Today I have fellow Eastern NC author Shana Norris on the blog!! Shana is celebrating the release of not her debut novel, but her YA sophomore! Shana’s debut novel, Something to Blog About, was released in 2008. I have it, and can attest that it’s a *great* read! That’s why I’m *so* looking forward to reading her newest: Troy High!
First, the basics. . . .
Shana Norris is the author of Something to Blog About, a Book Sense Summer 2008 pick. She lives in eastern North Carolina, with her husband, two dogs, and three lazy cats that rule the house.
About Troy High
Based loosely on The Iliad, Troy High follows the Trojans and Spartans as they declare war on the football field. After the beautiful Elena—who used to be the captain of the Spartan cheerleaders—transfers to Troy High and falls madly in love with Trojan football star Perry, the Spartans vow that the annual homecoming game will never be forgotten.
Doesn’t this sound great?? On to the interview!
Me: I know that Troy High is based on Homer’s The Illiad. For those of us who are completely inept when it comes to Greek literature (I think it’s all those crazy names!), explain some of the similarities we can expect to find between the two stories.
Shana: The most obvious is that the main conflict in the story revolves around the Helen of Troy love triangle. There are two groups fighting each other, the Trojans and the Spartans, but in Troy High the battlefield is a football field. The main players of the Trojan War—Agamemnon, Menelaus, Hector, Paris, Odysseus, and Achilles—are included in the story in modern day hormone-crazed teenage versions. And yes, there’s a Trojan horse!
Me: Awesome! Can I read Troy High instead of The Illiad and still pass my English quiz?
Shana: Ha! Probably not. Unless your teacher is willing to accept an answer involving high school football and homecoming dances. ;)
Me: (lol) It’s a good thing I’m past all that, then, because I’d much rather read your version. Where did you get the idea? Or, what made you want to do this re-telling of such a classic tale? (Hey—even though I don’t “get” it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it!)
Shana: I’ve always LOVED Greek mythology. I wanted to change my name to Persephone Athena at one point, LOL! I also really love modern day retellings of old stories and so I knew I wanted to write one of my own some day. The idea for Troy High came to me when I was reading a website about Greek mythology (yes, I’m geeky enough that I just read that stuff for fun!) and I thought about how the Helen of Troy story is a great love triangle. I thought about how to turn this story into something that I would write and the idea for the Trojans and Spartans being two rival high schools slipped in there as I brainstormed. My high school had a huge football rivalry with another local school, so I could pull all my memories of pep rallies and football games to work into this epic school battle.
Me: Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Shana: There are two characters that I particularly enjoyed writing. The first was Elena, the Helen of Troy character, just because she’s bubbly and happy, even with all of these bad things going on. She just has a bright outlook on life that things will work out as they’re meant to, so it was fun to write about a character that has that continued optimism throughout the book and since she’s so popular and a cheerleader, it was fun to step out of my bank geek comfort zone and imagine being her.
The other character was Hunter, the narrator Cassie’s oldest brother. He’s the modern day version of Prince Hector of Troy. Hunter is the leader—he’s the oldest is his family and he’s the star quarterback of his school. Everyone looks up to him and expects greatness from him, but inside he has a lot of doubts. The thing that really struck me as I read The Iliad was how much weight was put on Hector’s shoulders, with everyone depending on him to save them. I kept this in mind when I created Hunter. I enjoyed exploring his mind and his motivations for the things he does. He’s also really moody, so whenever I needed to work out some annoyances I could just write about Hunter, LOL!
Me: What was the writing process for this book like? How long did it take to write it? Where do you write?
The first draft of this book was actually my NaNoWriMo project for 2006! So I wrote the first draft in a month, but it was messy and ugly and the finished product looks almost nothing like the original. After I wrote it and edited it a bit a couple months later, I sent it to my editor to read over. She gave me a ton of feedback and we talked a lot about what needed to be changed. So much needed to change that I just went back and rewrote the entire book without looking at my original draft at all. That took a couple months of rewriting before it went back to my editor again.
I have a laptop specifically for writing (basically because it’s too slow to do much else!) and I write usually at night and on weekends at home while sitting on my couch or in bed. Sometimes I bring my laptop to my day job and write during my lunch hour, but it’s hard to concentrate because coworkers always want to talk to me and interrupt my train of thought. So I’ve basically given up writing during work lunch hours unless I’m on a tight deadline and absolutely have to.
Me: I love NaNoWriMo! Give us one of your favorite quotations/paragraphs (this can be from anywhere!) as a teaser here:
Shana: Most of my favorites require a lot of set up to fully get, but this one is pretty short. It’s part of the scene where Elena (Helen of Troy) and Perry (Paris) first meet. Perry’s sister, Cassie (Cassandra the Seer), is the narrator and is one of the few people who doesn’t fall for Perry’s smooth attitude:
“What grade are you in?” Perry asked Elena.
“I’m a sophomore,” she told him.
“Oh, a young’un,” Perry said, grinning. “I’m a junior.”
I rolled my eyes. He talked as if he were a decade older than us. “You’re just about ready for the retirement home, aren’t you?” I asked.
Me: (lol) Troy High sounds so great! And Readers: guess what?? I will be stalking Shana this weekend when she signs copies at The Book Depot in Kinston. She will be there on Saturday (August 8th) from 1-3, so if you’re in the area be sure to stop by!
You can visit Shana on the web here: http://www.shananorris.com
And here: http://shanawrites.livejournal.com
And you can buy Troy High on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Troy-High-Shana-Norris/dp/0810946475/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246906000&sr=8-1
Or . . . you can wait and come out with me to see Shana on Saturday!
Thanks for stopping by, Shana!