and eventually she winds up inside one of the enchanted books, chasing someone who wants to steal the Mirrror of Yu-Huang. It’s all very exciting and edge-of-your seat and twisty-turny.

What should readers take away from it? Don’t fall into enchanted books, I guess. Look both ways before crossing the street? No? Really, I can’t tell readers what to get out of any of my books. I just want them to enjoy them; if they get something else out of it, good for them! The books are centered around friendship and adventure, and I think a lot of other themes come out of that organically.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

I know it’s probably horribly disloyal of me to say this, but my favorite character in this story, and really in the series, is Rachel. She’s Megan’s best friend. She’s got a wicked sense of humor and always has a terrific and snappy comeback. I love all four girls at the heart of the series, but Rachel is my favorite (I feel like a mom who’s just admitted she loves one of her children more than the others!)

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

I have a couple one-liners that always make me laugh: “She wondered if the story entailed a hike to the top of the valley. If it did, she would need better shoes.” That’s my girls, always thinking about the important stuff. I also love, “I’m afraid this thing is going to slip off and I’m going to have a wardrobe malfunction.” — that’s when Rachel’s talking about her ball gown.

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

This is one of those questions that I’ve thought about and cannot really answer. I think I would want new-found talent, young actresses that are up and coming, like when Harry Potter was being cast for the first movie. But recently I watched the House of Anubis series on TV, and the girl who played Amber, Ana Mulvoy Ten, would be great as Harriet. I think the characters have a lot in common and she would do a great job. I really can’t think of anyone in particular for any of the others, and that’s probably why I’m not a casting director, lol.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

I am a revision junkie. I love love love to rewrite, especially if I have notes from an editor or a beta reader. I think it’s because I learn visually. So once the story is out on the page, I have all the pieces in front of me and can see what’s missing or where something might

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

First drafts. Yuck. I know they’re necessary, obviously, but some days I just get exhausted and frustrated, knowing that it’s not quite right, but not knowing why. I think the since I’ve been at this for ten years, I should be able to put down better words the first time around. I tend to forget that all first drafts really stink (ALL!), that the first draft is just to get all the events in the proper order, and the magic happens in revision. And then I rewrite and redeem myself and feel all tingly again.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

Oh, gosh, there are so many. Right now, I’m really into Carrie Jones’ Need series, and James Owen’s Imaginarium Geographica books. I buy those in hardcover. But I have a Kindle now, so I’m able to download all my favorite authors. I have started reading Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles; I loved the Percy Jackson series. It was so weird, because those came out just after I think I finished the first in the Library of Athena series. They ended up being similar, and my series seems to attract a lot of those Percy Jackson fans.

What are you reading right now?

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I’ve really become interested in the Steampunk movement, and I’ve been working on a book set in the late 18th century, involving steam-powered machines and magic.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

I can only choose five, really? Okay, well, Shakespeare, because I think everyone says him, and it would be awesome to have a talk with him, though I wrote a paper in a college English course that calls him a misogynist. JK Rowling, because I’m such a huge Harry Potter fan. Libba Bray, because she’s completely insane and I just want to hang out with her. Mary Shelley, acknowledged as the first woman speculative fiction writer. JRR Tolkien, because I really want to know how his mind worked.

What would I serve? I think we’d hang out and have pizza and adult beverages. It’d be a wild time, because Shakespeare would be the one with the lampshade on his head by the end of the night. Oh, c’mon, you know he would.

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

The Hunger Games trilogy, without question. They are so smart and so daring, with such a terrific premise. I mean, I can’t stand reality TV (well, most of it — I kind of like Cake Boss and American Pickers), so the idea that the human race would tune in to watch people actually fight to the death is just so insightful. They gave me nightmares and at the same time made me feel like I would never write anything so important.

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

Laugh more often. Laugh at yourself, learn to enjoy life and see the positive. Make today better than yesterday, because it all goes by much too fast. And if there’s something you want to do, don’t wait, just go and do it!

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About April Pohren

  • What a great review, Christine. I enjoyed learning more about you and your writing. Congratulations on your latest book.