What made you want to write this story and where did the idea come from?
I got the idea for from a dream. (I know!) In the dream, two people were sitting on a train--one of those old-fashioned, very fancy trains, but the train itself had become very worn down. And it was very hot. I still remember the girl in the dream--that would be Grace--thinking about how hot it was. And how scared she was that she was going to get caught. I woke up, thought, "Huh?" but wrote it all down and then fell back asleep, hoping for a nice dream about, oh, me and three weeks with nothing to do but read!
Instead I was back on the train. And this time the girl--and now I knew her name was Grace--wasn't alone. There was a guy about her age sitting next to her, and they knew each other but didn't know each other and they were both on the run from something. And then the guy looked at her and what Grace saw--I can't tell you because it's a huge spoiler for the book, sorry!---terrified her. And then he told her he knew what she was, said a word she didn't think she'd ever hear again. And then they just looked at each other.
I woke up again then, thought, "Nooooo! More!!" and got up and wrote everything down. And then it actually just sat for a while, stewing around in my brain while I tried to figure out why Grace was so scared of him and why the guy said what he did.
And then, one day, as I was folding socks (!), it all came together. I started taking notes furiously, and began writing the story that day.
Did you always know the story would be told by Grace? Was it hard to get inside her head?
I always knew the story would be told by Grace. I knew from the moment I had the dream--and no, it wasn't hard to get inside her head because I was telling her story. The biggest thing, for me--and the best part of writing--is that I get to tell all these stories that belong to other (albeit fictional!) people.
There are lines from the poem, Forced March by Miklos Radnoti, quoted at the beginning of Grace, what made you want that as an epigraph?
It is one of my favorite poems, and when I first started writing Grace, the lines that are quoted in the book just kept refraining over and over in my head. It's the first time I've ever quoted from another work in something I've done, but I just felt like those lines helped me define the entire story, so I wanted them in there.
I felt the setting of the train worked wonderfully well. Did you try different settings/modes of transport or was the train always an essential part of the story?
The train was always part of the story--thanks to that dream!
How do you switch between the tone of something like The Unwritten Rule to something like Grace?
I actually enjoy mixing it up--I like writing all kinds of things, and I'm lucky enough to be able to write lighter books like The Unwritten Rule and darker books like Grace. More than one person has noted, however, that loss runs throughout all my books and that, I think, is a very good--and true!--point.
I am very curious about the names you used in the novel Keran Berj, Jerusha and then Grace, Lilly, Liam, Kerr. Was there any meaning behind them?
Yes, but I'm not really comfortable talking about it. I hope readers will think about why I named the characters the way I did and draw their own conclusions.
Of all your books and/or characters do you have a soft spot for any of them.
Nope! I can't even read my own work--do this day, I have yet to read any of my books.
Any writing advice?
Read. Read as much as you can, and read everything you can
What book are you recommending to everyone right now?
You can check out what I've been reading over at Goodreads
Thanks so much to Elizabeth for taking the time to answer my questions.
Grace is published by Dutton on September 16th 2010. Pre-order it. It's a must read.
You can find my review here and you can find out more about Elizabeth at her blog