Monday, May 23, 2011

Interview: Christine Norris, Author of The Mirror of Yu-Huang

Today's guest is Christine Norris, author of the YA fantasy novel, The Mirror of Yu-Huang. Christine Norris is the author of several works for children and adults, including the Library of Athena series and the Zandria duology. When she’s not out saving the world one story at a time, she is disguised as a mild mannered substitute teacher, mother, and wife. She cares for her family of one husband-creature, a son-animal, and two felines who function as Guardian of the Bathtub and Official Lap Warmer, respectively. She has also done several English adaptations of novels translated from other languages. She reached a new level of insanity by attending Southen Connecticut State University Graduate School’s Information and Library Science program, so that someday she, too, can be a real Librarian. She currently resides somewhere in southern New Jersey.

Thanks for joining us today, Christine. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Thanks for having me. I was born on a cold winter’s night…wait, no, that’s not right. Actually I was born in the middle of summer, but that’s not what you mean, is it? I am a substitute teacher looking for a full-time job, and a mom to pretty terrific 8 year old boy, and a graduate student in Library Science. Which has all come about during the almost ten years that I’ve been writing. Five books in ten years isn’t too bad, is it?

Where did you grow up?

Wait, I grew up? When did that happen? Just kidding (sort of…). Actually I grew up about two doors down from where I live now. Yep, I live on the same street in New Jersey where I lived most of my childhood. Some people think it’s weird, I actually like it. My neighborhood is very nice and my son’s school is right across the street.

When did you begin writing?

I believe it was a Thursday, just after lunch. Ha! I don’t know exactly what day, just being silly. I had a few false starts over the years, ambition getting ahead of my talent or time. I started writing my first book, Talisman of Zandria, in September of 2001. It was such a weird time, and I remember it very clearly. I handwrote then, into notebooks, and then would transcribe into the computer. Now I do pretty much everything on computer.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

Mostly whenever. I have summers off, so I get quite a bit done then. Otherwise I just have to take the time whenever I can grab it. Between work, grad school, and my family, I have to be flexible.

What is this book about?

Which book are we talking about again?…oh, yes. THE MIRROR OF YU-HUANG is a thrilling adventure about Megan Montgomery and her friends. The headmistress of her school has wheedled her father into hosting a huge formal ball at their big English manor on New Year’s Eve. Which Megan is not happy about, because there’s a big secret at the Parthenon, (which is the name of the manor)—The Library of Athena. That’s a huge secret chamber under the house that holds some really rare and important books, including a collection of enchanted books that protect magical artifacts. So you can see why doesn’t really want a bunch of people traipsing all over. Then she has to play hostess to a Chinese ambassador and his family, and it seems that one of them knows about her secret. She suspects everyone, and eventually she winds up inside one of the enchanted books, chasing someone who wants to steal the Mirrror of Yu-Huang. It’s all very exciting and edge-of-your seat and twisty-turny.

What inspired you to write it?

This is the third book in the series, but I knew I wanted to do something different. So many books use Greek and Egyptian mythology, which were included in the first two books and I think a good introduction to the series. There aren’t a ton of books that include Chinese mythology, and there’s probably a good reason. It wasn’t the easiest to work with, making Mirror probably the most difficult book I’ve written so far. But I think the end result was worth the work—I am really happy with how it came out.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I don’t have one yet, but I am looking. I’ve sent out a completed manuscript to a few people, and I’ve gotten really great feedback on it, really close to that illusive yes, I think. Then again I may be delusional, you never know! Did some revisions and it’s back out again.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Just about everywhere! Amazon and, and it’s available for both Kindle and Nook, and in multiformat ebook at Of course it’s available at the publishers website:,  and any bookstore should be able to get it or you.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I have EVERYTHING! My website is at, my blog is You can get to my Facebook page through my website, and I am on Twitter at @cnorrisauthor.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Read! Read everything you can get your hands on, and then figure out what makes it work and what doesn’t. I find that if I’m not feeling the love from my writing, reading is a good way to ‘refill the well’ so to speak.

What is up next for you?

I could tell you, but then men in black suits would be here to destroy your notes. Oh, no, that’s something else, sorry. I have several things going on right now. The next Library of Athena book, of course. And I’m working on a YA historical fantasy-with-bits-of-steampunk novel, a retelling of a classic fairy tale. I am getting it all shined up to submit to agents. I don’t have an agent yet, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about the manuscript, so I must be on the right track. I just have to keep at it, because the next one might be a yes.

And somewhere in between, I’m getting a Master’s in Library Science so I can be a School Media Specialist. I just got a new job, hopefully I will start soon, as a librarian in a Pre-K and Kindergarten school. I’m pretty excited for that.

Thanks for spending time with us, Christine. We wish you great success.


Kelly McClymer said...

What an interesting sounding book! I love reading YA, though I'm not Y anymore :-)

Karen Cioffi said...

I have a mg fantasy coming out July 1st. Your book sounds great.

We're neighbors, I'm in NYC. :)

Christine Norris said...

Kelly, I hardly read any books for grownups anymore :)

Karen, great! I'm about 100 miles south of you. But I'll be up in NYC for my birthday in the summer - I love the city!

Turning the Clock Back said...

Thanks for the interview, the books mentioned sound like my kids would really enjoy them. They love all things having to do with mythology!

Christine Norris said...

Thanks, Turning :) I love mythology too - but that might be obvious.

V.R. Leavitt said...

The book sounds wonderful! Great interview too. Love your sense of humor Christine.