Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Drive By Booking Hosts Christine Norris on Her Virtual Book Tour!

Who is Christine Norris? According to her author bio:

Christine is the author of several works for children and adults. She spends her time divided between her writing, substitute teaching, and caring for her family of one husband-creature, a son-animal, a large dog whose greatest achievement is sleeping in one position for an entire day, and a small feline who is very adept in his position as Guardian of the Bathtub. She also works at English Adaptations of novels translated from other languages.

To learn more about Christine Norris, please visit You can send an email to Christine at or through her MySpace page, at

I also had the opportunity to conduct a virtual interview with Christine, where I relentlessly peppered her with probing questions, utilizing a technique I stole learned from Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame, known for making world leaders cry. Here's the straight scoop:

Q1: First, and most importantly, Drive By Booking readers want to know: Eggplant or Orlando?

A: Hmm. On one hand, you've got a purple squash, and purple is a nice color. On the other hand, you've got Orlando, named after a character from Shakespeare and a city in Florida. I hate eggplant, even fried, so it's gotta be Orlando.

Q2: Speaking of that, we first met on Absolute Write and many of my readers are also regulars there. What's a nice YA author like you doing in a place like that?

A: Hopefully being a good influence and rubbing off on them. They're a great bunch,and it's a good retreat the road-weary writer who feels isolated because they've chosen to be a writer and no one around them understands that when they say 'I'm writing', it means 'don't disturb me, because my work is just as important as yours.' LOL. Isn't that the way, people who aren't writers just don't understand.

Q3: Is there anything normal people need to be careful about when first encountering fantasy writers?

A: Oh my yes. First of all, fantasy writers live on a different plane than most people, so don't upset their delicate balance with too much 'reality'. That'll just make them mad. Don't argue with them about the existence of Dragons. Dragons are real, and it's not my fault you've never seen one. Make a fantasy writer angry and you could find yourself being eaten by said Dragon in the author's next book. Dragons generally prefer their people crispy and with ranch dressing.

Or the fantasy writer could just turn you into a toad, and then where would you be?

Q4: What drew you to writing Young Adult fantasy, in the first place - are young people even reading anymore with all that YouTube, Wii and Facebook stuff going on?

A:Because I love YA fantasy. Adults are too involved with relationships and feelings, whereas kids want good characters and action. They want heroes who save the day and happy endings, and plot twists that surprise. It's just more fun to write for kids, and they appreciate good fantasy and magic more, I think.

Actually, yes kids are reading. Harry Potter, bless his little heart, has kindly breathed life back into the art of reading, although I don't think it ever really died. The shelves are stuffed with good books for kids. When I substitute teach, I see lots of kids reading. Some love it, some hate it, some would rather set their hair on fire, but they do read. In the lower grades it's required, so they don't have a choice. I also run across kids who read a lot of manga, it's hugely popular now in the U.S., which means they're at least going to the bookstore.

Q5: Do you think you'll keep writing for Young Adults and in the fantasy genre?

A: Oh yes, I have more stories brewing in my head all the time. I grew up on a steady diet of fairy tales and Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz. So it's pretty much what I know, and I love it. I don't want to write anything else, at least at the moment.

Q6: Uh, you don't think 50 is too old to be considered a Young Adult, do you? What about older readers - do you get any feedback from them about your books? (aside from reviewers)

A: Oh, no! You're never too old for YA books. This was a topic of discussion at a convention I went to last year - that so many adults are now reading YA fantasy or sci fi books, because the stories are usually better crafted and not bogged down I get lots of adult readers, and they all seem to like the books. My editor at one of my publishers loves my stuff as a reader. I read tons of YA books myself, there are some really great ones.

Q7: How did you come up with the idea for a 'virtual' book tour? Is it fun? Do you miss getting frequent flyer miles and stale pretzel snacks?

A: I can't take the credit for the virtual book tour. I had the idea to have one, then found out that they're getting more popular. There are companies out there that run them for authors, for a fee. I'm cheap, so I organized my own. And this is a very 'green' way to do a book tour - no gas wasted, no greenhouse emmissions! And no, I don't miss crowded airports, airline food or hotel rooms. I get to go all over the world without leaving home! Which is good, because I don't think my son would do too well with that. He's Mommy's boy.

Q8: What's next for you in your writing?

A: I have a book coming out next year from Samhain Pubishing. The book is titled THE CROWN OF ZEUS. It'll be out in e-book form in early 2008, and in print probably towards Christmas that year. It's the first of a series. I have the second book finished, and I'm waiting on a decision from Samhain about that, and I'm halfway through the third book. It's really turning out to be very thrilling and promises to get even moreso. And I'm working on a full-length book for the Wizard Academies series ( ). I wrote two short stories for the anthologies, but we've found that agents and bigger publishers don't really want anthologies. We're considering combining the first two shorts of mine into one book too. That would take some work, but it's possible.

Next, Christine gave me an advance copy of Return to Zandria to read - the following is a brief overview.

First of all, this is a sequel to Talisman of Zandria, published in 2005 - but you don't have to have read Talisman to understand and enjoy Zandria. Both books recount the adventures of Ivy Peterson, a young woman who starts off feeling quite ordinary at the beginning of Talisman and ends up being pretty extraordinary by the end. Return to Zandria is set a few years after that adventure with a 14 year old Ivy who feels about herself, as the first lines of the book put it, "Ivy Peterson was not ordinary. Nor was she extraordinary or unusual. Ivy Peterson was More-Than-Ordinary."

In Return to Zandria Ivy is asked to return to help solve the kidnapping of the Empress's daughter, which has plunged Zandria into an extended winter as the weather there is sensitive to the prolonged depression of the Empress as her daughter remains a captive. Ivy is re-united with companions from the first book, the young apprentice Connor and the Wizard Arden, amongst others - along with some new characters. She learns from Arden that the princess is undoubtedly on "Otherside," what the people of Zandria call our reality, taken there by Duke Drake de Faeolin, the empress’ cousin.

The kidnapping turns out to be a plot within a plot...well, to tell you more would spoil the story.

Return to Zandria is a fun, well paced, YA fantasy adventure. The dialog, action and fantastic elements fit together into a well paced story with a satisfying ending. I think not only has Ivy matured, but Christine's writing has as well. I look forward to her next book, and the ones after that.