Anna Jarzab: I live in New York City, I work in publishing, and I read a lot. That's the most boring answer on planet earth, but it's the truth!
TBP: What is it you love most about being a writer?
AJ: I think it's fun to imagine what people's lives might be like. The characters are the heart of any book, not just mine but every good book ever written, so to create real, living, breathing humans is the most challenging thing to me. And it's not like you sit down and decide who this person is going to be--you get to know them by spending time with them, the same way you get to know real people that you meet. When you invent a character who you love, it's very rewarding.
TBP: What inspired the idea for All Unquiet Things?
AJ: I don't know if there was any one thing that inspired the book. The first version of the book I wrote had a tiny little mystery, but nothing like what the plot is now, so when I decided to go back to All Unquiet Things after abandoning it in its Version 1 state, I knew I had to rewrite it, so I thought bringing the mystery to the forefront would give the book a great spine, around which I could wrap all the nerves and muscle and flesh of the characters and their relationships and their emotional journeys. In Version 1, Carly died at the end; when I started brainstorming for Version 2, I decided to make her die in the beginning and then bring her in via flashbacks. But then, if Carly's dead in the beginning, who killed her, and why? And that's how the mystery plot was formed.
TBP: How long did it take you to write All Unquiet Things?
AJ: If you count all of the revisions I did with my editor, copyediting and proofreading, it took me...seven years to write. Seven! Oh my God that's a lot. Well, I wrote it once in college and it was terrible so I completely rewrote it when I was in graduate school, with a different plot and a bunch of new characters and everything, so it makes sense that it took so long, but still.
TBP: In your opinion, how is All Unquiet Things different from your average YA novel.
AJ: I wrote it? Every novel is like a fingerprint, completely unique to the person who wrote it, even if it seems just like everything else. I haven't read everything else out there, so I don't know if it's really fundamentally different than everything else, but I think the fact that I wrote it, in the place that I was, that it's filled with the things I thought and felt and people I created, makes it different. Also, I'm not sure how many YA novels are crime novels with such a grisly murder at the center--AUT probably isn't the only one, but I can't imagine it's that common.
TBP: What are some of your favorite YA books?
AJ: I mostly love the angsty stuff, the darker the better. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson is a really wonderful, haunting novel. Justine Larbalestier's Liar is a really great thriller--I was so impressed by how well she pulled off such a tough premise. I love the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (who doesn't?), and I just read Hold Still by Nina LaCour (another YA set in Northern California, what what!), which is just a very quiet, beautiful novel. Oh, and Beautiful Creatures, which I just read and COULD NOT PUT DOWN. There are lots more! I read a ton of YA, so I'm always discovering new things.
TBP: Can you tell us if you are working on anything else at the moment?
AJ: I am. I'm working on this quasi-post-apocalyptic pseudo-mystery (as I've taken to calling it), and a book about a pair of estranged sisters who are far apart in age. I'm further along with the latter than the former.
TBP: Tell us a little more about the Russian nesting dolls that can be seen on your website and twitter page? (I actually own one and have read the part about them on your site but this is for those who haven't)
AJ: A few years ago, my parents went on a Baltic cruise for their honeymoon and they brought back a matryoshka doll (Russian nested doll) for my sister. I became really enamored of it and she let me have it. It sat on my desk the entire time I was writing All Unquiet Things and worked its way into the story. I realized that a matryoshka doll is a great metaphor for people, and for mysteries, and I decided to make them the theme of my website, because I wanted to hide extra content around the site and matryoshka dolls are all about hiding--and discovery. I've since acquired three more matryoshka dolls, and I'm sure I'll end up with more.
TBP: Anything else you'd like to add before you leave?
AJ: Just thanks for having me!
I would like to thank Anna for taking the time to do this interview. It is greatly appreciated. :) I loved reading your answers.
Readers, I hoped you all enjoyed getting to know Anna as much as I did.
You can visit Anna's website HERE.