Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.
But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.
As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.
What makes your book different than other books out there?
I haven’t come across too many books set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where Surfacing takes place. Swans Landing is a fictional island modeled after Ocracoke, which I adore. It’s a book about Southern US small town life mixed into a paranormal story based on Scottish folklore. If that makes any sense!
What kind of books do you read? Are they similar to the books you write?
I read a lot of YA. Contemporary is my favorite, but I also love all the other genres within the YA world. I also adore middle-grade books and have been reading more of them lately.
Dream cast your book for us.
I did this recently on Pinterest and it was fun to come up with actors for the parts! I chose Meagan Tandy as Mara and Matthew Atkinson as Josh, both of whom currently appear in ABC Family’s Jane by Design. I’d pick Chord Overstreet from Glee as Dylan, and Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars as Sailor.
Do you have a ‘day job’? What is it?
Yes, I work as a graphic designer for a media company. My education is in graphic design, with a focus on web design.
What has your biggest struggle been so far?
Finding enough time in the day to write all the stories in my head! It’s tough balancing a day job, writing, marketing, family and home life. I tell people who are thinking about becoming a writer that you have to really love it and be self-motivated to squeeze in time to do everything.
How do you feel about romances being so common in YA (and to a lesser degree MG) books?
I really enjoy a good romance, so I’m fine with it! I like reading about how people interact and what propels them toward each other.
What trend do you love in MG/YA books? What trend do you hate?
I love retellings. I’ve seen a lot of those lately and even one of my novels is a retelling. I really love seeing a fresh take on an old story.
I don’t really have any trends that I hate. I’m pretty open to reading a wide variety of ideas.
In Surfacing, the finfolk have different colors in their scales based on their family line. If you were finfolk, what color would your scales be?
I think mine would be a deep violet with a few silver scales mixed in.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on finishing up the sequel to Surfacing, which will be out later this year. I’m also planning some companion short stories/novelettes that fill in some backstory between the books.
Thanks for talking with us, Shana!
Shana Norris is the author of the young adult novels Surfacing, The Boyfriend Thief, Troy High, and Something to Blog About, a Book Sense Summer 2008 Children’s Pick. She lives in eastern North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, five cats, and a bunch of grumpy chickens.