Friday, January 29, 2010


The author:

Today I'm pleased to welcome another debut author, Anna Jarzab. Anna knows the 'burbs. She grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago and then traded that in for a suburb in San Francisco’s East Bay area, where ALL UNQUIET THINGS is set. Despite spreading herself paper thin doing things like editing the University's literary journal and serving on the Peer Judicial Board, she graduated from Santa Clara University and went on to earn her Master’s degree from the University of Chicago. She lives and writes in New York City.

The book:

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

Publisher's Weekly calls ALL UNQUIET THINGS "a tense and immersive thriller" and School Library Journal says it's a "rich, psychological mystery." Booklist adds that "the story hooks readers immediately."

The Interview:

What inspired you to write All Unquiet Things?
There wasn't anything in particular that inspired me to write it, it was just a book that grew out of a seed over a long period of time--and that seed was Neily. It was almost like he was born, and then I had to figure out what sort of trouble he could get himself in to. All Unquiet Things is the result of that very prolonged process.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
No, not at all, although I think most of my main characters have something in themselves that's a part of my personality, but none of them is an actual true-to-life portrait of me or anyone else.

What excites you?

What turns you off?

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang outwith you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
Probably Nancy Mitford. I'd love to hear her gossip bitchily about all the rich and famous people she knew. Also, I would insist that the weekend retreat was her house in France.

Have you always been interested in mysteries?
I don't think of myself as a mystery reader, because I honestly don't read that many, but I've always been a fan of Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. I went through a huge Mary Higgins Clark phase in junior high, same with Stephen King, so those five are probably my heaviest mystery influences. I always love a literary mystery, though; Tana French writes some amazing murder mysteries that are also beautifully executed and totally compelling.

Who are some of your favorite mystery writers?
LOL, see above.

Do you have any special writing rituals or totems to connect with your muse?
I don't really believe in a "muse" per se, I just believe in working really hard and then taking a break when the struggle becomes insurmountable. I find that my greatest moments of inspiration come as a surprise when I'm feeling exhausted and at my wits' end with a book. I do like to read over what I've written on the screen while holding a book (whatever book I'm reading, usually) and miming turning the pages, which is sort of weird and ritualistic. I also write in incredibly short burst. Five minutes writing, interspersed with five minutes reading or surfing the Internet or watching a DVD. I'm constantly bouncing back and forth, which I find actually makes me more productive.

What songs would make the playlist for All Unquiet Things?
I actually put together a whole playlist for AUT, which you can find on my website. But definitely some of the most influential songs for me are "What a Good Boy" by the Barenaked Ladies, "Perfect Crime #2" by the Decemberists, "At Your Funeral" by Save Ferris, and "Who Will Love Me Now?" by (I think) PJ Harvey. There's a ton of songs on the soundtrack, though.

What's your favorite quote?
"You've no idea how long life goes on and how many, many changes it brings. Young people seem to imagine that it's over in a flash, that they do this thing, or that thing, and then die, but I can assure you they are quite wrong." It's from Nancy Mitford's brilliant comic novel, Love in a Cold Climate. I like it because I'm the type of person who always believes that, for better or for worse, things will remain exactly as they are forever and nothing will change. I always have to remind myself that life is long and things are constantly changing. Nothing lasts forever, but the good news is that nothing lasts forever.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on another mystery set in California about a recent high school graduate who mysteriously disappears. Did he run away? Did he take his own life? Was he hurt or killed? You'll have to read to find out.

What is an interesting writing quirk of yours?
I use a lot of dashes, especially in dialogue but everywhere, really. I also write "once and a while" instead of "once in a while" ALL THE TIME.

If All Unquiet Things were made into a movie, who would you like to see in the role of Audrey? Neily? Carly?
I think it'd have to be all unknowns, but if we're just going with names people would recognize, I like Johnny Simmons or Kyle Gallner for Neily (you can check them both out in Jennifer's Body), Amanda Seyfried for Audrey, and Amber Tamblyn for Carly. They're all sort of too old to be playing high schoolers anymore, but in Hollywood you're in high school until you're 30, so whatever.

The freebie:
Anna is offering a signed copy of ALL UNQUIET THINGS to this week's lucky winner.
To be entered to win, leave a comment below, describing how much you want to read this book!
This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, February 3.